One of the reasons people use ad-blockers is because ads are annoying. Ads clutter up websites, autoplay, and track where you go online. They stick unwanted cookies on your computer. These are some of the many reasons why people avoid ads.
Apple has created a new technology to allow attribution of ad clicks on the web while preserving user privacy.
We propose a modern way of doing ad click attribution that doesn’t allow for cross-site tracking of users but does provide a means of measuring the effectiveness of online ads. It is built into the browser itself and runs on-device which means that the browser vendor does not get to see what ads are clicked on or when purchases are made.
Apple points out that today’s practice of ad click attribution “has no practical limit on the bits of data, which allows for full cross-site tracking of users using cookies.” Apple notes that this is privacy invasive, “and thus we are obliged to prevent such ad click attribution from happening in Safari and Webkit.”
Apple used the following principles when designing the Privacy Preserving Ad Click Attribution technology:
- Users should not be uniquely identified across websites for the purposes of ad click attribution.
- Only websites that users visit should be involved in measuring ad clicks and conversions.
- The browser should act on behalf of the user and do its best to preserve privacy while reporting on ad click attribution.
- The browser vendor should not learn about the user’s ad clicks or conversions.
I like that Apple is doing something to protect user’s privacy. Those who use Safari can rely on their browser to reduce the amount of data that websites suck up via ads or ad clicks. This technology will stop cross-site tracking from happening.
The Privacy Preserving Ad Click Attribution has three steps:
- Store ad clicks. This is done by the page hosting the ad at the time of an ad click.
- Match conversions against stored ad clicks. This is done on the website the ad navigated to as a result of the click. Conversions do not have to happen right after a click and do not have to happen on the specific landing page, just the same website.
- Send out ad click attribution data. This is done by the browser after a conversion matches an ad click.
People who use Safari can try out the Privacy Preserving Ad Click Attribution as an experimental feature in Safari Technology Preview 82+.