Apple’s iOS 14 update brings with it a significant change to their ATTF, or App Tracking Transparency Framework. To give users more control over how their data is shared, iOS now prompts users whenever they open a new app for the first time and asks permission for the app to track their data.
This data-tracking process is not new, of course. It is a vital component in targeted ads. In fact, some apps have customized their prompts to explain why users should allow the tracking, namely that it allows for more relevant advertisements. If an app does not include the privacy prompt, it will be removed from the market.
It is important to note that the option to opt-out has always been available to iOS users, but up until now it has been tucked away in settings. Now users will be forced to make the choice every time they download and open a new application.
While this may seem like a win for users, it is presenting a problem to marketers, something Facebook in particular has been very vocal about. The fear is that most users, when prompted, will deny the request. Facebook relies on the user behavior data generated by tracking to employ targeted advertisements and measure how well they are working.
Dan Levy, Facebook’s Vice President of Ads and Business Products, has spoken out against the update, saying that it will hurt small businesses that have gone digital in an effort to survive the pandemic. Facebook has started the hashtag #StandUpforSmallBusinesses and has created a page for small business owners to share their experience with the new update and how it is affecting them.
iOS users make up 60% of the US mobile operating market share, so it is not surprising how detrimental this update is to marketers. In the first two weeks after Apple launched the update, the daily opt-in rates for US mobile users were a mere 4-6%, according to Flurry Analytics.
This is going to decrease data on iOS 14 users across the board. By allowing users to opt-out of data monitoring on a per-app basis, advertisers are going to have trouble collecting information. The less they know also means the less they can share with others, which is going to have a snowball effect.
Not only will this hurt the effectiveness of social media marketing, but it will also limit how much marketers can report on. Without access to this data, it makes it difficult to gauge which ad campaigns are working and which are not. Again, there is a snowball effect, because without knowing what campaigns are successful, marketers will not know what actions to take in the future.
This is a blow to social media marketing, but it is definitely not the end of it. Marketers have always had to adapt, and they will adapt again. User privacy has always been a concern that marketers have had to work around, and this is not any different than any other roadblock.