Not Anymore! How Safari Updates Impact Ads

Blog, Boelter Lincoln, Safari, Apple

Last week at their developer conference, Apple announced two new updates to its forthcoming Safari browser release (macOS High Sierra) – auto-play video disablement and third party ad tracker blocking. With so many headlines about ad blocking and consumer privacy, B+L wanted to share what these updates really mean for advertisers.

Auto Play Video Disablement

Don’t you hate it when you take a quick internet break at your desk only to be jolted by an auto-play video? With the new Safari update, those auto-play videos will still be served, but the new browser will automatically pause them before they begin playing. This will allow users the opportunity to opt-in to watch them by pushing play.

From an advertising perspective, B+L recommends user-initiated pre-roll video placements anyway, so we think this is a win-win for consumers and advertisers alike. This seems to be a change everyone can get behind as Google recently announced that they will be taking a similar approach with their Chrome browser.

Third Party Ad Tracking Disablement

The other important update for advertisers coming out of the conference has to do with third party ad tracking. Cross site data, or what we typically refer to as retargeting cookies, will now be disabled in an effort to further protect user privacy.

Let’s say you are running a retargeting campaign for your brand. Once your ad is served to your target, a cookie is placed on their computer that allows the media vendor to identify them and track their activity for retargeting, as well as analytics. This new “intelligent tracking prevention” feature will disable third party tracking cookies after 24 hours. In other words, third party retargeting can still occur, but only within a 24-hour time frame of the ad being served.


Does this put an end to ad retargeting? Not at all. Prior to this announcement, Safari was already blocking third party cookies by default, so this actually only affects ad tech companies that were working around third party blocking to begin with. Additionally, it sounds like these changes will be occurring on the desktop version of Safari, but whether they will also apply to mobile is still TBD. Since Safari holds such a small share of the browser market (only 3.56%), the effect on retargeting initiatives will likely be minimal. Furthermore, it’s unlikely that Google (holding 66% of the browser market with Chrome) will roll out anything similar considering they are in the ad retargeting business.

Given the fact that third party tracking blocking by Safari was already happening and because they hold such a small share of the browser market, it’s business as usual at B+L – and it should be for your organization, too. As always, we’ll continue to monitor all types of changes across the media landscape and will help you distill what they mean for your advertising efforts.