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Apple has now rolled out its ITP 2.0 and soon many others will follow. Unfortunately, this is bad news for affiliate marketers as many will likely see a major drop in their commissions.
If you are anything like me, I have just started cracking the code of affiliate marketing, seeing my first official payout just last month! So, you can imagine my disappointment when I started seeing articles about Apple’s ITP 2.0 being bad for business.
But, before you start freaking out about this, let’s get to the terminology and facts. Then, I’ll explore some theories and preventive steps that many consultants have already mentioned and encouraged.
What is Apple’s ITP 2.0?
Sounds like an octopus with 3 heads, but all ITP stands for is Intelligent Tracking Prevention. Its latest version (hence 2.0) is being now rolled out by Apple as a measure to tighten its privacy policies.
It is also thought that Firefox and other browsers will follow suit in the upcoming weeks, maybe months.
Now, that’s what ITP stands for, but what are they really changing here?
What Are the ITP 2.0 Updates?
As with most privacy policies and updates, consumer privacy is at foremost focus – which is a good thing – but it can negatively affect those of us on the other side of the coin – the marketers, the eCommerce stores, etc.
Now, I’ve read a few different articles about this (although a bit late to the game I have to admit) and I gotta say, the details get a little confusing. I’ll try to keep it simple and give you plenty of references to fact check!
So, according to most sources I’ve read (Commission Factory, Smarter Chaos) here are the main changes coming with Apple’s ITP 2.0:
- No more 24-hour window tracking cookie – The ITP 1.0 allowed a 24-hour cookie, but this new update is now removing it altogether. According to Smarter Chaos, this means that third-party cookies needed for affiliate tracking will be either discouraged or blocked by Apple devices;
- Protection against tracker collusion – it means that redirects will be discouraged or blocked by Apple browsers.
- Origin-only referrer – this truncates anything after the root domain and you’ll only see the main domain URL. This seems to not have much impact on affiliate tracking.
How Will Apple’s ITP 2.0 Affect Cookies?
Well, unfortunately for most of us affiliate marketers, any privacy regulation that prevents intelligent tracking will absolutely affect cookies.
You might already know this, but let’s make it all plain and clear.
Cookies are the little bits of software left in each person’s browsers when they visit a website and it then follows their behaviour for a specified time.
Cookies are super important for Affiliate Marketers because that’s what allows companies to track our affiliate links attached to a person’s browsing behaviour.
Basically, if someone comes to my website and clicks on a Tailwind link, for instance, there’s a cookie with my affiliate ID that will track them for about 30 days or so. If that person purchases a Tailwind Plan within that period of time, then I will be awarded a commission.
How Will Apple’s ITP 2.0 Affect Affiliate Commissions?
The kind of tracking I mentioned above is considered “Intelligent Tracking”, thus anything that prevents that from happening will have an impact on commissions!
This means that a person may come to my blog, click on one of my affiliate links and purchase something through it. Yet, I may never get a commission for that purchase!
Yep! Even though I did all the work to attract an audience, drive traffic and sales to merchants, I will likely not get a single cent in return!
Is Affiliate Marketing Doomed?
Let’s not panic!!
At the moment, this only applies to Apple’s devices! Meaning that it only applies to people visiting your website through Safari and Safari App (although I’ve heard it also includes Google Chrome if they’re using it on any Apple product).
Apparently, though, Firefox and other browsers are said to follow Apple’s ITP 2.0 soon!
But there is also some good news, even for those of us whose traffic comes mostly from Apple users!
Both affiliate marketers, affiliate networks and merchants can take pro-active action and use best practices to comply with Apple’s new user privacy updates and still track affiliate links and commissions without problems!
See below for the steps to take.
What to do as an Affiliate Marketer?
As an affiliate, you can contact all the merchants you promote to let them know about the changes and ask them how they are acting regarding the ITP 2.0 updates.
It can be as simple as a quick e-mail saying something like:
“Hi, in light of the Apple ITP 2.0 updates, I’m wondering how it will affect my affiliate tracking with your company?”
You can also send them some links to factual articles about the Apple ITP 2.0 as a reference.
I’ve already contacted Share A Sale and they were very quick to reply and answer my questions. They have also taken action in identifying which merchants in their network are ITP compliant.
What Can Advertisers/Merchants do?
Once aware of the ITP changes, companies with affiliate programs can switch to cookieless tracking (Smarter Chaos), which doesn’t require cookies to continue tracking affiliate links.
So, the major takeaway here is that the internet is changing with the times and taking user privacy more seriously than before.
The Apple ITP 2.0 can have a huge impact on affiliate marketing, but only if pro-active measures and best practices are not in place!
Remember: Contact your affiliate manager at each company you promote and ask how they are complying with the new Apple ITP 2.0! Once they switch to cookieless tracking, you’re good to go!