Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Facebook SDK Will Not Adopt Apple’s iOS 14 Privacy Prompt

Juli Clover (also: Hacker News):

Facebook today warned advertisers that Apple’s upcoming anti-tracking tools could cause a more than 50 percent drop in Audience Network publisher revenue due to the removal of personalization from ads within apps.


In a blog post, Facebook said that it does not collect the identifier from advertisers (IDFA) from Facebook-owned apps on iOS 14 devices, as Apple added a feature that requires users to agree to ad tracking to prevent cross-app and cross-site tracking used to provide targeted ads.

Ryan Jones:

Just what Apple needed, another high-stakes game of chicken.


Per the rules any sort of tracking and sharing back to other sites requires the prompt (sometimes called fingerprinting, but now that it’s called that they will stop calling it that)


I understand why everyone’s instant reaction might be “good,” but if you are in the business of making an app, you will eventually need to get users for your app. Advertising is how that happens. That’s because app store discovery was nerfed years ago, to make store search ads a revenue source. This Apple IDFA change will likely force you to redirect your ad spend from the Facebook Audience Network to Apple search ads.


I hope you realize what this means is that ads as a monetization model for apps is getting decimated. These apps will now have to explore alternate monetization models such as either making themselves paid or subscriptions. And guess what, Apple takes a 30% cut of it.

It’s a win-win-win for Apple, which in a single stroke can protect your privacy, hurt their competitor, and get more ad and fee revenue. It’s not unlike how iOS’s Web browser restrictions can potentially offer security benefits but also encourage the flow of search placement revenue from Google and slow adoption of features that help Web apps compete with native ones.


Update (2020-08-27): Oluseyi Sonaiya:

Prior to the new OS, advertisers went to Facebook, who then fulfilled ad inventory on its own apps as well as others’. With the new OS, Facebook is having difficulty fulfilling inventory on others’, which I guess hurts other apps wholly dependent on Facebook?

So the best bang for your buck is still Facebook, changing little for the advertisers. It only hurts other publishers, if Facebook’s claim is taken at face value.

Plus anyone buying ads.

Update (2020-09-07): Apple (via Mark Gurman, Hacker News):

We are committed to ensuring users can choose whether or not they allow an app to track them. To give developers time to make necessary changes, apps will be required to obtain permission to track users starting early next year. More information, including an update to the App Store Review Guidelines, will follow this fall.

David Barnard:

Apps being able to do cost-effective marketing ultimately benefits everyone involved: consumers, Apple, developers, ad networks, and even the thousands of growth/ad tech/infrastructure companies (including @RevenueCat) that help facilitate that marketing.


Apple’s intent with the IDFA was to help facilitate that marketing measurement, but it quickly devolved into a tool for privacy invasion.


Killing the IDFA (by making it opt-in instead of opt-out) is absolutely the right thing for Apple to do. Apple is hitting the reset button on the tradeoff between privacy invasion and the beneficial aspects of being able to granularly measure marketing spend.

SKAdNetwork is the new IDFA — it’s Apple’s attempt to facilitate cost-effective marketing on their platform. And I’m personally quite excited about SKAdNetwork. I’ve been hesitant to advertise my apps because I didn’t want to participate in the “data industrial complex”.

But SKAdNetwork is just not ready for prime time. And the current mobile ad ecosystem just isn’t able to absorb this big of a change this quickly, as was evidenced by Facebook’s hint that it would have to completely abandon the Facebook Audience Network on iOS.

Apple delaying the privacy rules (if they do it) isn’t an admission that App Store profit is more important than user privacy, it’s an admission that ushering in a new privacy-friendly mobile marketing paradigm is too important to rush out half-baked.

Update (2020-09-18): George Deglin:

A feature in iOS that led to a vast ecosystem of advertising-supported apps is going away. Here’s what advertisers, developers, and consumers can expect over the coming months.

3 Comments RSS · Twitter

Facebook. Another greedy bastard that does not take the needs of customers into account. We're just mindless idiots pushing the buttons we are served racking up money for Zucky. All while they are complicit in inciting violence.

I hope you realize what this means is that ads as a monetization model for apps is getting decimated.

Only if we accept two premises: that all ads now are privacy-threatening targeted ads, and that customers will only consume targeted ads if they’re living in the pretense that they’re not a privacy threat.

If your business model hinges that heavily on something you don’t want your customer to know, maybe Apple isn’t the first entity you should be blaming.

Regular ol’ ads exist. And yes, direct payment models also exist, and in recent years, the media have found some success with them again.

The more I read about these “privacy moves” by Apple the more I don’t care. Why? Because Tim Apple is protecting Tim Apple interests. “User privacy” (but not from Apple itself) is pretty much zero sum.

Apple has demonstrated repeatedly that like Facebook, even though devs and users pay, we’re all also just “product” to them.

If Apple doesn’t care, why should Facebook? Like Japanese developers “taking the side of Epic” they’re stating the obvious, that Tim Apple and his APIs are too much of a PITA and directly hurt their business.

I don’t even like Facebook but I see their point. Sören: 3rd premise: nobody likes intrusive ads, most of this is overblown, but Apple exerts too much control, and maybe deserves all the blame since they insist on all the control for their own benefit.

“Let them fight.”

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