Digital ad agencies aren’t happy about Apple’s new user-tracking notifications

By

privacy WWDC
Privacy was a big theme at WWDC.
Photo: Apple

A group of digital advertising associations in Europe have taken issue with Apple’s plan to offer users notifications on which apps track them to offer personalized ads.

At WWDC 2020, Apple announced new tools for iOS and iPadOS that let users better control which apps track them by asking for permission in the form of pop-up messages. The next versions of the iPhone and iPad operating systems will reveal to users what type of data different apps collect. But the digital advertising companies say that this could carry a “high risk of user refusal.”

According to a Reuters report, published Friday, the 16 marketing associations — which aren’t named in the article — say Apple is not “adhering to an ad-industry system for seeking user consent under European privacy” rules.

The digital ad agencies claim that the message and its lack of customization could hurt users’ willingness to approve it. They also say that the rules will mean that apps need to ask user permission twice in some contexts.

Google and Facebook reportedly back the digital advertising associations in question. However, the report does not detail exactly how.

Digital ad notifications: Taking on a popular Silicon Valley business model

A backlash against the new privacy-oriented feature is to be expected. Apple has increasingly distanced itself from the ad-focused business model used by companies like Google and Facebook. Tim Cook memorably said that, where users weren’t paying for a product, they are the product. By this he meant that ostensibly free services monetize users in other ways. Apple does not do this, and has been able to push privacy as a unique selling point as a result. Other companies have criticized Apple for selling privacy as a luxury.

AdAge recently described Apple’s privacy-oriented change as a “tectonic shift” for the digital ad industry.

What do you think of Apple’s new privacy-focused feature? Do you think this will hurt advertising on digital platforms? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.