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Starting with iOS 8, you might become ‘the product’ for Apple as well

Published Oct 16th, 2014 8:30PM EDT
iOS 8 Privacy iAd Advertising
Image: Zach Epstein, BGR

Apple has strongly advertises the privacy and security features of its products, arguing that customers’ personal data that’s used by some of Apple’s competitors for advertising purposes isn’t of interest to Apple. Tim Cook made it clear in interviews and in an open letter to consumers that for Apple, you aren’t the product. However, even if Apple is trying to offer users enhanced privacy-guarding features, it’s also trying to improve its faltering ad business, Digiday has learned.

FROM EARLIER: This might be Apple CEO Tim Cook’s most important message yet

According to the publication, Apple’s iOS 8 made it easier for ad agencies relying on Apple’s iAd advertising platform to retarget ads based on the user’s in-app browsing behaviors.

That means Apple will offer access to some personal data, allowing them to track users in apps, and across devices.

“Say, for example, a visitor to a retailer’s iPhone app adds a pair of shoes to his cart but ultimately decide not to buy it,” Digiday writes. “In this scenario, the retailer will now be able to retarget that user with an ad for that exact pair — even in another app on his iPad. When tapped, the ad would direct him back to his abandoned checkout page and automatically add the shoes to his online shopping cart.”

The move is supposed to also help app developers, who can also use iAds to attract more customers to their apps, games and even in-app purchases.

For retailers, the data may be of great value considering the Christmas shopping season is almost here, and considering iPad and iPhone users have been proven to shop online much more often from mobile devices than users on competing mobile platforms.

Apple’s new iAd feature is all the more interesting for advertisers as they seek tools to better track users on mobile devices where cookies are “functionally irrelevant.” In addition to Apple, other companies including Facebook, Google and Twitter are looking for ways to replace cookies with other personal identifiers for such ad-related purposes.

Even though Apple appears ready to share in-app behavior data with advertisers, the company lets users reset their advertising identifiers whenever they feel like it, and erase all previous information if they so desire (the option is available in the Settings app, under Privacy, at the Advertising section). An option to Limit Ad Tracking is also available in the same section.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.