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10 min read

Apple IOS 17 Link Tracking Protection from a Marketing Attribution Perspective

By Scott Desgrosseilliers on Jun 16, 2023 12:08:08 PM

Apple IOS 17 - short term data slippage, long term upheaval


  • UTMs, Facebook click IDs, and Google click IDs are going to be stripped from IOS17 links - both iPhone and Mac
  • Tracking and reporting solutions relying on link identification text are going to be impacted
  • Approaches on tracking and attribution post IOS 17 are given below
  • With our deep partnerships with Google and Facebook, we heard about Apple's work on removing link IDs and UTMS (they call it "link decoration") back in Spring 2022.
  • It took all 13 years of our experience in tracking & attribution - but Wicked Reports users will still have accurate marketing attribution and optimization
The Scoop on IOS 17 and Link Tracking:
Apple has announced IOS 17, and it's causing some marketing world drama.

In particular, this paragraph has thrown us digital marketers into an uproar:

Link Tracking Protection in Messages, Mail, and Safari Private Browsing
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 means users can select a setting that will strip all UTMs, variables, and click IDs from Facebook, Google, TikTok, Microsoft, et al.  

With Google Analytics 4 being pushed onto everyone, it's divine timing that Apple drops a bomb on GA4's potential data accuracy.

On the surface, you hear it's for private browsing mode, and relax - that's similar to incognito mode in Chrome, which people generally only use to snoop around or visit certain late night sites...right?

But then I was shared this video from Travis Ketchum, and this might be a bigger deal than I thought.  The video goes right to the time stamp that has the Link Tracking Protection settings - and it sure seems easy to turn this on for ALL browsing.

Topics: Email Marketing Automatic Link Builder Facebook conversions UTM value UTM UTM values Attribution Health WBRAIDS GCLID
6 min read

Gclids, Gbraids Wbraids - what is going on?

By Scott Desgrosseilliers on May 4, 2021 4:12:54 PM

Most Google advertisers understand that Google click IDs (known as GCLIDs) can help power Google Ad smart bidding campaigns when they are captured and uploaded back to Google.

However, GCLIDs have recently started “disappearing” in some cases, and/or being replaced by GBRAIDs and WBRAIDs in certain instances. Why is this happening?

It all comes down to changes Google has made in the wake of Apple’s iOS14.5 software update.

NOTE: Apple has done it again with IOS 17. To read about why GBRAIDS and GCLIDS are doing to "disappear", click here

In summary, if a click is coming from an iOS device, and the user has opted out of tracking, you will see either a GBRAID or WBRAID, depending on criteria you can read about below.

If your Google Ad click is coming from a NON-iOS device, you will still see GCLIDs and be able to optimize them as normal.

Here are all of Google’s resources on this change:

Bidding considerations for impacted campaigns
Campaigns using Smart Bidding will continue to set bids based on the most accurate measurement available. However, we recommend that you prepare for the above changes by closely monitoring the performance and delivery of all campaigns serving on iOS traffic and, if necessary, make adjustments to budgets and Smart Bidding CPA or ROAS targets to help you achieve your goals. For example: If you would like to increase spend, you can raise CPA targets or lower ROAS targets as needed.

When Apple’s ATT policies take effect, we will no longer send the Google click identifier (GCLID) for ads on iOS 14 traffic coming from impacted Google apps. This new ATT compliant parameter, known as “wbraid”,replaces gclid on most iOS surfaces. Advertisers should ensure that the destination websites in their advertising campaigns can receive an additional passed URL parameter and that any web attribution systems they may have can support this parameter, when needed. On non-iOS surfaces, “gclid” will continue to serve as the primary mechanism by which we attribute conversions. Please note that search is not affected by this change, and will continue to use gclid.

Q: What should my advertiser do to ensure they are prepared?
A: As a best practice, we recommend the advertiser implement One Google Tag (OGT) (gTag.js and/or Google Tag Manager).
In addition, a small percentage of advertisers may need to ensure their site is able to accept arbitrary URL parameters by following the directions here ->

Q: How does this new parameter work?
A: Similar to GCLID, this new parameter is dropped in a 1st party cookie set by A Google Tag (including gTag.js, gtm.js, and analytics.js linked to an ads account) when a user lands on a page after clicking on an ad. This parameter helps attribute conversions back to ad campaigns but does not uniquely identify the user.

Q: Why is this new parameter ATT compliant but gclid is not?
A: This new parameter uses techniques that ensure it cannot be tied back to any one individual user. wbraid uses aggregation techniques to ensure ATT compliance. We are exploring additional techniques like deidentification, in line with Apple’s ATT policies.

Q: What is the visible impact of this change?
A: This is a backend change that advertisers will not see in the Google Ads UI (front-end). The new parameter will be dropped in a 1st party cookie by default and this parameter will be used to pass conversions to your Google measurement solutions in an ATT compliant manner. As always, advertisers can opt out of 1st party measurement all together which will disable use of GCLID as well as this new parameter. Advertisers may see this new parameter present in some URLs that originate on iOS traffic

Q: What is the difference between the “gbraid” and “wbraid” parameters?
A: Both parameters function similarly, in that they are added to the URL (in place of historical identifiers) to measure when the ATT prompt is not accepted. Both parameters also use aggregation techniques to attribute conversions. However, notable differences exist as well:

  Gbraid Wbraid
Where is it used? App measurement (deep linked campaigns) Web measurement
What campaign types? Search/Shopping YouTube/Display/Discovery
Example? Web→ App. Joe clicks on a web ad for shoes, which takes him to a popular shoe app. In the app, Joe purchases a pair of shoes
App → Web. An ad for shoes runs in the YouTube app. Joe clicks on the ad and it takes him to the shoe brand’s website. On the site Joe purchases a pair of shoes
Reporting Granularity No change to reporting granularity No change to reporting granularity