Apple is delaying the rollout of a proposed privacy tweak in iOS 14 that permits customers to opt out of ad tracking until early next year.
Apple stated it’s doing so “to give developers the time they need to make the necessary changes.”
The actual date when the policy would be enforced is predicted to be announced later.
iOS 14, which is due in a few weeks, is all set to make device identifiers (known as IDFA or “Identifier for Advertisers”) — a definite, randomly generated code assigned to each iPhone and iPad — obsolete by requiring that third-party apps seek explicit consent from customers before using the unique IDs for tracking their actions throughout different apps and web sites.
But the privacy-centric feature has drawn criticism from advertising firms who say the move would make it tougher to deliver targeted advertisements to customers.
Last week, Facebook warned publishers that the change would make Audience Network, the social media platform’s ad service provided to third-party apps, ineffective and lead to loss of advertising revenues.
The firm claimed that blocking ad personalization would reduce Audience Network revenue by half or more, and that it could harm more than 19,000 developers who work with Facebook, a lot of which are “small businesses that depend on ads to support their livelihood.”
Tracking through the Apple device identifier permits Facebook and different third-party apps to tie an ad campaign to, say, an app download from an ad placed inside their apps, thereby permitting advertisers to focus on customers with contextually relevant advertisements.
Although the IDFA may be manually reset — Firefox’s owner Mozilla notably launched a petition last year urging Apple to automatically reset this identifier on a monthly basis — the ability to opt out of in-app ad monitoring and give customers more control over third-party apps is doubtless an enormous privacy upgrade.
Apple’s determination to put ad-tracking behind an opt-in barrier is easily its most aggressive change but, nevertheless it’s bad news for advertisers, who depend on IDFA to gather user information in an effort to deliver better advertisements and monitor whether or not customers interact with the advertisements they encounter.
In its place, Apple intends to switch to another ad measurement system, known as SKAdNetwork, that makes use of a privacy-safe advertising attribution to let advertisers know which ad campaigns worked without granting them access to granular knowledge or freely giving a user’s IDFA.
At the same time, hampering the ability to serve customized in-app ads to iPhone customers has raised issues that the transfer would give preferential access to Apple, whose advertising tool can be switched on by default, thus potentially giving it a “platform-level advantage over competitors.”
It’s worth noting that Apple isn’t yet a big contender in online advertisements business like Facebook or Google (and even Amazon), nevertheless it does serve customized advertisements within the App Store and on Apple News based mostly on customers’ online activities across its own apps.
But the truth that Apple’s ad personalization can be enabled by default in iOS 14, whereas forcing others to ask for users’ permission, is a sign that further limits other players from operating on its platform unless they choose to give in to their rules.
“Apple retains advantages that other ecosystem players cannot, simply because Apple owns the iOS platform,” said John Koetsier in Forbes last month. “Everyone else needs permission to allow ‘tracking,’ but Apple retains its access to more data.”
There’s no doubting the privacy benefits of the change, but it additionally conveniently sidesteps Apple’s efforts to focus on users with its personal promoting using data collecting from its users’ devices.
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