ITP 2.2 and A/B testing - are we screwed?
How ITP 2.1 ruins your life
For Safari 12.1 users, client-side cookies are capped to a 7 day expiration.
So when a visitor lands on your site and your A/B testing platform sets a cookie to record which variation they’re in … that cookie goes away in a week.
If they come back within a week, the cookie’s still there, and expiration can pushed out another 7 days. Yay!
But if they come back in 8 days (or longer) they’ll be treated as a new visitor, and possibly bucketed into a different variation. Bad UX and muddy data.
Questions to ask yourself:
A) What percentage of site traffic is on Safari 12.1?
B) What percentage of visitors come to the site multiple times, at intervals longer than 7 days?
C) What percentage of conversions come from visitors who meet conditions A and B?
How ITP 2.2 ruins your life slightly more
Some client-side cookies will be capped at 24 hours.
If we change “7 days” to “1 day” in condition B above, it’s probably a much bigger number. Scary stuff.
So, which cookies?
It’s got nothing to do with your site or A/B testing vendor; it depends on how visitors get to your site. Specifically, cookies are capped at 24 hours when:
- Visitors come from a “domain classified with cross-site tracking capabilities”
- They land on a URL with query parameters
There’s no official list of these cross-site tracking domains, but surely we’re talking about social sites and ad platforms at a minimum. And most of your traffic from these sites will have query parameters 😔
What to do about it
Ask another set of questions:
D) What percentage of visitors are coming from a site that might be classified as “having cross-domain tracking capabilities” and landing on a URL with query parameters?
E) What percentage of conversions from those visitors happen on a second (or subsequent) visit, more than 24 hours after their first visit?
Add up C and E, and decide how much you care about all this.
There are fixes out there, but no simple ones yet. And because cross-domain and subdomain tracking are factors in which fix will work for you, it’ll be a custom job. Dev work will be involved.
For some businesses, the upshot of this analysis will be “It’s not worth A/B testing right now.”
Wanna chat more about #cookiepocalypse? Hit Reply. Let’s problem solve, or just commiserate.
- ITP 2.2 announcement on the WebKit blog
- Long piece by Cory Underwood on Medium on how to measure the risk to your analytics and testing setup
- Optimizely’s ITP article
- AB Tasty’s ITP article
- Convert’s ITP article
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