Apple Implements New Data Tracking Protection

11th Aug 2021

Apple has recently updated its privacy policy to increase user protection on iPhones and iPads, with the aim of reducing unwanted or unmitigated data sharing and user behaviour tracking.

Apple device users will now be prompted, within apps that they use, to select whether or not they would like to allow the app to ‘track your activity across other companies’ apps or websites’, which is great from a consumer perspective, but has a long-tail knock-on effect from a digital marketing perspective.

In essence, advertisers that have relied on targeted advertising, including Facebook, will now face a far more gate-kept access to the data that had, to date, allowed them to generate significant revenues from paid advertising.

Apple have summarized the need for their update as follows: “Some apps have trackers embedded in them that have more data than they need – sharing it with third parties like advertisers and data brokers. They collect thousands of pieces of information about you to create a digital profile that they sell to others… to predict and influence your behaviors and decisions. This has been happening without your knowledge or permission.”

Previously, Apple users had to go into their phone’s settings to select and switch on or off their preferences around advert personalisation – Apple has now created a ‘shortcut’ for this by bringing in the active prompts.

What impact might this have for digital advertising?

Well, certainly initially, paid advertising conversions and revenues may decline, but actually, it’s also an opportunity for digital marketers to re-evaluate the way that campaigns are created and the value they offer.

Simply put, a company that has in-market credibility and a reputation for advertising responsibly and offering genuine value is more likely to have a higher acceptance rate amongst Apple device users when requesting the ability to track usage and behaviour to better serve their customers.

As Jennifer King, Privacy and Data Policy Fellow at the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence, recently told online publication NPR, “It’s very hard to know right now if iOS users will understand what this screen is asking them to do and whether they will ask their apps not to track in large enough numbers to have any real effect on revenue.

“It’s basically a real-time experiment that regulators, in particular EU regulators, will be watching closely—and if the companies survive it, it lends credence to the argument that regulation in this area will not doom online advertisers in the ways they’ve been claiming it will,” King says.

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