Decoding Safari’s Latest Update: Implications for Click IDs and Their Role in Marketing Analytics – Is the End Nearing?

By Matt Hertig, CEO and Co-Founder, ChannelMix

Explore the potential impact of Safari’s Link Tracking Protection on digital marketing, uncovering the challenges it poses to campaign optimization and strategy development.


The latest in privacy and security innovations to hit marketers comes with Safari’s introduction of Link Tracking Protection in iOS 17 and macOS Sonoma. According to Apple, “Some websites add extra information to their URLs in order to track users across other websites. Now this information will be removed from the links users share in Messages and Mail, and the links will still work as expected. This information will also be removed from links in Safari Private Browsing.”

This significant update has the potential for far-reaching implications for marketers, especially in the realms of tracking and analyzing campaign effectiveness. It presents clear challenges in terms of tracking and analytics, but 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.

Understanding the shift in tracking dynamics.

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 or other unique identifiers 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.

Interestingly, while Safari has targeted certain identifiers, Urchin Tracking Module (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.

Looking at the past, this isn’t Apple’s first attempt to end “surveillance marketing,” during the iOS15 announcement, most marketers began expecting a series of the end of third-party data tracking followed by client offerings that pivot towards more heavy reliance on first-party data and other measurement strategies such as Click-Through Rates (CTR).

The Impact on Marketers.

The future of UTM parameters is in the air. 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.

This shift could lead to less effective campaign optimization and strategy development, as marketers might miss out on critical user interaction insights. 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.

Marketers, who once relied on click IDs to trace user interactions across various touchpoints, now face more blind spots in their attribution models. Removing key tracking parameters creates a significant barrier to understanding user journeys, challenging the ability to attribute conversions and understand campaign performance effectively.

Personalized advertising heavily relies on tracking user behavior across websites. However, these changes greatly diminish the ability to personalize ads based on user interactions. As a result, there could be decreased engagement, lower conversion rates, and, ultimately, a drop in campaign ROI.

The Solution.

Ultimately, marketers need to embrace change and innovation. This challenge is also an opportunity for more creative tracking and attribution approaches industry-wide. 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.

This news underscores the need for alternative tracking methods and solutions. Marketers must look for solutions that comply with privacy standards without compromising on the depth of insights. They must also be open to exploring new technologies or methodologies for gathering and interpreting user data.

The importance of data governance and integrity is amplified and will continue to be a focus. Marketers need to ensure that the data they collect and analyze is accurate and actionable while complying with ever-changing privacy standards. We will begin to see more stringent data validation processes as we shift towards first-party data collection strategies.

Marketers need to utilize advanced analytics platforms and tools like ChannelMix’s Marketing Impact Modeling. Such platforms can help unearth patterns and relationships in data that might otherwise go unseen under the new tracking limitations. Without relying on any campaign tracking parameters, teams can begin measuring campaigns based on sophisticated modeling techniques and real-time integration of cookieless data from multiple sources.

In order for marketing leaders to be well-prepared to face future shifts like this in the digital marketing landscape, they need to explore the nuances of these changes, identify how it will impact their current and future marketing strategies, and learn to embrace all pathways forward while keeping data integrity in mind.