JAN 14 2021

Apple’s iOS 14 Privacy Policy Broken Down

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT APPLE’S iOS 14 POLICY


In June 2020, at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple announced product and policy changes, which will affect data sharing across iOS. On 3 September 2020 the company announced an extension period for implementing its new privacy guidelines for iOS 14 to allow companies more time to bring their apps in line with the new feature. The changes are expected to be in effect early in 2021.

The iOS 14 update, enforced via iOS 14’s AppTrackingTransparency (ATT), is designed to give users the choice to block the IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers) at the app level, which means that users will not be tracked by default anymore.

This means that, going forward, apps will be required to get permission from users to track them or access their device’s IDFA.

Another key change in iOS 14 is in location sharing. iOS 14 allows users to choose whether they want to share their precise location, or a broader, less precise radius.

These changes have the potential to impact how mobile is utilised for insights, targeting, and conversion attribution, which will not only affect app developers and publishers who monetise their apps but also advertisers.


HOW IS THE iOS 14 POLICY ENFORCED?

Previously, consumers had to opt-out if they didn’t want to be tracked. Now, when a user installs or updates their iOS, a prompt will appear. To provide permission to the app to track them, they will need to explicitly opt-in. However, Apple has noted that developers like Facebook will be able to edit a section of the text that appears in the prompt to explain why users should allow tracking.


FACEBOOK IS STANDING UP FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

Facebook has spoken out against Apple’s iOS 14 policy in a full-page newspaper ad, which appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post, arguing that Apple's move will force small businesses to turn to subscriptions and other in-app payments for revenue.

Responding to Facebook’s ad, Apple said: “We believe that this is a simple matter of standing up for our users. Users should know when their data is being collected and shared across other apps and websites — and they should have the choice to allow that or not.” The company noted that the new feature does not force Facebook to change the way it tracks users and approaches targeted advertising, instead “it simply requires they give users a choice.”

While Facebook supports proactive privacy measures and data transparency, they clearly don't agree with Apple's policy changes. In fact, their stance is that the new changes are about profit, not privacy and that the new policy is actually pushing businesses and developers into a business model that benefits Apple’s bottom line.


APPLE’S iOS 14 POLICY IS MORE ABOUT PROFIT THAN PRIVACY

According to Facebook, Apple’s iOS 14 policy changes are part of a strategy to expand their fees and services business in two ways:

  • Apple tax: Since Apple’s hardware sales are slowing down, they have to gain more revenue from their services business and one of the ways they can do this is with Apple tax.

    According to Facebook, the iOS 14 policy is forcing content creators to turn to ways to make money outside of advertising, such as charging subscription fees or in-app payments. These fees are subject to an Apple tax ranging from 15% to 30%, which is big business for Apple. In 2019, Apple’s App Store platform grossed around $50 billion and with these changes, Apple stands to profit even more.

  • Apple’s advertising business: Apple’s own personalised ad platform is not subject to the new iOS 14 prompt requirement they’ve imposed on other companies. In fact, Apple uses data it collects, including in-app purchase data collected from within apps owned by other companies, to improve the effectiveness of their own ads products. And those users who don’t want Apple using their data for ads, have to go find the setting deep within their iPhone settings.

WHAT DOES THE iOS 14 POLICY MEAN FOR ADVERTISERS?

  • Advertisers will be unable to accurately count all conversions for iOS users who’ve opted out, which may make it more difficult to understand the value that ads are driving for their business. Advertisers should expect to see a reduction in reported conversions across the board, even though these conversions will still be happening.

  • Advertisers won’t be able to target or exclude ads to opted-out individuals based on website or app engagement. This will cause people to see ads that are potentially less relevant for them.

  • Advertisers will be unable to accurately attribute app installs to people using iOS 14 and later.

However, Apple has noted that it is expanding its privacy-preserving SKAdNetwork ad attribution API. This will allow third-party ad networks serving ads across a wide variety of apps to provide ad attribution to developers without knowing the identity of the user.

Once Apple requires the ATT prompt, Facebook will introduce Aggregated Event Measurement to support measurement of web events from iOS 14 users. It is designed to help advertisers measure campaign performance in a way that is consistent with users’ decisions about their data.

Although personalised advertising will be impacted by iOS 14, it will definitely live on.


WHAT CAN WE EXPECT IN FUTURE?

Of course, we don’t know how long it will take for the entire Apple user base to be active on iOS 14 or higher, and how many of those users will opt-in to tracking.

Regardless, we have no doubt that the advertising industry will rally together and develop new ways of delivering targeted advertising. Facebook is already providing updates with their solutions, as well as actions their partners can take to help minimise disruption, and will continue to introduce new ad features and measurement solutions to offer the best ad performance and measurement.

As a Facebook Preferred Partner, Signifi Media has been working closely with Facebook and other big players to set new privacy-compliant industry standards and to minimise iOS 14’s impact on our clients.

Apple may have a lot of control over the way brands leverage their mobile platforms, but it does not determine marketing success. At Signifi Media, we see it not as a challenge, but as an opportunity. With the right strategy, our clients will be able to offer more human and transparent communications, ultimately building trust and strengthening their relationship with their customers for better business results in the long-term, no matter what new changes Google, Apple, Facebook, or Amazon (GAFA) announce.


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