Apple, privacy and ad targeting

Inez Zimakowski
Inez Zimakowski
September 16, 2020 . 3min read

With Apple’s iOS 14 software update set to release to users this month with a new privacy rule to be implemented early next year, we thought we’d take a closer look at what the updates involve and what they mean for advertisers.

Apps have been somewhat notorious for their cheeky data collection and use of the iPhone’s microphone and camera to collect data from users. This may be a thing of the past, with a new user interface (UI) that lets users know exactly what every app is collecting, including financial information, browsing, purchases, demographic identifiers and contact information and, of course, location.

It is anticipated this will have the greatest impact on ad targeting, making it harder for marketers to create look-a-like audiences, retarget customers and segment groups. But what exactly will Apple’s privacy update involve and, most importantly, what can marketers do to prepare?

1.Cross-app tracking requires users to opt-in.
While most users would assume that commonly-used apps like Uber, Deliveroo and eBay collect and store their financial information, location and contact information, most may not be aware that this data is also being used to track them across apps and websites that are owned by other companies. The new UI interface will now require active opt-in from consumers to enable cross-app tracking.

2.Location sharing gets a downgrade.
Location sharing will now have the option to share an ‘approximate location’ rather than exact coordinates. This is intended to make it harder for apps to keep track of a user’s whereabouts.

3.Safari blocks third-party cookies.
While technically not included in the iOS 14 update, it is worth noting that earlier this year, Apple updated Safari so it blocks third-party cookies by default. This puts Safari two years ahead of Google Chrome, which stated earlier this year it will start to phase out third-party cookies but not fully until 2022.

4.Users will know when Facebook and YouTube are listening.
Apple will start notifying users when a brand is listening to conversations by adding a visual indicator to its status bar, in the form of an orange dot, which will appear when the phone’s camera or microphone is in use.

What does this mean for marketers and can they prepare?

While Apple’s privacy changes will hit brands with apps harder than other brands, there are still several things that all brands can do to prepare for a data restricted future.

Nail opt-in messaging. As marketers will be able to edit the text in the new Apple consent pop-up, it’s important to nail the messaging to increase the chances of users agreeing to sharing their data. The Nike Run app communicates clearly in its consent push notifications and states exactly what its data is used for. Nike also taps into the social element of running apps to discourage users to go on private, saying they will ‘no longer be able to engage in social activities’ – talk about FOMO.

Be transparent. Given 56% of Australian consumers say they want more control over their data it pays to tell users exactly what information is being collected, what is being stored, and what is being used for cross-app and cross-platform tracking. The Guardian does a great job at detailing the ins-and-outs of its data policy.

Demonstrate the benefits. The most compelling opt-in messages show users exactly how their data is benefiting their personal experience, whether it be in-app or on a website. For example, Channel Ten warns users that their on-demand experience might be slower or may not work correctly with ad-blocker - simple but highly effective as users want a seamless viewing experience.

Strengthen the way you collect first-party data. With third-party data under threat, there’s no better time to invest in first-party data using tactics like sales promotions, polls, and competitions. Here's a deck we shared last week with a plethora of accessible ways to start strengthening data collection.

And if all else fails, remember that the original form of targeting was always contextual placement and this is not only still very much available, but can be more effective than behavourial targeting. Yet, whatever your strategy, don’t bury your head in the sand – Apple may have delayed some of these changes, but they are definitely on the horizon and getting closer by the day.

Image credit: @matthewhenry

Inez Zimakowski

Inez Zimakowski

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