Adobe Responds to Recent Apple CNAME Changes

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For those not in the know, the analytics community maintains a Slack channel known as In the #adobe-analytics channel today, December 1st, 2020, Adobe issued a point of view on the recent CNAME changes imposed by Apple in early November. It is as follows:

Hey folks. Wanted to provide an update on Adobe’s perspective of the recent ITP changes to how cookies set via CNAME implementations are handled under ITP. Looks like the original thread is no longer visible so will just post here. Apologies for the long post.

While we think this is an overreach by Apple, we expect that any response along the lines of DNS registrations will be countered with more limitations by Apple. For example, A Name registration has been suggested as a possible solution, but Apple could easily determine IP addresses associated with Adobe and other providers and treat those differently. 

Also, this solution would require regular updates to IP addresses as they change regularly on the Adobe side. There are other possible solutions but pretty much all of them could easily be closed down. Some customers send Analytics data through their CDNs who forward it to Analytics. We think this is something Apple would not interfere with, but it would obviously incur some cost with the CDN. Adobe is not offering this as a solution per se, but I’m happy to describe it to anyone who might like to pursue this independently.

Given the increasing activism from Apple and others, the emphasis going forward will be on allowing customers to manage their own first-party IDs, whether that is a first-party cookie, authenticated user id, or some other internal id. 

Analytics currently provides several ways customers can get more durability out of their identifiers. For those using server-side collection, the Bulk Data Insertion API allows users to provide their own ID. This could be their first-party cookie or any other durable id. Cross-Device Analytics (requires an Ultimate license) allows customers to stitch across visitors using either a device graph or any Analytics variable (field-based stitching).

Customer Journey Analytics
(CJA), the next generation of Analytics, is built to flexibly use any ID or even multiple IDs to tie together the customer journey. Adobe Experience Platform which CJA is built on, is designed to store data across multiple namespaces, facilitating stitching across cookie ids and many other ids. Customer Journey Analytics is then able to include data from outside of traditional browser and app environments.

The long-term picture is that browser and app identifiers may be somewhat limited depending on the client activities, but Analytics and Adobe Experience Platform will provide tools to tie those to more durable ids and to expand the scope of analysis to include data beyond the browser or app.

It’s important to note that Analytics first-party cookies still have a lot of value. Cookies set on OS/Safari, set via CNAME or client-side JS, will persist for 7-days and Chrome has announced no plans to limit Analytics’ first-party cookies. As noted, in the original blog post regarding ITP, you can first check to see how much your customer’s traffic is actually impacted. It may not be significant. For Visitor reporting you can look at Page View/Visitor ratios for unimpacted browsers then apply that ratio to iOS/Safari traffic using Segmented Calculated Metrics.

-Shay O’Reilly

So in contrast to other vendors pushing people to switch from CNAME records to A/AAAA records, Adobe is advocating for allowing customers to issue their own ids and be able to properly stitch them across the platform and will be pursuing this as their strategy.

With that said, it’ll be up to organizations to come up with a stable durable id (such as setting it via a cookie set via a server-side header) and using that id to pass to Adobe through the Tag Manager in order for the longer lookback windows to work. This will likely involve working with development teams and/or Search Discovery’s crackerjack browser privacy impact team to come up with a solution.

As the work for your specific use case could vary, I advise reviewing the above statement with your development team or external agency before panicking or changing anything. Read how various platforms are being affected here.

Also, you can sign up on the form on this page to receive Search Discovery’s free audit of your site. Learn more about the potential impact these changes can have on your data.

We'll keep you posted on all the latest privacy news.

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