A monorail train with Google signage drives past a billboard promoting the safety of the Apple iPhone during the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, on Monday, January 7, 2019.
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The long-awaited data protection update for Apple’s iPhone and iPad operating systems, which could dramatically affect mobile advertising, will come in “early spring,” Apple told CNBC on Wednesday.
Currently, to target cell phone ads and measure how effective they are, app developers and other industry players often use Apple’s (IDFA), or a series of letters and numbers that is different on each Apple device. As soon as this update is available, app makers will have to ask for permission via a command prompt to access a user’s IDFA. A significant proportion of users are expected to say no, which reduces the effectiveness of targeted ads.
Apple first announced the change last summer, giving advertisers and app makers plenty of time to prepare. However, this has become a major point of contention for ad-supported businesses that could lose revenue from the change.
Facebook, in particular, argues that the change will affect the availability of free content on the open web and the ability of small businesses to serve personalized ads. On Facebook’s fourth quarter 2020 earnings call on Wednesday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg slammed the change, citing Apple as one of its biggest competitors and claiming the change “threatens the personalized ads that millions of small businesses rely on to find and find customers to reach”.
The timing of the Apple change has been the subject of intense speculation in the wireless industry. Apple CEO Tim Cook will speak about data protection on Thursday at the computer, data protection and data protection conference in Brussels. The company also released new marketing collateral on Thursday, including an update to its website and a data usage report, to illustrate how companies track user data across websites and apps.
Apple told CNBC that for the next beta version of iOS, app developers will have to ask permission to access the phone’s unique identifier.
The current version of iOS is 14.4, which was released earlier this week. There is currently no public beta available to developers. Apple declined to provide additional timing details.
As companies prepare for the change, they are communicating to partners and advertisers how they plan to approach the change. Google on Wednesday said in a post that it no longer uses information that falls under Apple’s AppTrackingTransparency framework for its iOS apps and does not plan to display the prompt for those apps.
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