Apple ios14.5 google facebook

iOS 14.5 – The Crippling Of Facebook And Google By Apple

Early this year, Apple announced that in iOS 14 or more specifically iOS 14.5, with a new feature called App Tracking Transparency, users will be able to block advertisers from identifying them via the IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers). iOS 14.5 spells the start of trouble for advertisers like Facebook and Google.

What Is IDFA?

Every iPhone and iPad is tagged with a unique number called the IDFA. The IDFA tied to your device is basically tied to you, the user. Every action performed on your phone has created a customer profile that is tied to you. IDFA allows apps to identify you to feed you personalized ads based on your profile.

Who is IDFA Good For?

Unless you love personalized ads that are shoved down your throat, the string of numbers benefits corporations at the expense of our privacy.

Advertising Platforms 

They want to profile us based on our actions and then sell that information to data brokers and corporations for them to advertise to us.

Corporations

These businesses want to craft personalized marketing messages to make us buy their stuff.

How Is IDFA Used?

Source: Wall Street Journal

This video by Wall Street Journal explains it quite well.

All the apps on your iOS devices have access to your IDFA. They break down the two main uses below.

Promotion On Advertising Platforms Like Google And Facebook

App A wants you to sign up for their service so they see if Facebook has the same IDFA in their system. App A would then be able to push a personalized ad onto your Facebook feed.

Ad Revenue For The App Itself

App A runs ads on its app to cover costs for its freemium model. Based on your profile tied to your IDFA, they will be able to send you personalized ads on the app.

Apple’s New Selling Point – Privacy

apple privacy

Source: Apple

If you have seen the ads, Apple has taken a tougher stance on privacy and made privacy a selling point of their devices. Apple has publicly announced that privacy is a fundamental human right and have taken steps across its multitude of devices regarding privacy.

Source: Apple

Source: Apple

Limiting tracking from ads is not new to iOS devices, but the option to do so was buried in the settings. Only about 20% of iOS users turned off tracking previously.

iOS 14.5 just allows users to block advertisers when they open the app for the first time. It is estimated that 96% of US Apple users have opted out of IDFA sharing after iOS 14.5 was released.

We are moving away from the days where you had to press agree to all terms and conditions before being able to use the app.

This is not to say Apple is all altruistic. They are not in the business of advertising but in the business of selling hardware. They have been fighting against consumers from fixing their phones at third party locations. This also indirectly incentivizes consumers to purchase new phones instead of trying to repair them.

What? We Will Still See Ads?

On browsers, you will be able to download adblockers and privacy browsers to block most if not all ads.

On mobile, applications and social media will still be able to place ads on their platform. For those that opt out of tracking, it means that the ads that they see will be generic and potentially irrelevant as they are now unable to identify you and your profile.

A Big Hit To Facebook And Google

facebook ad apple

Source: Facebook

Facebook ran an ad in Wall Street Journal at the end of 2020 to say that they are standing up for small businesses. They claim that it will hurt small businesses if they are unable to send personalized ads. If your business model does not work without infringing privacy, data exploitation and misleading users, too bad.

Facebook also indirectly threatened that Facebook and Instagram could become paid services if we don’t allow for tracking.

iOS 14.5 is just giving consumers the choice to choose whether they want to be tracked. It did not outrightly ban tracking.

Source: Twitter

The tweet is a 23-second video of the user scrolling down the list of data points Facebook is tracking from you. Here are some of the data points.

  • Name
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Physical address
  • Identifiers
  • Purchase history
  • Financial Information
  • Location
  • Contacts
  • User content
  • Photos
  • Videos
  • Audio
  • Search history
  • Browsing history
  • Product interaction
  • Health information

fb google revenue streams donut chart 2020

The move by Apple will hurt both giants but it will potentially hurt Facebook more. Facebook makes 98% of its total revenue on advertising while Google makes 80% from advertising. Google has a slightly more diversified revenue stream from non-advertising sources like Google Play, hardware and Google cloud.

