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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios

A letter signed by nearly every major advertising trade group is criticizing Apple for its plan to use cookie-blocking technology in the updated version of its Safari web browser. In the letter, first obtained by AdWeek, they argue that the change will not only hurt the user experience but will also "sabotage the economic model for the Internet." They say Apple is replacing existing user-controlled cookie preferences with its own set of "opaque and arbitrary standards for cookie handling."

Why it matters: Tech companies are making these types of changes in response to backlash over advertising tactics that create a poor user experience — and now advertisers, who've become accustomed to using them for years, are fighting back.

The resistance follows other major moves by tech companies that seek to end unpleasant user experiences on the web. Earlier this year, Google said it would block traffic to any web page from its Chrome web browser whose ads didn't adhere to third-party standard that's largely agreed upon by most advertisers, but this has proven to be difficult for many websites to implement. Apple also said that it would block any ads accessed through Safari that autoplay video, and many websites autoplay video to be able to sell more ads.

Between the lines: The tech innovations in digital advertising that were embraced by publishers trying to monetize digital content and marketers hoping to better target ads, (like cookie-based targeting, web-tracking, etc.), were largely unregulated when introduced. As a result, the overuse of these tactics has created a unpleasant web experience for users. While most advertisers would agree that something needs to be done to create a less intrusive web environment, some argue that users don't actually want to see these type of changes.

"More than 68 million people that visit the cookies opt-out page have chosen to allow interest-based ads to continue," says Dan Jaffe, EVP at the National Association of Advertisers. "By doing this, Apple is saying 'we know better than consumers what they need.'"

Publishers are caught somewhere in the middle: Dave Grimaldi, EVP of Public Policy at the Interactive Advertising Bureau, says Apple's move "could prevent the types of digital ads that support publishers all across the web," meaning it would limit cheaper data-based ads from being sold. On the other hand, "it could be beneficial to publishers in that advertisers may be more motivated to buy ad inventory directly from publishers, which is far more lucrative for the publisher," says Keith Sibson, VP of Product & Marketing for digital marketing company PostUp.

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Fauci fires back at Rand Paul for slam on tonight's "Axios on HBO"

Responding to charges by Sen. Rand Paul on Sunday's "Axios on HBO," NIAID director Anthony Fauci told "ABC This Week" that it's "molecularly impossible" for U.S.-funded bat virus research in China to have produced COVID-19.

Why it matters: The issue 0f Wuhan research was reignited on the right last week with a National Institutes of Health letter to Congress disclosing more about the research.

Manchin, Schumer huddle with Biden in Delaware to discuss spending bill

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (L) and Sen. Joe Manchin (R) at the U.S. Capitol on Nov. 13, 2014. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) will meet with President Biden and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Sunday morning in Delaware as Democrats look to reach an agreement on the massive spending measure.

Driving the news: Democrats are still negotiating what to keep in the bill and how to pay for it, with Biden saying on Thursday that the party does not have the votes to raise the corporate tax rate.

4 hours ago - Technology

Scoop: Facebook exec warns of "more bad headlines"

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

In a post to staffers Saturday obtained by Axios, Facebook VP of global affairs Nick Clegg warned the company that worse coverage could be on the way: “We need to steel ourselves for more bad headlines in the coming days, I’m afraid.”

Catch up quick: Roughly two dozen news outlets had agreed to hold stories based on leaked materials from Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen for Monday publication — but the embargo fell apart Friday night as participating newsrooms posted a batch of articles ahead of the weekend.

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