Apple mobile phones and tablets take a significant step in privacy management. The new update of the operating system of the US company (iOS 14.5), available since yesterday, includes an important novelty: the user will be able to decide for the first time whether or not the applications they install can collect their data for advertising purposes. This is a major change. Until now, data collection occurred by default, without prior notice. There was nothing the user could do to change it. Since yesterday, the system will ask every time a download is made app If you want it to record the data generated on the device to share it with advertising companies and data brokers (the companies that collect and sell personal information).
Apple’s move completely alters the framework in which the digital advertising market moves. Personalized ads are possible precisely thanks to the profiling of individuals, which in turn is generated from the data collected about their digital activity. The reactions have not been left to wait. A group of nine large German media, advertisers and technology companies accused Apple on Monday of breaking antitrust rules by introducing changes to the privacy settings of iPhones that “will hurt the advertising market,” according to advanced the Financial Times.
Among those companies is Facebook, one of the big ones affected by the Apple movement. The company that Mark Zuckerberg runs lives by processing the data it extracts from users to serve advertising, a market that it dominates together with Google. Those who reject from their iPhone that the app Facebook users record their digital activity (what they buy, what other applications they use, what likes they have, etc.) they will contribute very little information to the social network. “We do not agree with Apple’s approach,” Facebook says in a statement. “His movement suggests that there is an exchange between personalized advertising and privacy, when in fact we guarantee both,” says the social network.
The Wall Street Journal point to a possible additional reason for Apple’s spin: Advertisers who want to place ads on iPhones will get more data on their campaign performance if they buy ad space directly from Apple than if they do so through third parties. Or put another way: the company that Tim Cook runs wants its share of a market, that of advertising. online, so far dominated with an iron fist by Google and Facebook.
Each Apple device has a unique code called IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers), a kind of license plate of the terminal, which allows the company and all developers of applications for iPhone and iPad to see how users behave when they browse the internet or they use third-party applications. Search history, purchases made, times of the day with the highest activity, favorite games, interactions with friends … everything is reflected in that fingerprint. From now on, those who do not want their information collected will have a zero IDFA value, so they will be virtually anonymous.
Google, whose Android operating system is present in more than 70% of mobile phones, uses a similar tracking system, called in this case AAID (Android Advertising Identifier). The company has no intention of applying measures similar to those that Apple just introduced. The Austrian activist for the protection of privacy Max Schrems, who sued both Apple and Google to remove these identifiers, considering that they violate EU law by tracking users without their consent, is clear why. As he told EL PAÍS recently in an interview, Apple’s turn towards privacy is possible because its business model does not depend on data marketing. Apple lives by selling mobiles; Google, from advertising (thanks to the data it collects).
Although the most used operating system in the world is Android, far ahead of iOS, the effect of Apple’s move will be great. “The iOS 14.5 update is one of the most radical changes in mobile marketing history,” said Daniel Junowicz, regional vice president for EMEA and Strategic Projects at data analytics and measurement firm AppsFlyer. “Although fewer in number than Android users, iOS users are more valuable to many companies because, on average, those who can afford an iPhone are assumed to have greater purchasing power,” Junowicz reasons.
“Although Android clearly dominates the app market, Apple’s limitations will have a clear impact on advertisers, who will have to balance their investment and explore new media and efficient recruitment strategies,” says Ramiro Sueiro, founder of the marketing agency. digital Gestazión and professor at The Valley business school.
Adapt or die
According to an internal survey by AppsFlyer, the rates of opt-in (who will agree to be tracked) could reach 41% on average. It is a higher value than that found in other studies, which estimate that only 20% or 10% will give their approval to be monitored. The war of advertisers and developers will be to convince the user that it is convenient for him to accept being monitored.
Facebook, for example, will display an informational window on how personalized ads work, “how they support small businesses and allow many applications to be free.” Whoever agrees to be tracked by Facebook and Instagram will see the same ads in those applications as before; whoever rejects it, says the social network, will continue to be exposed to ads, but theoretically less relevant to their profile as a consumer.
“The privacy notice does not have to be displayed automatically after downloading the application,” Junowicz explains. “Many companies are already testing whether it is better for them to teach the pop-up explanatory at the beginning or later, or before or after a more detailed explanation ”.
There is also a very intense, almost desperate search for technical solutions to overcome this limitation. Some, Sueiro points out, border on legality. This is the case of CAID, an alternative method to IDFA to track users without their consent, allegedly promoted by large Chinese technology companies such as Tik Tok or Tencent. “We will have to see what legal and even political implications these alternatives may have if they prosper.”
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.