App Tracking Transparency makes Chinese tech giant Alibaba worry

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Alibaba
Alibaba is a giant in the world of e-commerce.
Photo: Markus Winkler/Unsplash CC

It’s not just U.S. tech giants that fear iOS 14.5’s new App Tracking Transparency feature. Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, with a market cap of $646.84 billion, is supposedly very worried, just like Facebook.

A report from The Information says Alibaba invited half a dozen marketing execs to its Hangzhou headquarters to discuss how to react to the new feature, which stops apps from tracking users across websites and third-party apps.

The report says no consensus has yet been reached. However, Apple’s new privacy measure — introduced this week with iOS 14.5 — remains a big concern for the Chinese companies. Around 40% of Alibaba’s revenue currently comes from advertising. And since China has upward of 300 million iPhone users, App Tracking Transparency could put a dent in Alibaba’s future success.

Facebook already objected in strong terms to App Tracking Transparency. Alibaba is a similarly massive cultural force in China. With its three biggest sites — Taobao, Tmall and Alibaba.com — it handles more business than any other e-commerce company in the world.

Alibaba founder Jack Ma remains one of China’s best-known entrepreneurs. Rebecca Fannin, author of Silicon Dragon: How China Is Winning the Tech Race , even referred to Ma as the Steve Jobs of China. “No other Chinese entrepreneur has the Jobs-like star quality, strategic vision and flair for promotion that Ma does,” according to Fannin.

Getting around App Tracking Transparency Feature

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard rumblings about the response to App Tracking Transparency in China. The country’s state-backed China Advertising Association is reportedly looking for ways to get around the controversial new feature. The organization’s approach reportedly involves something called a CAID, which supposedly can act as an alternative to the iPhone’s IDFA for tracking users. Apple, for its part, has been clear that the new rules apply equally to everyone.

Source: The Information (paywall)