Privacy changes in Apple’s upcoming iOS 14 operating system upgrade have drawn an increasing amount of attention before a fall release (mainly from those who benefit from the advertising industry) – and Facebook made its strongest statement yet about what the changes could mean, suggesting it could halve revenues from its Audience Network business, a multibillion-dollar operation.
Digital publishers are also bracing for the impact, which could take away a sizable chunk of the revenues they draw from iPhone users.
Apple’s change involves the collection of its advertising identifier for users, called the IDFA – a tag that can help advertisers connect a click on an ad with an eventual app install on a device. Apps will be required to ask users whether they can be tracked, and if most users opt out, it could deal a heavy blow to an industry already reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When every publisher is fighting for every last advertising cent, this couldn’t come at a worse time,” DMG Media’s Martin Clarke tells the WSJ.
While Apple won’t prohibit tracking – instead putting the onus on app makers to get permission – one concern among publishers is the language being used to inform users of their rights. Europe’s GDPR left it to publishers to formulate that language, but claims of a “harshly worded prompt” from Apple lead many to believe a vast majority of users will opt out.
And the result may be ad-tech firms (many of whom expect ad rates to drop by up to 40%) writing off the Apple identifier. Branch Metrics’ Alex Austin tells WSJ that the firm’s assuming IDFA is “dead for everything we’re doing.”
And while not every publisher will see the same impact, the ones who moved faster into “programmatic” ad buying (and tend to have large numbers of iPhone users) could see meaningful impact.