As a publisher, it’s important to be aware that CPM rates can vary greatly depending on browser choice. Safari browser, in particular, can yield significantly lower CPMs than Chrome because of Apple’s stance on data privacy and advertising. We’re going to be unpacking some of the methods that publishers can implement to better monetize Safari traffic.
What is Apple’s Safari Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP)?
First released in 2017, Intelligent Tracking Prevention, or ITP, is Apple’s initiative to prevent advertisers from collecting data and user insights for online advertising purposes. ITP works in Apple’s Safari browser by blocking third-party cookies from tracking users and placing limits on how long first-party cookies can be stored.
How does Safari’s ITP impact publishers’ ad revenue?
Safari is the second most widely used browser worldwide after Google Chrome, and is used by almost 17% of internet users globally. Because Safari limits tracking and targeting on these users, these impressions are less valuable to advertisers resulting in lower CPMs for publishers. Last year, we conducted a study on browser CPM rates which found that Safari CPM rates can be as much as 37% lower than the average CPM.
Being able to track and target users across the web is not only advantageous to advertisers but also beneficial to users. This is because a personalised ad experience actually improves the user experience, and 71% of users actually prefer ads that are relevant to their interests.
For advertisers, Apple’s heavy-handed approach means that behavioural targeting and frequency capping is now very difficult for users that browse the web with Safari. This is because ITP only allows user data to be stored for up to 7 days.
How web publishers can monetize Safari traffic
Leverage your first-party data
For many years, demand-side platform targeting and third-party cookies have been the norm when it comes to ad personalisation. However, since ITP was introduced and now that Google has also announced plans to deprecate third-party cookies in Chrome, publishers’ first-party data is set to play a much more prominent role.
First-party data is information that publishers collect directly from their website audience. This can include context, searches and general on-site behaviour. First-party data can be collected through a number of mediums, such as analytics, CRMs and email newsletters.
This data will give you valuable insights and enable you to create profiles to personalize the user experience. Obtaining first-party data also gives publishers the tools to develop new products and services that users actually value and will pay for.
In recent years, many larger publishers, such as the New York Times, have opted for a paywall model which means that users pay for a membership and gain unlimited access to content. For most digital publishers, a paid subscription model is easier said than done as it requires significant first-party data to gain a thorough understanding of audience needs, habits and level of loyalty.
There are three main types of paywall:
- Soft paywall: Audience can access a limited amount of content within a certain time period before hitting a paywall.
- Hard paywall: Audience must pay for a subscription in order to consume the content. Usually, visitors can only access the homepage and the main hub pages. With so much ad-supported content available, paywall publishers need to ensure that their content successfully competes with content that is freely available.
- Freemium paywalls: Audience can access certain content for free whilst other content is premium and is hidden behind a paywall.
Paywalls can be extremely effective particularly if the strategy is led by first-party data which enables publishers to curate content which they know has been successful historically.
Focus on selling inventory via direct deals or PMPs
The introduction of ITP and the impending death of third-party cookies has resulted in advertiser spend being shifted back to direct deals and PMPs. This is because of the firm restrictions on the amount of user data made available to advertisers, which means that buyers are now going directly to the source for their data needs.
PMPs and direct deals are beneficial to advertisers and publishers as they offer complete control and transparency over what kind of inventory is being sold. Through direct deals, publishers are able to package and sell their inventory at a given price and are able to rely on consistent stream of revenue.
Are you facing issues with monetizing Safari traffic? For publishers that don’t have access to first-party data, OKO work with ad vendors who have technical solutions in place that aim to reduce the data gap between Safari users and what advertisers are looking for. Simply get in touch with one of our expert team today to find out more.
Looking ahead, the digital advertising ecosystem is rapidly heading towards a cookie-less future. More and more web browsers, such as Mozilla Firefox and Chrome are continuing to tighten up privacy controls for users, which means that now is the time to start looking into alternate solutions that are less reliant on third-party data.
Apple takes aim at the $100+ billion app install market
Update: September 2020
Since this article was published, Apple has announced plans to introduce new privacy features to iOS 14 that will place another monetization roadblock in front of app publishers. This update will have a monumental impact on any company that owns an app, advertises on apps or measures the effectiveness of advertising.
Similar to cookies, Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) is the unique number that is tied to a user’s Apple device and allows advertisers to track user interactions and behaviours. IDFA is exclusively available in mobile apps, not mobile webs.Previously, users had to manually opt-out of tracking via IDFA.
However, Apple announced at their annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) that in iOS 14, app publishers will need to obtain permission to track users before being able to access users’ IDFA. If users grant consent, IDFA can be used by ad tech vendors for tracking and targeting ads. If users deny consent, IDFA will be rendered as useless.
The opt-in rate is anticipated to be relatively low which is problematic considering iOS currently holds 25% of global operating system market share. Apple’s heavy-handed update will result in a reduced number of device-based ID’s in the app ecosystem and will have a much bigger and more immediate impact than the death of third-party cookies.
Although changes were initially planned for release in late September 2020, Apple has now announced that enforcement will be delayed until early 2021. App publishers have the remainder of 2020 to arrange alternative solutions for identification, ad personalisation and attribution.
Apple News+ to intercept publisher traffic in iOS 14
Apple just gave news publishers a very good reason to not participate in Apple News+. In the latest version of iOS, it has been spotted that the tech giant is intercepting the traffic of news publishers in Apple News+. The intercept involves Apple News+ subscribers being redirected to the Apple News+ app, rather than the publishers own website when clicking on web links. This update will impact publishers that participate in Apple News+ and Safari users with iOS 14. For publishers, the interception has the potential to reduce the number of ad impressions or subscription sales generated, thus reducing revenue. It also demonstrates that Apple themselves engage in cross-site and cross-app tracking, which strongly goes against their ‘pro-privacy’ stance.
Dolly joined the OKO team in early 2019 and certified to Google Certified Publishing Partner status. Dolly manages publisher communication and learning at OKO.