The Fiksu Blog

Potential change in Apple policies on HTML5 cookies highlights the need to support multiple tracking technologies

Interesting news being reported by TechCrunch today: according to an article by Sarah Perez, Apple is now rejecting apps that are using HTML5 cookie tracking from the App Store. While this may come as a surprise to some, the good news is that over time, the marketplace has developed multiple solutions to mobile ad tracking on iOS.

The confusing ecosystem for marketing attribution in iOS has long been a challenge for app marketers. Back in August of 2011, when Apple first announced that they were deprecating UDIDs, there was considerable concern among marketers. How would they track their marketing results? In the short term, multiple options emerged and gained prominence, including MAC address, digital fingerprinting, HTML5 cookies, Facebook's newly introduced tracking method, and more. In addition, UDIDs remained the dominant tracking choice for many marketers, although the transition to Apple's preferred Advertising Identifier is now well underway.

There are many trade-offs among these options, including accuracy, privacy concerns, user experience, and acceptance by consumers, ad networks, developers, and Apple. At Fiksu, our long-term recommendation has been that the best approach is to support multiple types of marketing attribution – and that is in fact what our SDK provides. There are three essential reasons for this:

  • Future-proofing. Flexibility to use multiple types of tracking lets you adapt to changing market conditions, whether they come as new guidelines from Apple, changing consumer preferences, or new sources or advertising inventory, essentially future-proofing your app marketing strategy. In fact, the Fiksu SDK can simply and remotely disable most tracking methods that our clients choose to move away from.
  • Broadest reach. Different mobile traffic sources use different tracking technologies, and there's no way to know which sources will perform best for your app marketing needs until you try them. Accessing all the best sources requires supporting multiple tracking systems. And Fiksu's Platform provides the ability to track and report and all of our clients' campaigns, including those they run independently, such as email, QR codes, social, and more.
  • Optimal performance.  By supporting the maximum number of traffic sources, marketers are assured of always being able to work with the sources that drive he most effective cost per loyal user.

The picture isn't settled

It is important to note that there is no evidence – yet – that this is a unilateral action by Apple. Fiksu is aware of a couple of instances of very popular apps that have been rejected by Apple because of HTML5 cookie tracking. On the other hand, we're aware of at least 10 apps that use HTML5 tracking being approved by Apple in the last month, including a couple in the last few days, so it doesn't seem to be a comprehensive rejection – or if it is, it's very new.

So the situation remains unclear. While there have been some rejections, HTML 5 tracking remains a  viable and well-functioning form of marketing attribution for many app developers – one that closely mimics the long-established desktop standard for 1st  party cookies. The key for app marketers is to support HTML5 tracking along with all other forms of attribution in case there are additional changes in the ecosystem.

While there's been no official comment from Apple about this situation, there are a couple of reasons Apple might chose to eliminate HTML5 cookie tracking.

1.The user experience of the "flip" – a brief switch to Safari to load the cookie, then back to the app – might not fit with Apple's vision of the iOS experience.

2.Having introduced the Advertising Identifier last fall, Apple could be eager to speed its adoption.

For more on the relative strengths and weakness of the various tracking technologies, read our ebook How Mobile Ad Tracking Impacts App Marketing Results. Fiksu is also offering a webinar on March 7 titled, "App Marketer's Tracking Dilemma: How your ad tracking choices will impact ROI." Learn more or register


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