Visable 360
The B2B magazine for digital sales
Visable 360
The B2B magazine for digital sales
Basics3. August 2023

Marketers worried: Apple is removing tracking parameters from URLs

Apple is expanding its anti-tracking measures. Their Safari browser and a few select apps will automatically remove tracking parameters from previously visited websites. What this means for the privacy of users and which disadvantages arise as a result for marketers – find the answers here. 

The reason for tracking parameters in URLs

Entrepreneurs want to know which online marketing measures work and which don’t. For this reason, so-called tracking URLs can be created, with the help of tools, which record how a visitor arrived at the company’s website or on special landing pages. The normal URL – – is complemented by an additional parameter.

Thanks to tracking URLs, the path can be seen which the user took to get to the website. In this way, marketers can determine which ads were effective on which websites and resulted in visits and leads – and which ads weren’t effective. What’s more, marketers can then display personalised advertisements as a follow-up.

On top of this, tracking URLs allow marketers to see which keywords were used for the Internet search, before users clicked on an ad. This information is extremely helpful for search engine optimisation (SEO). And when it comes to analysis, the tracking parameters offer a valuable service: based on the data, commissions or the entire cost of the ad can be calculated.


The Safari browser from Apple is automatically removing tracking URLs

Such tracking URLs are criticised in part due to the fact that it infringes the privacy of users. After all, users are normally not informed of their search behaviour being tracked. Which is why Apply has already implemented protective measures for users in the past – for instance App Tracking Transparency (ATT) with which Apple users can choose themselves if third-party apps may track how they use their iPhone or iPad.

In future, Apple’s Safari browser will automatically recognise and remove tracking URLs from marketers – granted the user is surfing in Private Mode, also known as Incognito Mode with other browsers. In Normal Mode, the function, being introduced under the name of Advanced Tracking and Fingerprinting Recognition, must be activated manually by the user.

In addition, this protection measure against link tracking will also be integrated in the News app and the email program. The new privacy functions are to be introduced into the operating system versions iOS 17, iPadOS 17 and macOS 14 Sonoma, which are scheduled to be launched at around the end of 2023. Safari is the world’s third most used web browser (German), following Chrome and Edge. So, it can’t be ruled out that other popular browsers will follow suite.

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Alternatives for marketers

With the loss of third-party cookies, a further important factor for the measurability of campaign interactions has disappeared for online marketing. All the same, Apple is aware of the difficulties this poses for marketers, for being able to continue to measure the success of their campaigns.

The company therefore recommends that marketers use the so-called Private Click Measurement. According to Apple, “advertising networks can measure the effectiveness of ad clicks within iOS or iPadOS apps that navigate to a website. This information can be used to understand which ads drive conversions (such as purchases or signups) – while maintaining user privacy.” This should be achieved by avoiding the use of cookies, by postponed reports and by device-based tracking measures.

What the concrete impact Apple’s browser update will have on performance marketing cannot yet be predicted as of mid-2023. But companies will hardly get around adjusting their marketing systems – the change will take time and require financial means.

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