What do Apple’s new privacy changes mean for marketers and advertisers?


Tech company Apple has made a significant privacy update. Following the release of the latest software update, iOS 14.5, there are new features. These updates indicate the Apple is shifting to protect the privacy of their users and how advertising identifiers are being tracked. For marketers, advertisers, and developers, there will be changes to how users opt-in to being tracked. 

In this article, I’ll go through the changes and what they mean to marketers. Remember to sign up at the end of the article to get these updates straight to your inbox.

Why is this Apple update significant for marketers?

In terms of smartphones, Apple iOS takes up 13% of global market share, meaning a significant part of your audience is using an iPhone to search, sign-up or buy your products.

In addition to this, iPhone users have greater spending power than Android users, as iPhone users earn an average of $16K more in yearly salary. 

This is a key customer group – from your own data you’ll be able to see the percentage of your users who are coming from an iPhone or Apple device. If you are running retargeting campaigns based on mobile ad IDs, this article is particularly urgent for you.

What are the new Apple features?

There have been updates including new emojis, which may mean you can finally have the right way to respond after meeting a campaign deadline.

The more significant update for both customers and marketers is the App Tracking Transparency.

What Apple’s privacy changes?

The App Tracking Transparency is Apple’s major privacy update. To explain it, let’s first talk about Apple’s current tracking and the advertising identifier of its users.

Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) is the Apple system for advertisers to track user data. Developers use this and third-party tools / third-party cookies to track users and create user profiles. This is used when targeting e.g. a mobile app identifies the age of its users, selling a certain age group as a marketing segment to advertisers. 

iOS users have always been able to opt-out of IDFA. Users could turn off data sharing on their iPhone by going to Settings > Privacy and switching off the function. The latest update means that iOS users will now receive notifications to turn off cross-app tracking. 

If the user clicks “Ask app not to track,” the user asserts that they have not given consent. This means that the app can’t track customers, and an app developer can’t sell that data to other companies. This opt-out applies to both IDFA and the app’s own internal data tracking systems.

What tracking tools is Apple offering as an alternative?

Apple is offering alternative in-house tools as a part of this roll-out to prevent companies from getting user specific information. One tool is Private Click Measurement. Private Click Measurement will can tell marketers how many times users clicked on an ad for a product within an app. 

Most of the new tools mean that there will be more broad tracking, not the current granular information about each user is they have opt-ed into such tracking.

What does this mean for companies that own multiple apps?

There are many companies that track users across multiples apps. The biggest example of this is social media giant Facebook which tracks users via Instagram and WhatsApp. Facebook uses data collected to target ads across their suite. 

They will still be able to track users across different apps, but Facebook says that this change will hurt small businesses who run targeted ad campaigns, as it will be harder to target specific customers. Facebook estimates that around 80 percent of iOS users to opt out, which will in turn impact their advertising revenue and these changes can impact the pressure on other brands to offer this more proactive approach to data privacy.

What do Apple’s new privacy changes mean for marketers?

This has a high impact on digital advertising, and particularly marketers who are running paid campaigns.

Marketers may have restricted access to data that measures efficacy of ad campaigns and user segments. It may be that you need to set up pixel or alternative tracking, and update opt-in to tracking as well as privacy policy and cookie policy. To sum up, it’s two parts of getting explicit permission for tracking and how this will influence how personalised the advertising with these restrictions.

As we’ve mentioned before, this speaks to the trends in user privacy. Customers are becoming more aware of their data and it’s changing the approach to consumer privacy. In a previous Cisco privacy survey, 29% of respondents said that they were “Privacy Active Consumers”. These customers are actively opting out of tracking, checking why and how they are being tracked, and choosing not to use products if they do not feel comfortable with how that company will use their data. This change from Apple means that people who may not be as ‘privacy active’ now have an easier way to opt-out, and are prompted to do so.

It is not just consumers, there is pressure from groups with significant backing. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has spoken out in support of these changes and there is a growing vocal push for companies to follow Apple’s standard.

This means that marketers should look carefully at their current data practices and advertising campaigns. If there is significant and unbalanced spend, particularly relying on intense user tracking, it may be time to audit your data compliance.

This doesn’t need to be difficult, complete a compliance quick check here. 

Does that mean iPhones or iOS are more secure?

Yes and no. There is no additional security or encryption. This update just means that users have more say in their information.

Users will still need to keep information secure and passwords updated. Companies will still need to keep user data secure, ensure there is opt-in and keep privacy policies updated. 

It has a knock-on impact of being more secure as specific iOS user data not being shared as widely, meaning that there is less touch points in which user data is shared. There may be less chance of data breaches due to users restricting their data.

When will there be another iOS update?

It is estimated there may be a iOS 15 update in mid-September 2021, however this has not been confirmed.

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