Skip to content

How to check if you are affected by the cookie problem

From a technical viewpoint, the effect of Safari ITP is mainly that it limits the lifetime of 1st party cookies (and ignores 3rd party cookies altogether).

This might seem like a small detail, but it has a significant impact on e-commerce companies.

I would argue that successful e-commerce is mainly driven by customer acquisition and retention through digital marketing. Those are fancy words for the practice of driving quality traffic to your site. “Quality traffic” in e-commerce means visitors that convert.

For a long time already, Facebook and Google have been the go-to resources for e-commerce companies to find new customers and reconnect with existing customers. The reason is very simple; these companies have the most data points on users by far. Thus, they can offer advertising solutions that easily outperform the competition in terms of targeting, optimization, and ultimately – performance.

But for Safari visitors, both Facebook and Google rely on 1st party cookies for their data collection solutions (both for pixels and server-side APIs). And, because of the cookie lifetime limiting effect of ITP, this data collection doesn’t work as intended.

From the flow chart above, we can conclude two things:

  • For the Chrome visitor, the cookie is preserved between visits
  • For the Safari visitor, the cookie is deleted between visits

For Safari visitors, services such as Google Ads and Facebook detect the visitor as a new visitor for each visit, making it impossible for their tracking solutions to connect the dots. This loss of data negatively impacts all parts essential to Google’s and Facebook’s ad platforms; audience groups, targeting, optimization, and attribution. We have tried to isolate the negative effect of ITP on remarketing over an extensive dataset of remarketing campaigns on Facebook spanning multiple years, and this is the result:

Disclaimer: The dataset consisted of remarketing campaigns on Facebook in the Nordics between 2017 and 2021. Results will vary depending on the distribution of browser Safari vs Chrome visitors (in the Nordics, the proportion of Safari visitors is generally higher compared to other parts of the world).

How can you find out if you are affected by ITP?

The ITP problem also affects analytics tools such as Google Analytics, as these too rely on cookies for visitor tracking. Follow the below steps to find out to what extent you are affected by ITP:

  1. In GA go to Audience -> Technology -> Browser & OS

The ITP problem also affects analytics tools such as Google Analytics, as these too rely on cookies for visitor tracking. Follow the below steps to find out to what extent you are affected by ITP:

1 . In GA go to Audience -> Technology -> Browser & OS

2 . Select a long timeframe, at least a couple of months

3 . Change the granularity of the graph to “month” instead of “day”.

4 . In the graph change the metric to “% New Sessions”

5 . In the bottom table on the left side check the rows for Safari and Chrome

6 . Then click the Plot Rows button just above

You should now see a graph like the one below:

In the graph, we can see that during most part of 2021, GA has registered far more visitors as “new visitors” for Safari (green line) compared to Chrome (orange line). After the installation of re:cookies (in the middle of November), the green line drops sharply and moves towards the orange line, which means that GA has started to register more Safari visitors as returning visitors.


How Safari handles cookies have changed over the last couple of years, which has had an increasingly deprecatory effect for e-commerce companies that rely on digital marketing for customer acquisition and retention.

For Safari visitors, Facebook’s and Google’s ad solutions are simply not performing well anymore.

The good news for e-commerce companies (and performance marketers in general) is that a service like re:cookies can solve the cookie problem and bring back marketing performance from the good old days.