Is This the Beginning of the End for Click IDs? Breaking Down Safari’s Latest Update and Its Impact on Marketing Analytics

The latest change to hit marketers comes with Safari’s introduction of Link Tracking Protection in iOS 17 and macOS Sonoma. This significant update has the potential for far-reaching implications for marketers, especially in the realms of tracking and analyzing campaign effectiveness. Let’s explore the nuances of these changes, their impact on marketing strategies, and the pathways forward.

The Shift in Tracking Dynamics:

  • Understanding Safari’s Changes: Safari’s Link Tracking Protection marks a significant move towards enhanced user privacy. By automatically removing tracking parameters such as Google and Facebook click IDs from URLs, the feature aims to curb cross-site tracking and protect user data. This change is automatic in Private Browsing mode and can be manually extended to all browsing sessions.
  • UTM Parameters Unaffected: Interestingly, while Safari has targeted certain identifiers, UTM parameters, a staple in marketing analytics, remain unaffected for now. This selective approach to tracking parameters presents a unique challenge for marketers relying on comprehensive data sets.

The Impact on Marketers:

  • Attribution Hurdles: The removal of key tracking parameters creates a significant barrier in understanding user journeys. Marketers, who once relied on click IDs to trace user interactions across various touchpoints, now face more blind spots in their attribution models. This change challenges the ability to effectively attribute conversions and understand campaign performance.
  • Personalized Advertising Challenges: Personalized advertising relies heavily on the ability to track user behavior across websites. With these changes, the ability to personalize ads based on user interactions is greatly diminished. This could lead to decreased engagement, lower conversion rates, and ultimately, a drop in campaign ROI.
  • Data Accuracy Concerns: The foundation of effective digital marketing is the ability to make data-driven decisions. With the introduction of Safari’s Link Tracking Protection, the accuracy and comprehensiveness of data collected are at risk. This shift could lead to less effective campaign optimization and strategy development, as marketers might miss out on critical user interaction insights.
  • UTM Parameter’s Future: While the change currently only impacts advertising click IDs and only in Safari private browsing, we can only assume this is just a first step to a larger phase-out of all tracking parameters, all in the name of privacy.

Embracing Change and Innovation:

  • Seeking Alternative Tracking Solutions: The introduction of Safari’s new feature underscores the need for alternative tracking methods. Marketers must look for solutions that comply with privacy standards without compromising on the depth of insights. This might involve exploring new technologies or methodologies for gathering and interpreting user data.
  • Utilizing Advanced Analytics Platforms: Tools like ChannelMix’s Marketing Impact Modeling come into play here, offering a way to integrate cookieless data from multiple sources and apply sophisticated modeling techniques, all in real-time and without relying on any campaign tracking parameters. Such platforms can help unearth patterns and relationships in data that might otherwise be missed under the new tracking limitations.
  • Innovative Tracking and Attribution Approaches: The challenge presented by Safari’s update is also an opportunity for innovation. Marketers can explore novel attribution models that rely less on individual tracking parameters and more on aggregate data and machine learning algorithms to predict user behavior and campaign effectiveness.

The Importance of Data Governance:

  • Focus on Data Integrity: In this new environment, the importance of data governance and integrity is amplified. Marketers need to ensure that the data they collect and analyze is not only compliant with privacy standards but also accurate and actionable. This might involve more stringent data validation processes and a shift towards first-party data collection strategies.


The introduction of Safari’s Link Tracking Protection is a significant moment in digital marketing, heralding a shift towards greater privacy. While it presents clear challenges in terms of tracking and analytics, it also offers an opportunity for marketers to innovate and adapt. By embracing advanced analytics platforms, exploring new tracking methodologies, and focusing on data governance, marketers can navigate this change successfully. In doing so, they will be well-prepared to face future shifts in the digital marketing landscape.