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TIMO ZIMMERMANN

balancing software engineering & infosec

Apple delays Anti-Ad-Tracking feature

posted on Friday 11th of September 2020 in ,

One of the features I was looking forward to with iOS 14 was Apple taking a hard stance on ad targeting and enabling consumers to get some more control over what they will be exposed to and how their data will be handled. Sadly Apple will be delaying the feature. Ignoring the delay, this feature seems to work as advertised and I am really excited when it becomes available.

Facebook and other advertisers expect that customers will not want to share their IDFA’s for ad targeting purposes and will therefore decline consent for the ad blocking popups that Apple has implemented in ‌iOS 14‌.

It nearly is like people do not want to see targeted ads, have their data collected or be constantly be confronted with advertisement.

Mobile developers that spoke to The Information said that they’ve had little time to prepare for Apple’s change, which was announced in June alongside ‌iOS 14‌. Apple has also not provided a way for them to target ads without using the IDFA.

So the feature is indeed working as intended. This makes me even more sad that it is delayed. It looks like we finally have technical means to do something about the mess we are in. And the only parties profiting off of it are getting really nervous.

What is actually a bit stunning is the fact that advertisers act as they have a right to track people however they want and without consent. It speaks to the whole industry and how they perceive their target audience.

One thing I have often not seen being discussed are the long term implications of this. With ad revenue potentially dropping for all parties new monetization models are needed. Someone has to pay the bills and keep the lights on. Hopefully we go back to an old model, namely developers charging an appropriate amount of money. I am a bit worried that the same people celebrating the anti-ad-tracking feature are the same that believe apps can be developed sustainably for a one time $5 payment.

I could see a hybrid model work well. You either see targeted ads and are tracked across the app or a pay for a subscription. An appropriate one time payment might also work, but considering that the cost of software is not well understood right now this might turn out to not work that well. Find a model which gives people the choice how they want to pay. Including proper education what the implications of both payment options are.