Apple’s new anti-tracking tools on iOS 14 will render Facebook’s Audience Network ineffective, causing a significant drop in publisher revenue.
Facebook is warning developers and advertising community that the upcoming iOS update will harm the targeted advertising businesses tremendously. Reportedly, iOS 14 will enable privacy changes that will make it impossible to track users’ activities on the internet and the app ecosystem, preventing Facebook from serving them targeted ads.
The new OS update will place more restrictions on user data. It will impact the social network’s Audience Network service that lets advertisers target users even when they are using non-Facebook applications. While Facebook did not reveal how much this new version of iOS will affect its business, it did mention that removing personalization will cause a 50% drop in Audience Network revenues.
It is worth noting that iOS beta has already impressed users by displaying which app does what on their device. For example, last month users were alerted how LinkedIn was copying every keystroke of users and how Instagram opened iPhone’s camera even when users scrolled photo feed.
Now, according to Facebook, iOS 14 will make user permission for tracking ads necessary for preventing cross-site and cross-app tracking, which is vital for targeted advertising. Due to this, Facebook will not be able to collect the Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) from Facebook-owned applications on devices running iOS14.
See: Facebook exposed user data to thousands of app developers
Apple devices previously offered an IDFA that was used by Facebook and its advertising partners for displaying targeted ads. However, iOS 14 will make IDFA an optional feature. In a blog post, Facebook said that:
For developers and publishers using Audience Network, our ability to deliver targeted ads on iOS 14 will be limited. As a result, some iOS 14 users may not see any ads from Audience Network, while others may still see ads from us, but they’ll be less relevant.
Apple claims that this feature is introduced to offer users more transparency and allow them to choose whether they want their online activities to be tracked or not. The tracking section in the Privacy menu of the iOS 14 will let users disable the tracking option for apps altogether.
Even if this feature is enabled, apps will require user permission for tracking users across non-Facebook apps and websites. Hence, it will be a big blow for companies that thrive on targeted advertising.
Facebook states that Apple has forced it to make the new changes, which will ‘severely impact’ the monetization capabilities of over 19,000 developers and publishers, who mostly rely on Audience Network.
Those on iOS 14 will not receive ads from the Audience Network Program while other iOS users will receive considerably less targeted ads, so publishers will have to rely on lower CPMs. The extent of damage would be so severe that Facebook may not even offer it on the iOS platform in the future.
This is not a change we want to make, but unfortunately, Apple’s updates to iOS14 have forced this decision. We know this may severely impact publishers’ ability to monetize through Audience Network on iOS 14, and, despite our best efforts, may render Audience Network so ineffective on iOS 14 that it may not make sense to offer it on iOS 14 in the future, said Facebook.
The new version of iOS 14 will be released this fall. It promises many consumer-friendly features, such as app developers will now have to notify users if their apps are collecting IDFA. IDFA is a unique device code randomly generated by Apple for a device.
See: Personal data of 12 million Facebook users exposed online
Apps use these codes to track user activity, and Facebook and advertisers use this cross-app data to display targeted apps on other apps. Many of the Facebook apps on the iOS platform, including Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger, etc., won’t be able to collect IDFA.
Apple is yet to comment on Facebook’s warning.
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