Crackdown on Cookie Tracking. Is this really the end of Third-party cookies?


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Google recently announced a new version of chrome which would raise the bar on transparency. They would block third party cookies in cross site requests unless they are secured and flagged using an Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) standard called Same Site. 

Adding to this, Apple on March 24, 2020 released a major update to its Safari Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP), entirely blocking third party cookies. The isolation feature that allows the company’s web browser to block cookies and avert advertisers from intruding on your web habits. Safari now bars all third-party cookies. Hence, no advertiser or website is able to pursue you over the internet using the universal tracking technology.

Analysing the Initial Impact

Advertiser’s collect data using cookies on users who browse online and make a purchase. This information is then used for further adaptation of ad targeting and audiences. Cookie tracking is often enabled at the end of a user purchase journey. After the recent ITP changes, if a user completes a purchase on Safari, for instance, the first party cookie data will be available for only 24 hours which leaves advertisers bare minimum time to gather any vital information. 

ITP has set a cap of 7 days for those clients who curb third party scripts by the use of first party cookies for the purposes of cross site tracking, Safari will delete all the website scripts after 7 days of use without user interaction on the site.

However, Google claims reducing the burden for the advertisers that this update will have a minimal impact on first party cookies, only affecting the tracking of third party cookies. Looking at the market share between the browsers, will this have a heavy impact?

According to sources, Chrome is leading globally when it comes to desktop sessions and impressions, standing at 66%. Apple’s safari just accounts to 4% on desktop sessions and 26% on mobile sessions. Looking at this stat one could say the effects of ITP would not impact much. Chrome accounts to more than 2/3rds of the market share, with the new updates in chrome which are still unclear as they plan to introduce in 2021 – 2022 we will have to wait and see the effect on advertisers and publishers.

How are Advertisers & Publishers/Affiliates preparing?

The most affected with this update is the affiliate network, they are upgrading themselves to be fully compliant. As far as such some networks are preparing their own script to reduce the impact of these external browser policy changes.

Advertisers & Affiliates are working towards upgrading the tracking solution. They are rolling out their own first party and server to server multi layered approach to tracking.

Credibility of Affiliate Network

All the networks are continuously working towards total compliance and maintaining full transparency, but this is just a start to the new ecosystem. Networks which are not complying are getting suspended and given closure notices. It has become a compulsion to shift to the right tracking code.

Advertisers & Affiliate networks are reinforced with last click attribution which questions their credibility. This update also affects industries which have high lead time periods and in case with Safari less than 24 hours. This is how these channels are not rewarded rightly.


It is always about the customers as they have become more aware about their data and therefore want more control and transparency. So, the question stays, what is the impact for all the Advertisers, Publishers & Affiliates? This only demands us to be more proactive. As all our marketing plans have become more consumer focused, delivering personalised experience as well as protecting their privacy and data at the same time is inevitable. These appropriate steps have been taken to make sure all the stakeholders are happy with this move.

We see these changes are being welcomed by many networks as they are with good intentions. It is time where the ecosystem is built on ‘true’ first party cookies. Steps need to be taken to advance in the way we integrate with our ad partners. We should not totally rely on companies who sell data based on third party tracking.

Mark Walters, CEO of Awin says, These changes will not “risk collateral damage to our industry”. He says, “Affiliate marketing is a data-light”suitable to “all shapes and sizes”. It is “paramount” that advertisers & publishers are isolated from these updates.

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