As the cookie crumbles - what iOS 14.5's updates mean for your marketing plans.
7 min read
Apple's changing everything about how mobile apps track users. Here's what's going on, why, and – most important – what the change means to your marketing plans.
The death of third-party cookies and mobile tracking has been a discussion item among marketers for a long time. However, the impending doom became more real in March 2021, when Google and Apple made announcements regarding their privacy plans. If your marketing programs track users, the changes will have an immediate effect.

Google made two announcements. In January 2020, Google announced that by the end of 2022 Chrome would no longer support third-party cookies. And in March 2021 the company announced its intention to end behavioral targeting; it will not develop or allow alternative identifiers that replace cookies on its ad products by third parties. While Google helped create and grow the digital ecosystem that relied on tracking and targeting ads across the web, due to pressure from regulators around data privacy and antitrust, the company is cutting off one of the most efficient targeting methods.

In April 2021, Apple announced that with iOS14.5 it will implement App Tracking Transparency. Cross-app tracking allows advertisers to target ads based on behaviors on other apps – and obviously that matters a lot to marketers who use them for audience creation and conversion tracking. The privacy-centric feature now requires a deliberate opt-in from users to permit software to track them across apps; that is, developers must explicitly ask for permission to track users for ad targeting.

What perpetuated these changes?

Though the third-party cookie was not initially developed with malicious intent (at least in regard to consumer privacy), it evolved to encompass the role of tracking online user behavior for advertising use. The technology of third-party cookies has become more complex since 1994, and consumer privacy concerns have grown significantly (for good reason) since the idealistic days of the early internet. Consumers are increasingly anxious about the way they are tracked online.

Over the past few years, governments have established laws to promote…
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