Advertising: iOS should track clicks in a privacy-friendly way


Anyone who does marketing on the Internet also wants to know whether it works. Click tracking, which can be used to check whether an advertisement actually leads to the desired purchase, download or other desired effect, is correspondingly important to advertisers. However, this form of user monitoring is not particularly data protection-friendly. Apple is now planning to introduce a procedure this year to change this – the so-called Private Click Measurement (PCM).

A corresponding project is running as part of the WebKit project and is to become part of Apple’s browser engine. This would integrate it into Safari on iPhone, iPad and presumably Mac as well. An introduction to iOS and iPadOS apps is also planned. “Ad networks can use it to check the effectiveness of advertising clicks within iOS or iPadOS apps that are used to navigate to a website,” explains Apple. This makes it possible to check whether advertising really leads to a so-called conversion – i.e. a purchase or the conclusion of a subscription – while at the same time the privacy of the user is preserved.

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In one Blogposting Apple developer John Wilander, who is working on Intelligent Tracking Prevention in Safari, explains the idea. PCM is therefore part of iOS and iPadOS 14.5, which also comes with Apple’s new app Tracking Transparency. One wants to “further support the measurement of online advertising,” said the Apple man. PCM should make this possible, among other things, by working without cookies. In addition, reports were randomly delayed between 24 and 48 hours in order to separate events from one another. In addition, the tracking mechanisms are largely “on-device”, i.e. they do not leave your own device.

Apple wants PCM to become a standard and hopes that Firefox, Chrome, Edge or Brave will also implement their own. Safari is said to be the first browser with the technology. PCM will be active by default, it is said – whether advertisers and advertising networks also use it remains to be seen, however. In the future, Apple is also planning new functions such as fraud prevention with unlinkable tokens, a JavaScript API that works without tracking pixels, and so-called attribution reports for advertisers. PCM should also not be able to be misused as a tracking function. A click measurement from the web to an app is conceivable in the future, says Wilander.


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