Apple’s recently launched iPhone privacy feature, App Tracking Transparency (ATT), is proving to be a triumphant success – that is, if you care about privacy.
According to a recent Bloomberg article, iOS 14.5s ATT has, as predicted, really hurt people like Facebook and its advertisers. The latest figures from Branch, which analyzes the growth of mobile apps, actually show that 75% of iPhone users choose not to be tracked across iPhones.
Launched in April, ATT effectively spelled the end of the Advertiser Identifier (IDFA), a unique code that lets apps track you across apps and websites you use on your iPhone. If you say no to the new “Allow app to track”
The effect of this is enormous, as IDFA was used to measure the success of advertising campaigns – for example, if someone saw an ad on Facebook but typed the site into Google and took up the site, it was possible to track this. No more – and combined with the fact that there is now less available data that can be collected by external websites and sent back to Facebook, it has become much more difficult to track, profile and target users with ads.
Facebook said a while back that advertisers would be harmed, and Bloomberg confirms this, citing people in the advertising industry who say that this data removes a “source of truth” that measures advertising effectiveness.
Privacy-focused business model works for Apple
Apple’s ATT feature forces companies such as Facebook and advertisers to change the model. This is not a bad thing, since the previous model was destroyed, with intrusive tracking that was an invasion of people’s privacy.
Facebook says that they are looking at other ways to measure the success of the ads, but it must be done with privacy in mind. As Google’s proposed and now failing FLoC experiment shows, users will not just take new measures from the big technology companies at face value. It’s also about trust – and in that way Apple wins the battle with Facebook and Google.
It’s fair to say that ATT was a great move by Apple, but it’s also important to remember that privacy is a business model that works for the iPhone manufacturer. Unlike Facebook and Google, Apple makes its money through its own fenced-in garden ecosystem of hardware, software and services. The model is not based on data collection and tracking to show you ads.
It is therefore no surprise that Apple has made a big deal with the new iPhone privacy feature, with a TV advertising campaign showing users how invasive ad tracking is. Apple CEO Tim Cook says privacy is a fundamental human right – and he’s right.
And while Apple takes advantage of the iPhone privacy features and anti-tracking ethos, it’s not the only one. The user – you – is increasingly gaining access to privacy as standard and design, and there is certainly something to be happy about.