May 9, 2023

Freshly Baked: How to Navigate Changes to Safari’s Cookie Policy

The digital advertising solarcoaster is a wild ride—trends constantly change and target audiences are increasingly elusive. In the residential solar industry, dependence on the effectiveness of digital advertising is unavoidable for fast-growing companies. 

But the rules are changing again. Recently, Apple made changes in Safari—the default browser on Apple devices—that change a cookie’s lifetime, altering a tool that many in the solar industry rely on for effective digital advertising. In this article, we’ll look at how this change is likely to impact marketing and advertising efforts of residential solar dealers, installers, and EPCs. 

Cookies have been a vital part of digital advertising since the advent of the internet. They are small data files that are stored on users' devices when they visit a website and are used to track user behavior and enable ad targeting. Cookies are categorized based on their duration and are either session- or persistent-based. Session cookies are deleted when a user closes their browser, while persistent cookies remain on the user's device for a specified period. Persistent cookies have allowed advertisers to retarget and track conversions in the target audiences. 

In 2017, Apple introduced the Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) feature in Safari. ITP was designed to enhance user privacy by limiting the use of cookies and other tracking technologies. In 2021, Apple released a new version of ITP that further reduces the cookie lifetime to seven days. 

Now in 2023, Apple has been secretly quashing workarounds to third-party cookies, most recently by disabling third-party cookies cloaked as first-party generated after seven days. This means third-party retargeting and conversion tracking are no longer possible one week after the last touch with a user. 

Safari's updated cookie policy will certainly impact digital advertising in the solar industry, as advertisers still rely primarily on cookies to track consumer behavior and provide targeted advertising to interested solar buyers.

Solar companies will need to invest heavily in first-party data collection and analysis. First-party data is data that is collected directly from the customer. By investing in internal data collection and analysis, solar companies can reduce reliance on third-party cookies for ad targeting and personalization, as well as better understand their customers' preferences and behavior. 

Additionally, solar advertisers may begin to focus more on contextual advertising. Contextual advertising involves targeting ads based on the content of the website or page being viewed. For solar companies, contextual advertising could target websites and pages that contain solar-related content related to renewable energy, sustainability, or climate change. 

Safari's cookie policy update has important implications for digital advertising in the solar industry. By limiting the lifetime of cookies to seven days, Safari poses a challenge for companies looking to maintain personalized and targeted ad campaigns. However, there are strategies that solar companies can adopt to navigate this challenge. These include investing in first-party data collection and analysis, focusing on contextual advertising, and optimizing ads for Apple's ITP policy.