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Web Advertising: the news on cookies and the future of Facebook after iOS 14.5

Six years after the entry into force of the Cookie Law and after three years of GDPR, the Privacy Guarantor has published in the Official Gazette new guidelines for the regulation of cookies , those small files that, just like Tom Thumb’s crumbs, we leave behind when we browse online and that allow sites to remember us for the purpose of advertising tracking, but also to make our life easier, for example by making us find the products placed in the cart days before ready for a possible purchase.

Cookie Law: new guidelines

Privacy by design

The main novelty introduced by the Privacy Guarantor is that the sites will have to allow users to reject all cookies in one click . The consent request window, which we are so used to by now, must be designed with two buttons of equal value: I agree, I refuse.

“The methods of continuing navigation without giving any consent must, in other words, be as immediate, usable and accessible as those provided for the provision of consent”, the provision reads.

In short, the objective of the Privacy Guarantor is to counter the ambiguity of the banners that highlight the option of complete acceptance of cookies, discouraging the user from exploring further configurations.

Privacy by default

If it is necessary to guarantee users the possibility to deny consent to the installation of cookies in a single click, another novelty is that the denial must be the default setting . In practice, cookies are deactivated and the website must have the explicit consent of the user to be able to activate them.

It goes without saying that everyone can choose to change the tracking options at any time and the website must offer them the possibility to do so easily.

With the new guidelines, the Privacy Guarantor has also taken note of the tedious repetition of the banners that reappear at each access to the site and has made it clear that it is sufficient to re-propose the banner when:

  • one or more treatment conditions have been significantly changed
  • the site cannot determine with certainty if the user has already previously declared his intentions (which happens when we clean the browser by deleting cookies)
  • at least six months have passed since the previous presentation of the banner

All these innovations concern the so-called third-party cookies , those that, installed on a website, share the collected data with a third party. They are third-party cookies, for example those of Facebook, used to manage and optimize advertising campaigns.

Facebook and the iOS 14.5 issue

In April 2021, Apple updated the iPhone and iPad operating system to version 14.5 by introducing the App Tracking Transparency , a feature that allows the user to choose whether to allow or refuse tracking for advertising purposes by the apps, possibly indicating settings different for each.

According to initial studies conducted by third-party analytics agencies, only 25% of iPhone owners accept ad tracking . This for Facebook and for companies that use the platform to advertise themselves is a serious problem: if tracking is not allowed, Facebook lacks the raw material to feed the algorithms . Without data, it becomes difficult to profile the target audience, the chances of retargeting decrease and the advertising campaign suffers.

But the obstacles aren’t just from Apple: cookies and ad blockers are increasingly common, and Facebook still expects all major browsers to block or significantly limit third-party cookies over the next two years. Zuckerberg is therefore gearing up to rethink the advertising system to measure campaign success using less profiling data .

Facebook Conversion API

Facebook’s response to iOS 14.5 and ever-increasing tracking restrictions is a new Conversion API that will collect more accurate data technology.

The Conversion API will not replace the old Facebook pixel, but will work together with it by enhancing it and filling in the gaps. While the pixel tracks data through the user’s browser, the new Conversion API acts directly on the site’s server , without relying on any type of cookie. This means that the user’s browser settings and performance do not affect its tracking capabilities .

What Facebook Conversion API tracks

What data does Facebook Conversion API provide

The new server-based tracking system provides marketers and businesses with the data they need to:

  • targeting (custom audience and retargeting)
  • reporting
  • audience insights
  • dynamic ads
  • conversion optimization

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