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Apple’s iPhone is so good at protecting privacy, advertisers are giving up and switching to Android

Published Jul 6th, 2021 7:21PM EDT
iPhone Privacy
Image: Maria_Savenko/Adobe

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The release of Apple’s App Tracking Transparency feature is already sending advertisers flocking to Android. Originally released as part of iOS 14.5, Apple’s new iPhone privacy-oriented feature provides users with an unprecedented amount of control over the data apps are allowed to track.

Apple notes on its website that App Tracking Transparency “lets you control which apps are allowed to track your activity across other companies’ apps and websites for ads or sharing with data brokers.”

Apple views iPhone privacy as a key iOS feature

Because Apple views privacy as a cornerstone feature of the iPhone, app tracking on iOS is turned off by default. As a result, users who are okay with apps tracking their activity must now opt-in. Early reports suggest that 96% of iOS users aren’t opting into app tracking, which is exactly the scenario platforms like Facebook were afraid of. A more recent report indicates that more than 75% of iOS users aren’t opting into app tracking. Regardless, the takeaway here is clear: most users aren’t keen on app tracking when pro-actively presented with a choice.

Advertisers are now flocking to Android

Apple’s App Tracking Transparency framework makes it harder for advertisers to compile data on individual iPhone users. Consequently, advertisers who have long favored iOS advertising are setting their sights on Android.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Digital advertisers say they have lost much of the granular data that made mobile ads on iOS devices effective and justified their prices. In recent months, ad-buyers have deployed their iOS ad spending in much less targeted ways than were previously possible, marketers and ad-tech companies say.

All told, Apple’s iPhone privacy push has resulted in a 33% drop in advertising spend on iOS devices. Meanwhile, the Journal highlights how one digital ad agency – Tinuiti Inc. — has seen ad spend on Android jump by nearly 50% since May.

Facebook argues Apple cares more about profit than privacy

Not surprisingly, Facebook hasn’t been shy about criticizing Apple’s App Tracking feature. All the way back in December, Facebook said that Apple’s goal was to “force businesses to turn to subscriptions and other in-app payments for revenue, meaning Apple will profit and many free services will have to start charging or exit the market.”

Facebook also said that Apple’s new framework will hurt small businesses struggling to survive in a post-coronavirus pandemic world. Facebook cited one of its own studies and relayed that small businesses might see a 60% drop in website sales from ads as a result of Apple’s new rules.

Apple initially announced its updated app tracking guidelines at WWDC 2020. The company, however, didn’t implement it right away with the release of iOS 14. On the contrary, Apple delayed the rollout so that advertisers and platforms like Facebook could plan accordingly. And even though advertisers are flocking to Android, there’s no reason to believe that Apple will reverse course anytime soon. Recall, Apple takes iPhone privacy incredibly seriously. In 2018, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that “privacy is a fundamental human right.”

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.

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