Apple’s new app tracking privacy protocols may actually benefit Facebook and Google

Apple’s App Tracking Transparency privacy feature is imminent (to roll out early next week with the release of iOS 14.5). It requires apps to request permission from users before tracking them across other apps and websites. Under Settings, users will also be presented a list of which apps have requested permission to track so they can make changes if they desire. Writing for Bloomberg Opinion, Tae Kim says Apple’s new app tracking privacy protocols may actually benefit Facebook and Google.

A new App Tracking Transparency feature across iOS, iPadOS, and tvOS will require apps to get the user’s permission before tracking their data across apps or websites owned by other companies.
A new App Tracking Transparency feature across iOS, iPadOS, and tvOS will require apps to get the user’s permission before tracking their data across apps or websites owned by other companies.

Tae Kim for Bloombeger Opinion:

Apple revealed on Tuesday that its next software update for iPhones, rolling out next week, includes its AppTrackingTransparency requirement. The long-awaited privacy feature will for the first time force all apps to request permission to track a user’s activities across other companies’ apps. Some analysts project more than half of consumers will decline tracking…

This is a big deal. For those users who opt out, app makers will no longer be able to share the kind of information on activity — such as search topics, types of items purchased and interests — that has allowed developers to compile detailed personal profiles for targeting ads effectively. Advertisers, too, will be at a disadvantage because they will be less able to see which ads led to an online sale or app installation, hurting their ability to measure campaign performance. Ad prices may drop as a result…

Even as this move would seem to be a victory for consumers, the reality is it may increase the dominance of the biggest platforms… Last month, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained why the development could make the company stronger over time. He said it would compel more businesses to buy advertising and sell goods on their platforms as targeted ads elsewhere become less effective. “I’m confident that we are going to be able to manage through that situation,” he said as a guest on the Clubhouse show “PressClub.” “We’ll be in a good position.”

Zuckerberg is probably right. Digital advertising dollars will have to flow somewhere, and Apple’s new policy does nothing to stop companies from tracking user behavior inside their own apps and ecosystems. So the assets of incumbents Facebook and Google parent Alphabet Inc. — both of which have unrivaled quantities of internal data on what the billions of users on their platforms buy or are interested in — become even more valuable for advertisers.

MacDailyNews Take: From personal experience, nearly twenty years now (!), the life of an independent publisher is an interesting one!

Right now, online ads don’t pay the bills (if you can, please help by contributing or by whitelisting us in your ad blockers), so the prospect of ad prices dropping further as a result of Apple’s App Tracking Transparency is daunting, but also exciting as any shakeup also holds the prospect of going the opposite way, where ads – and fewer of then, too – actually worked to finance the site. Visitors got a site for free and we were able to do the work and pay the bills. As you all know, ad rates dropped, ad blocking arose, the number of ads increased causing more ad blocking, and many high profile independent websites have gone belly up in recent years.

By the way, we’re all for Apple’s App Tracking Transparency privacy push. Users should know what data they’re sharing – before they share it – and be able to control it at will.

Privacy means people know what they’re signing up for, in plain English, and repeatedly. I’m an optimist; I believe people are smart, and some people want to share more data than other people do. Ask them. Ask them every time. Make them tell you to stop asking them if they get tired of your asking them. Let them know precisely what you’re going to do with your data. — Steve Jobs

Anyway, we’ll see how App Tracking Transparency shakes out. The online ad situation as it exists today isn’t working very well (or at all), so hopefully it results in a positive change that doesn’t just benefit Big Tech, but also helps long-suffering independent publishers like us, too!

As an aside (we’ll probably do a standalone article on this soon, too), we’re currently seeing about 15% of our revenue goal financed by reader contributions about a year after launching it at the request of longtime readers who prefer to use ad-blockers, but who would also like to be able support the site’s continued operation. We thank you so much for supporting our independent tech blog. You’re the reason we’re still here today!

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Another 20% of our revenue goal is brought in via ads. Yes, we’re currently operating at about 35% of our revenue goal which is, uh… suboptimal, but we’re beginning to come off the COVID-19 shock to online advertising and now ready to see what App Tracking Transparency will do – hopefully good things!


  1. What Apple is doing surely isn’t hurting Facebook or Google as analysts are boosting those stocks price targets higher and higher. I’m not sure what Facebook was complaining about with Apple’s privacy changes as it doesn’t seem to be hurting Facebook at all.

    1. it will take time to see the results. As huge as Apple is, the change of one OS feature won’t change the markerplace overnight.

      This assumes, too, that the MDN whiners haven’t started their massive Apple boycott yet. Ever since their loser politician idol got creamed in the last presidential election, they come here to express their unbridled hate of everything about Apple and any social development in society that may have occurred since women were allowed to work outside the kitchen and laundry rooms. Surely they will crush Apple’s chances of further progress.

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