US ad trade bodies warn Apple’s new Safari browser threatens the internet’s economic model

Six major US advertising trade associations last week released an open letter outlining deep concerns about how Apple’s new Safari 11 browser treats cookies and warning the company’s moves may “sabotage the economic model for the Internet.”

The US concerns are reflected locally with the CEO of IAB Australia, Vijay Solanki, telling Mumbrella that Apple’s lack of transparency may make it hard for online advertisers to manage the restrictions.

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“It is naturally a concern for the entire ad ecosystem, publishers, agencies and brands, and we are in the process of talking to local stakeholders and aligning their feedback on the issue,” Solanki said.

“What is most problematic is the seemingly opaque criteria for the restrictions. This makes it hard for advertisers and publishers to consistently manage.”

The open letter from the US bodies including the American Advertising Federation, Association of National Advertisers, Data & Marketing Association, Interactive Advertising Bureau, and Network Advertising Alliance highlighted the ‘haphazard set of rules’ which Safari 11’s ‘intelligent tracking protection’ will create.

“The infrastructure of the modern internet depends on consistent and generally applicable standards for cookies so digital companies can innovate to build content, services, and advertising that are personalized for users and remember their visits,” the letter stated.

“Apple’s Safari move breaks those standards and replaces them with an amorphous set of shifting rules that will hurt the user experience and sabotage the economic model for the internet.”

“Apple’s unilateral and heavy-handed approach is bad for consumer choice and bad for the ad-supported online content and services consumers love,” the letter continued. “Blocking cookies in this manner will drive a wedge between brands and their customers, and it will make advertising more generic and less timely and useful. Put simply, machine-driven cookie choices do not represent user choice, they represent browser-manufacturer choice.”

On a positive note, Solanki concluded his comments to Mumbrella with the observation Apple’s move may turn out to be a good thing for the industry:

“As technology continues to mature, we expect more tech providers to look at ways to improve the customer experience by offering more consumer control. The industry will need to develop a more symbiotic consumer and advertiser experience.”


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