More than half (56%) of marketers expect to see a negative effect from Apple's planned changes to the privacy settings on its devices, according to survey results that mobile attribution and marketing analytics firm AppsFlyer shared with Mobile Marketer. Apple next year plans to update its operating software to show a pop-up notice that gives device users a choice to stop device tracking after they download or update an app, making it more difficult for advertisers to target consumers.
The study found that 33% of marketers are somewhat likely to cut their mobile ad spending because of the change, while 19% said they're likely to shift ad spending within mobile. Eighty percent of respondents said it was likely that other mobile operating systems like Android would enforce "opt-in" controls on device identifiers, the survey found.
Apple's planned change is likely to push mobile marketers to find other ways to track audiences and measure the effectiveness of their advertising campaigns. Seventy-one percent of marketers said they trust probabilistic data for audience targeting while 70% trust it for measurement and attribution, per AppsFlyer's survey.
Marketers are among the groups that are most concerned about Apple's planned changes to the privacy settings on its various devices including the iPhone, iPad and Apple TV, a sentiment AppsFlyer's survey reinforces. The analytics company's report signals that marketers will become more reliant on other methods to track audiences with many of Apple's users expected to opt out of sharing their device identifiers with app developers, website publishers and data brokers that depend on the information. Without more reliable audience data, marketers appear more likely to shift their media spending to other channels, hurting companies like publishers and game developers that sell advertising.
While the change to its tracking technology wasn't completely unexpected, Apple still caused a stir at its annual WWDC event for developers last summer when it announced plans require apps to seek opt-in consent from device users to access the Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA), a randomly generated code that the company assigns to devices. The IDFA helps marketers to track the online activities of consumers and improve their ad targeting.
Apple had planned to implement the changes in September with the release of iOS 14, iPadOS 14 and tvOS 14 that run its various devices. However, the company delayed the move amid mounting criticism from companies that expressed alarm about the potential harm to buyers and sellers of advertising. As one example, social media giant Facebook warned that Apple's updated privacy settings would cause a 50% drop in revenue for its Audience Network that lets developers use Facebook's detailed consumer data for in-app ad targeting.
Since then, the complaints about Apple have become even more pronounced, with advertising companies and publishers in France this week filing a complaint with the country's competition authority against the iPhone maker. The Interactive Advertising Bureau France, one of two trade groups that filed the complaint, argued that few users of Apple's products will consent to be tracked. Their concerns reflect the findings of consumer surveys, including a study by Tap Research that found 85% of consumers would opt out of tracking, making Apple's device identifiers effectively useless.
It remains to be seen whether Apple will consider delaying the update to its privacy settings again to give advertisers and publishers more time to develop alternative tracking methods.