iPad in “3rd-party cookie”-attack: step back advertisers

Apples new touch-screen tablet-computer, the iPad, accept only “1st party cookies” by default. This is bad news for advertisers and analyst, who rely on “3rd party cookies” to work effectively.

To accept 3rd party cookies, you’ll actively have to go to the settings-section of the iPad and choose to “always” accept cookies.

The “cookies” section of the iPad. Only cookies “from visited” sites – that is: 1st party – are accepted by default.

To the advertising industry this is bad news, since the iPad thereby forces advertisers to show the same ads over and over again to the same iPad-users. 3rd party cookies would have allowed them to keep track across all the sites the advertising campaign in question is booked at. This is a pure waste of money from the advertisers point of view.

Futhermore the iPad move will make the targeting of advertisement to users with a known previous surfing pattern exceedingly difficult. Such as showing car-ads on a general news-site to users who in the past visited the website of eg. Volvo or BMW. More money down the drain.

Apple also deprives analysts and researchers from gaining the same level of detailed insight in the surfing-habits of iPad-users as they’ve had in traditional surfing environments. Finding out whether men or women, young or old, urban or rural users are the ones most prone to surf the web gets exceedingly difficult. Not to mention finding out which sites and clusters of sites different demographic groups tends to be most affiliated to. Developing “clever” e-commerce and media strategies hence becomes more difficult.

The “from visited sites only” approach isn’t new to Apple. In the iPhone and iPod touch-universes they did exactly the same. The difference is, that the iPad with its several times larger screen is a regular surfing device. Therefore the iPads lack of 3rd-party cookie support are deemed to have a much more significant effect – provided that is, that iPad sales takes off.

The advertisers and analysts had it coming, however. A growing anxiety over the privacy of users surfing the web have caused an international political movement to demand sites and advertisers to step back and let users alone while surfing the web. For that very reason the iPad “all sites” cookies denial won’t be the last one either. Advertisers and analyst are therefore best served with a lowering of their targeting ambitions, looking elsewhere to harvest the fruits of digital media.

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