Facebook could lose US$8 billion (9% of 2020’s revenue) and Google could lose US$17 billion (9% of 2020’s revenue) in revenue over the next 12 months respectively.

What Will Advertisers Do Next regarding iOS 14?

Advertisers will be scrambling to find new strategies to try to keep targeted advertising alive.

If they are now unable to track you via an IDFA, they might try to profile users based on the apps they use or the type of content they surf.

Ads will be evolving and we need to be very aware of the transformation of ads. Always remember to purchase based on need and not advertising.

Generic Profiling

We are moving towards traditional media advertising where advertisers place ads based on a generic profile. For example, for a meditation app, they are probably interested in yoga or reading books. The profile is not specific to the exact user, but they will have to take what they can.

Influencer Marketing

Advertisers can approach influencers that can appeal to their niche. Cosmetic companies can approach beauty influencers while finance companies can approach finance influencers.

Android Devices

Just like iOS devices have IDFA, Android devices have Google Advertising ID. The advertisers could focus on Android devices which have not been crippled yet.

What Should We Do To Stop Targeted Advertising?

Here are some things we can do to minimize the tracking done to stop targeted advertising.

  • Install ad blockers like uBlock Origin
  • Use the service on web browsers instead of using apps
  • Use encrypted apps like Telegram or Signal for chats
  • Download privacy browsers like Firefox and Brave
  • Don’t allow apps to track you if the option comes up
  • Stop sharing personal information online
  • Get off Facebook
  • VPN (if you can afford a good paid one)
  • Turn off ad personalization

Turning Off Personalized Ads

Here are the steps to limit ad personalization on the various platforms. The information below is accurate at the time of writing. Instructions might change as time goes by. Ads are a source of revenue for these platforms so they will not make it too easy for you to turn off ad personalization.

Google and Android

  1. Go to the Ad Settings page
  2. Turn off Ad Personalization

Apple

Besides the pop up that asks if you want to allow tracking, you perform the steps below to switch it off for all apps.

  1. Go to Settings > Privacy > Apple Advertising
  2. Go under Personalized Ads and turn it off

Facebook

Facebook is a beast in capturing all your actions over the internet. That is why there are multiple settings you need to switch off. They don’t make it easy for you to do so. The steps below are recommended to be done on a browser.

Facebook Ad Settings

Go to the ad settings tab and turn off the settings for personalized ads.

Past off-Facebook activity
  1. Click the arrow in the top right of Facebook.
  2. Select Settings & Privacy, then click Settings.
  3. Choose Your Facebook information in the left column, then click Off-Facebook activity.
  4. Click Clear history > Clear history.
Future off-Facebook activity
  1. Click the arrow in the top right of Facebook.
  2. Select Settings & Privacy, then click Settings.
  3. Choose Your Facebook information in the left column, then click Off-Facebook activity.
  4. Click More options > Manage future activity > Manage future activity.
  5. Click next to Future off-Facebook activity, then click Turn off to turn off your future off-Facebook activity.

Instagram

  1. Go to Settings > Ads > Ad Preferences > Data About Your Activity From Partners
  2. Toggle off for all settings

Twitter

  1. Go to Settings > Personalization and data
  2. Switch off the Personalize Ads settings

Reddit

  1. Go to Settings > User Settings > Privacy and Security
  2. Switch off all 6 data farming options

TL, DR

Apple is taking a tough stance on privacy and it is threatening Facebook and Google’s advertising business model. There is an estimated loss of US$25 billion between the two giants over the next 12 months. There are ways you can turn off settings for personalized ads for multiple platforms. You can also stop targeted advertising by using ad blockers, privacy browsers and other methods mentioned above. Since targeted advertising is crippled and will possibly be crippled even more in the future, advertising will evolve. Be aware of subliminal advertising like influencer marketing. Base your purchase decisions on your terms and don’t let corporations and advertisers influence your decisions.

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Check out my Breaking The Marketer’s Code series here.

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