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Industry Contributor 16 Jul 2020 - 2 min read

Keeping your brand out of the tech giant’s crosshairs

By Ben Willee, General Manager - Spinach Advertising

Keeping your brand out of the tech giant’s crosshairs

Australia’s second most popular web browser could soon make moves to block Google Analytics compromising the industry benchmark for measuring web performance which puts us all in a bit of a pickle.

Key points:

  • At Apple’s digital-only Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) in June, the tech giant revealed all manner of updates to its software and products
  • Tech fans were enticed by updated operating systems and the ability to watch their AppleTV while listening on two sets of AirPods but changes to privacy settings across platforms and devices is of more concern to marketers
  • As Search Engine Journal reports, the new version of macOS, “Big Sur”, has a security upgrade with the native Apple browser, Safari, blocking and listing a host of trackers on various websites
  • According to Search Engine Journal, among the examples of trackers being blocked is Google Analytics which has the potential to impact businesses of all shapes and sizes that rely on the reporting platform

The digital landscape really is an ever-evolving beast, one which we have a decreasing level of control over. There’s been plenty of talk about the death of the third party cookie, led by Google and its efforts to sure up privacy in its Chrome browser. Here in Australia, Chrome is the leading browser on desktops with 64.5% of Aussies using it. Apple’s Safari, meanwhile, commands 16% market share.

So it caught our attention when Apple slipped in an update to Safari at its recent Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) that could have wide-reaching implications for the industry.

According to updates announced at the WWDC, the browser looks set to block a tool many of us rely on regularly to run our businesses: Google Analytics. Search Engine Journal reports, “Apple is touting Safari’s privacy features as a major selling point of the new browser.”

If this goes ahead, the industry benchmark for measuring performance would be compromised overnight.

While Google Analytics is not alone – the updated Safari looks to be blocking other trackers on desktop including DoubleClick, Amazon, and Optimizely – if Apple is to go ahead and block Google Analytics, the result will be a significant loss of visibility on who is visiting websites and what they are engaging with. This will have a flow-on effect to path-to-purchase disrupting optimisation. I mean, imagine not being able to watch your customers’ in-store behaviour and only seeing them when they arrive at the checkout?

In today’s increasingly digital world, the last thing we want is less understanding of what is working with our digital investment, particularly on our own websites. 

As the tech giants continue to go head to head, it seems anything is fair game. There’s no end to the shifting of the goalposts making it necessary for marketers and agencies to have contingency plans in place to avoid being caught in the crosshairs of the battling giants.

So how can you prepare for these unknown changes? In the case of the demise of third-party cookies, some pundits reckon there will be a solution well before 2022 rolls around but since Big Sur is due out in November, it’s worth investigating your options if you’re a Google Analytics user.

Consider adding a Customer Data Platform (CDP) to your tech stack. This will help join first-party data to create audiences and it’s not reliant on web activity alone.

Consider this as another opportunity to hone your focus on first-party data. This shift will keep you in the driver’s seat and not the tech giants.

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Ben Willee, General Manager

Spinach Advertising

Ben Willee is the ‎General Manager and Media Director at Spinach Advertising. Before joining Spinach in 2012, he worked in the Australian and European markets for agencies including Initiative and Ikon.

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