Facebook worries about what iOS 14’s user-tracking alerts will mean for digital ads

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Facebook owns 4 of the top 10 apps of the past decade
iOS 14 could be bad news for companies that rely on digital ads.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Facebook is concerned that one of the big new features in iOS 14 will hurt the social networking giant’s ad-targeting business model.

As reported by CNBC, Facebook CFO David Wehner said Thursday that Apple’s new feature for the upcoming operating system, which allows users to see how activity is being tracked across apps and websites, will make things tough on Facebook ads.

The impact on Facebook ads

“We’re still trying to understand what these changes will look like and how they will impact us and the rest of the industry, but at the very least, it’s going to make it harder for app developers and others to grow using ads on Facebook and elsewhere,” Wehner said.

The change is likely to “start impacting Facebook’s advertising in the third quarter but it will have a more pronounced effect in the fourth quarter,” he said.

Wehner also said the change could hurt small businesses. “Our view is that Facebook and targeted ads are a lifeline for small businesses, especially in the time of Covid,” he said. “We are concerned that aggressive platform policies will cut at that lifeline at a time when it is so essential to small business growth and recovery.”

iOS 14’s anti-user-tracking  alerts

Apple announced its new anti-tracking feature at this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference. The new privacy tools for iOS and iPadOS will give users better control over apps that track them. Once iOS 14 rolls out this fall, apps will need to ask permission (via pop-up messages) to track users. This should reveal to users what type of data different apps collect.

This isn’t the first time advertising platforms and bodies have kicked back at Apple’s new feature. In early July, a group of digital advertising companies complained that this will carry a “high risk of user refusal.” AdAge  described Apple’s privacy-oriented change as a “tectonic shift for the digital ad industry.