Changes are underway on iOS and not everyone is happy about it.
Apple’s iOS 14 includes privacy updates for apps that rely on user data to make money. While the changes were first introduced in iOS 14, they will be mandatory in upcoming versions.
The new requirements, called App Tracking Transparency, require apps to ask permission to track user behavior. iPhone users can accept or deny this permission app by app or revoke it completely in their settings. In addition, apps in the App Store must disclose what kind of data the apps “associate” with you and collect about you. Apple calls this information “nutrition labels”.
The move is part of Apple’s campaign to position itself as a privacy-conscious company that has messed up the feathers of other companies trying to claim this title.
Apple’s nutrition labels in iOS 14 are a boon to privacy, but a thorn in the side of advertisers.
Most notably, Facebook has waged a PR war with Apple over the change. Facebook * also * likes to say that it’s really about privacy, but Apple’s labels show how much data Facebook collects about its users. The change threatens Facebook’s advertising product as it could limit the company’s ability to collect the mountains of data it uses to target ads.
While Facebook was vocal about the change, it is nowhere near the only company affected. Over the past few weeks, Apple’s big tech pals have released their annual financial reports that include executives’ views on what the next year holds for their moneymaking prospects. Executives weighed what the privacy updates did for their bottom line, and the responses ranged from genuine outrage to a big, bold “meh.” Here’s what the companies had to say.
Mark Zuckerberg delivered some promotional measures related to Apple’s business, claiming that nutrition labels and approvals would cement Apple’s dominance in messaging while hurting small businesses that “can no longer reach their customers with targeted ads.”
However, David Wehner, CFO of Facebook, elaborated on the importance of iOS 14 for Facebook.
“We must immediately ask for permission to use third-party data to serve personalized ads,” said Wehner. “We expect high opt-out rates, which are taken into account in our outlook.”
Snap executives said they expected the change to have a negative impact on the company’s advertising business, posing a “risk of disruption to demand” by advertisers. CEO Evan Spiegel was pretty much done with it anyway.
“When it comes to some of the policy changes that Apple is making, we really see them as people of high integrity and we’re excited that they are making the right decision for their customers,” said Spiegel.
Twitter claimed that all was going to be pretty good with its advertising business in the coming year. That’s despite the “modest impact” the iOS changes could have.
“Assuming that the global pandemic continues to improve and we see modest effects from the introduction of changes related to iOS 14, we expect total revenue to grow faster than spending in 2021,” stated the letter to shareholders from Twitter.
Google was aware of how Apple’s iOS changes would affect its tracking and advertising features. In response to a question about “some of the changing privacy industry dynamics” (* cough * Apple) and investor expectations “about the potential impact of changes in privacy on advertising revenue in general,” executives spoke more broadly and focused on focusing on Google’s latest move to replace third-party cookies with its own product.
“We know that the expectations of the online use of data are really changing. And people are demanding more data protection,” said Philipp Schindler, SVP of Google and Chief Budget Officer. “We’re still very committed to working with the ad community to uphold open standard data protection mechanisms that, as we call it, can maintain a healthy, ad-supported web.”
However, Google specifically failed to mention that it is also considering changes similar to (but supposedly less extreme than these) Apple’s. It also didn’t address the fact that it conspicuously failed to update its iOS apps, an update that is delaying some speculation from Google as it requires Google apps like Gmail or YouTube to reveal how much data they collect .