Leave it to Apple to cause a big stir. The tech pioneer recently released iOS 14, whipping people into a frenzy about iPhone data privacy and advertisers’ use of data. While plenty of cool features were part of the release (e.g. unlocking your phone while wearing a face mask and plentiful new emojis), the buzz was mostly around what Apple is calling its App Tracking Transparency feature. If you’re wondering how such iOS updates might impact your advertising (or personal phone usage), here’s an overview.
What’s the Change?
First, remember that Apple has always been a big champion of user privacy. Steve Jobs was once quoted as saying, “I believe people are smart and some people want to share more data than other people do. Ask them. Ask them every time. Make them tell you to stop asking them if they get tired of your asking them. Let them know precisely what you’re going to do with their data.” This philosophy offers a window into the new App Tracking Transparency feature. In a nutshell, the new iOS 14 update asks users to opt into tracking instead of opting out, which was the previous norm. Even though users could technically opt-out of tracking before, this new move puts the issue at the forefront and potentially makes users think about it more.
What’s The Response?
Most privacy advocates are all about this new feature but, as you can imagine, many advertisers (and advertising platforms) are up in arms about it. Facebook, in particular, has been very vocal in opposing it. The social media giant even made changes to its own attribution settings in January in response to the Apple update. Consumers generally like this move. It puts them in the driver’s seat and allows them to know, without a doubt, how their data is being used. If a consumer selects the “Ask App Not to Track” button when it pops up in an app, the developer won’t be able to access the ad identifier (IDFA). If a developer does track users who don’t want to be tracked, they will either be forced to change their practices - or be rejected from the Apple App Store (ouch).
What’s The Impact on Ads?
Of course, the reality is that many consumers may choose to not allow tracking of their data. If this happens, advertisers will have less information to tap into - and potentially end up with less effective ads. That’s the bummer news. But, given that it ultimately respects an individual’s right to privacy, we think it’s actually a positive step for all. But the good news is that Apple is also working on ways that advertisers can measure the impact of their ads without tracking users. This would be the best of both worlds; highly effective ads that don’t require a sacrifice in privacy. There are two tools in particular that Apple has in development:
- SKAdNetwork - This ad network API is purported to help advertisers measure the success of ad campaigns without invading privacy. It lets advertisers know how many times an app was installed after ads for it were seen, so they can measure the impact of their campaign. But, this information is designed not to share any user or device-level data, so advertisers won’t be tracking users.
- Private Click Measurement - This tool allows advertising networks to measure the effectiveness of advertisement clicks within iOS or iPadOS apps that navigate to a website. This information can be used to understand which advertisements drive conversions (such as purchases or signups) — while maintaining user privacy.
The main trend we’re seeing in data privacy is a shift toward insights into the actions and behaviors of groups, instead of singling out individual user behavior. This is a solid approach, as it helps advertisers get the information they need to optimize their ads while also empowering consumers the right to choose how their data is used. We’ll be sure to keep you posted as we learn more about this and other issues that impact advertising. Need help planning your ad strategy? We’re here, ready and waiting to get you started.