The world has entered a new digital era. In June 2018, Apple announced their latest revision of the Safari browser and details of the Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) 2.0 release. In essence, ITP2 prevents third-party tracking, potentially causing major disruptions to online services and advertising. Previous iterations of ITP gave a 24-hour window for these cookies, and this has now been removed. Eliminating this window blocks third-party cookies on Safari, which in turn potentially nullifies many affiliate links, ad-tech tools and tracking.

Safari has also changed how ‘first-party bounce trackers’ collect data in first-party storage and cookies, with ITP2 purging the tracking data from these bounce trackers. What’s more, Safari has introduced tracker collusion that would see all the redirects in a chain being classified as trackers, when just one domain within that chain is identified as a tracker.

Naturally these changes have generated uncertainty and concern within the performance marketing industry, as the sum total of these changes could have significant impact on the affiliate industry and traditional third-party cookie tracking – resulting in not only a significant loss in tracked sales from users on the new versions of Safari, but also a loss of the supporting data and insights associated with a click or a sale.

Fortunately for Awin clients and partners, the onset of ITP2 still means business as usual. When correctly implemented, our first-party tracking solution Mastertag will continue to track sales without interruption. It’s a powerful piece of JavaScript that sits across all landing pages and handles all affiliate tracking. It remains the foundation of all new tracking enhancements and, over the years, high-performing publishers have been integrated in to Mastertag, making it hassle free for any advertiser to start working with these partners.

However, we can only guess what the future holds. We are in a vortex of data privacy uncertainty, with the first, mainstream responses to try and calm the waters slowly coming to light.

In the short term, Awin expects very little change. ITP2 is released, but its adoption will initially be slow until updates become pushed and promoted to Apple users. As more iPhone models are released, ITP2 prevalence will surely grow. iOS12 seems to improve iPhone performance. Previously, users may have avoided upgrading their mobile operating systems for fear of turning it in to a brick. However, the first reports on performance are very favorable for the latest version of the iPhone operating system – and therefore, the chances of ITP2 coming in to play and having a significant impact increases.

Firefox is planning similar changes to their browser’s cookie tracking. However, by the time they are deployed, Awin clients and partners may feel very little effect as Mastertag will continue to track sales across all major browsers. For other businesses, these changes could be the final nail in the coffin. If technology providers and networks have not reacted and adapted by this time, it may be too late and customers will gravitate towards solutions that provide a full-tracking solution without any browser-specific holes.

Awin has a track record of being in the foreground, at the cutting edge of the affiliate industry. We changed the landscape with the first iteration of our award-winning user interface. We were first to market with our deterministic cross-device tracking, now a part of our standard tracking service. We introduced reward on influence and cross-channel influence in response to our advertisers desires to work with the upper-funnel publishers. We listened to our customers and created coupon attribution, the simplest way to work with highly-prized influencers. We provided ongoing guidance to our advertisers and publishers to ensure they were well-informed of and prepared for the onset of Europe’s Global Data Protection Regular (GDPR), which came in to effect May 2018.

And most recently, we have worked tirelessly to ensure all of the advertiser and publishers across the Awin network are ready for ITP2, providing our partners with full visibility into the status of an advertiser’s tracking integration via our UI.

We will continue to monitor and anticipate changes to the affiliate industry and wider digital marketing landscape. With e-commerce taking up a huge chunk of our online habits and the sheer size of advertising spend, the industry will always find a way for legitimate business to continue. At the very core of affiliate marketing, there is technology and innovation. We are confident that no matter what surprises the future hold, the industry – and Awin – will respond.

We can only guess what will come next. What we know for sure is whatever happens, Awin will always be in your corner. We would be honored to receive your continued support by nominating and voting for the Awin Group as ‘Best CPS Network.’ As you get three network selections with your vote, we would be extremely grateful to receive two of those – one for Awin, one for ShareASale.

To vote for the Awin Group, please click here.

 About Awin

As leading full-service performance marketing networks operating in the retail, telecommunications, travel and finance verticals, Awin helps brands reach millions of consumers every day by building strategy, recruiting, and managing a range of partners specific to their brand – from content bloggers to top-grossing publishers like Ebates and RetailMeNot.

We’re committed to creating the most-diverse, connected and effective affiliate network in the world. In 2017, we partnered with over 13,000 advertisers to generate over 143m sales and $16.3 billion in revenue. We are connected with over 100,000 publishers, who have earned $734m in commissions last year.

Awin provides unparalleled service and technology to address industry challenges like coupon attribution, cross-device tracking, advanced commissioning, as well as grants access to the largest publisher network available in the US.

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