Both Safari and Firefox, the two browsers leading the way for further privacy features and web tracking prevention methods, have had recent updates that seek to further hinder efforts by advertisers and publishers to track users browsing habits.

Safari, which has been most notably active with the rollout of its Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP 2.2) which heavily impacted 3rd party tracking and 1st party tracking, now has publishers in it’s sights. To work-around this clamp down on publishers and 3rd parties collecting audiences using cookies publishers have been activating metered “paywalls”. This means users have to create a login “tethering” them to the publisher, effectively giving the publisher consent to then create audience profiles for it’s now “logged in” userbase.

Picking up on this trend, Apple has already released an update to mitigate this effect. The latest versions of Safari will now prevent sites from detecting users that have the browser’s private browsing mode enabled.

This mode prevents publishers reading/writing cookies meaning that publishers will no longer have a way to count and detect how much content a user has consumed, rendering the metered paywall completely useless and denying publishers from both protecting their content and adding another user to it’s audience pool.

Firefox, who have been on a year long effort to block tracking in their browser, have taken the plunge to block 3rd party tracking cookies by default for all users (previous updates only enabled this by default for new users since June 2019).

Much like Apple’s ITP, Firefox’s Enhanced Tracking Protection (ETP) seeks to block all cookies and will take it’s current userbase doing this from 20% to 100% as users update their browsers. The rationale? Both Apple and Firefox want to put users back in control of their online experience by giving them the tools for protection the moment they start using the browser.

The impact of these measures is that both 3rd and 1st parties are finding it harder to measure and target audiences given the reduced userbase. Now, a combined global market share of 20% of internet users can no longer be tracked, with potentially more on the way with upcoming Chrome updates to their privacy measures as well.

As this ongoing ‘cat and mouse’ battle continues it does seem that it is getting harder and harder for advertisers to reach “the right users at the right time”. Advertisers and ad tech vendors are working to find ways to preserve the measurement and targeting capabilities they’ve become so accustomed to.