intelligent tracking prevention itp

How to deal with Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP)?

Correct data in web analytics and A/B testing tools is important for measuring and improving your online marketing and website performance. The tightened privacy legislation (GDPR, CCPA) does have impact on the tracking and measuring of visitors and their behavior, but browsers are also increasingly protecting the privacy of their users. With all the consequences for web analytics, A/B testing and retargeting.

ITP and ETP

For example, Firefox’s ETP (Enhanced Tracking Protection) blocks third-party tracking cookies from sites on Firefox’s blacklist. The Safari browser goes even further: with ITP (Intelligent Tracking Prevention) versions 2.1 and 2.2 since resp. both spring and summer 2019 and version 2.3 coming, both first-party (own data) and all third-party cookies are only briefly stored by Safari users. For most websites, Safari is browser #2 with a share of tens of percent. If you add Firefox’s share to this, it can amount to a quarter to half of all website visits and visitors. And don’t forget that other browsers such as Edge and Chrome will not stay behind.

Consequences of ITP

The most important consequences of the latest ITP versions are that:

  • A visitor who returns after more than 7 days is seen as a new visitor instead of a repeat visitor in Google Analytics and other web analytics tools;
  • A visitor who visits a page in a website from third party (ad) platforms such as Facebook/Instagram and Google Ads whose URL contains a query parameter or hash fragment (which is usually the case), becomes after 1 day seen as a new visitor with no visitor history;
    Retargeting via third party (ad) platforms based on website visit behavior is therefore limited to a maximum of 1 day;
  • A/B tests that last longer than 7 days are no longer statistically significant;
  • Cross platform and cross device conversion attribution becomes more difficult to measure, analyze and predict.

ITP will stay. Now what?

Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) does not stand alone. It fits in at a time when the privacy of consumers in general and website visitors in particular is increasingly secured. A time in which these consumers and website visitors are much more aware of their privacy, and will use every opportunity to proactively protect it.

This creates a new reality for marketers and analysts. A new reality that requires adaptation of existing tactics. Below you will find an overview of the most important changes.

Visitors => visits

Many marketers base decisions on visitor numbers and on the new vs. returning visitors they see in their Google Analytics dashboard. Because a visitor who returns after more than 7 days as a result of ITP is seen as a new rather than a returning visitor, that is no longer reliable. It is therefore better not to take more visitors but visits (sessions) as a starting point and to make decisions based on ratio KPIs such as click-through rate, bounce rate, exit rate, conversion rate, customer value and lifetime value.

Rethink remarketing

Thanks to GDPR/CCPA, ETP and ITP, remarketing based on reach and visitor behavior is increasingly under pressure. But is that bad? I do not think so. A good campaign strategy and tactics is based on different wishes and needs in different phases of the customer journey, and responds to that. Consider, for example, searches by (potential) customers that are different in the orientation phase from searches in the decision phase, which you respond to with SEA and SEO by showing the right ads and content in search results with the right searches.

Shorten A/B test duration

A/B tests that last longer than 7 days are no longer statistically significant, unless visits from browsers with ITP (Safari) are excluded. If you do not want to do the latter, you will have to shorten the duration of your A/B tests to a maximum of 7 days by using larger segments, testing larger changes, measuring micro-conversions, page grouping, or lowering the statistical significance of your A/B test.

Connect data sources

Realize that web analytics data is only a limited part of all available data on which you can base decisions. CRM, e-commerce and offline data broaden the insight into the value of your visitors. Therefore, connect your web analytics data and your other data sources together in a tool such as Power BI to gain a better insight into the performance and contribution of your website and campaigns as well as your customers and visitors. Check for more information this tutorial about the use of Google Analytics and other data sources in Power BI, or download the free e-book Power Analytics here.

Here to help

If you need help with tracking and measuring in general or ITP in particular, contact me.

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