The Impact of Safari 16.4 on Digital Marketing

Discover the potential impacts of Safari 16.4 on digital marketing and how it may affect your data collection & analysis.

Written by
Monique Lorette
June 13, 2023

In recent years, the battle for consumer data has been a never-ending game between browsers, user privacy, data collection, and digital marketing. And with the recent introduction of Safari 16.4, the game is changing once again. In this blog post, we will explore how the Safari 16.4 update is set to shake up the digital marketing world.

What is Safari 16.4?

Safari, the popular web browser powered by Webkit and developed by Apple, has recently (and quietly) unveiled its latest release with 135 new web features and over 280 updates. Marketing Technologist, Jonathan Mendez, was one of the first to bring light to the implication of cookies and data tracking in a recent tweet that has been viewed over 1.1 million times. He points out that "server set first party cookies now max 7 days" and that while "this aimed squarely at Google Tag Manager," it "affects every server-side proxy."

What does this mean?

Since the end of third-parties cookies, many marketing platforms like Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, and Facebook Ads have turned to loopholes such as CNAME cloaking or trying to disguise the origination of the cookie, essentially passing third-party cookies as first-party cookies. Safari 16.4 is set to change this.

The new browser will be more careful and check if the cookie is genuinely from the website owner or a third party. Unfortunately, if it's a third-party cookie, it will only last for a week before Safari deletes it, limiting these tools' ability to analyze this data.

Safari 16.4 may have other unintended consequences, such as impacting user logins. For example, if a website's cookie session times out, users may be prompted to log in again unless they visit the site within seven days.

How does Safari 16.4 impact digital marketing?

While many browser protections on cookies are put in place to protect users from malicious trackers, they can also impact those who measure for other purposes. For example, digital marketers use various tools and platforms, like Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager, to track, measure, and analyze data. In addition, advertising platforms like Facebook Ads utilize data to better serve ads based on user preferences.

Anton Lipkanou, president of Delve, an agency that supports analytics tools such as Google and Adobe Analytics, suggests that brands adapt to the new Safari 16.4 update by separating their reporting for different browsers. This will ensure they make correct decisions based on accurate data. Lipkanou also recommends relying on short-term metrics over first-touch, such as last-touch or data-driven attribution.

Brand Redding, the Founder & CEO of Elevar, recently discussed the implications of Safari 16.4 on marketing during a podcast. According to Redding, although some server-side GTMs might have trouble recognizing a user beyond seven days, the overall impact of this update is not significant because channels have adopted more robust user identification methods. For instance, Facebook's external ID offers numerous advantages to marketers, such as enhancing match rates on channels with limited access to specific identifiers and creating custom audiences.

At Delicious Digital Marketing, we understand the importance of accurate data for effective marketing strategies. That's why we offer various digital marketing services to help our clients navigate the changing digital landscape. Additionally, our comprehensive guide to Google Analytics 4 can help businesses stay ahead of the curve of another upcoming change and maximize their marketing efforts. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you optimize your digital marketing strategy!