Written by Shai Alfandary, General Manager of Paragone.ai

While people continue to spend more time online, privacy concerns are at the top of everyone’s agenda across newsrooms and boardrooms, as well as government offices. Some in big tech remain seemingly tone-deaf to the growing frustration, but others are making privacy their top priority. Apple has positioned itself as leading the pack of the latter with its latest update, IOS 14, that aims to improve data privacy for users. Improvements like Apple’s represent a leap forward for consumers, but advertisers will need to find new ways to collect data to keep ads relevant and personalized.

What is the update?

There are 1.65 billion Apple devices worldwide and 1.4 billion of them are iPhones, nearly 80 percent of which have updated their phone to run IOS 14. The update gives users more control and transparency over what elements of their data is shared, changing privacy standards globally. Now, the app will notify users when it wants to track usage across platforms or websites owned by other companies for advertising. Users will also be notified when an app wants to share information with data brokers.

As people become increasingly conscious of their data privacy, some remain convinced their technology is actively syphoning personal conversations. Now, Apple has added an indicator on the home screen to let users know when the camera or microphone on the device is active. A green dot for the camera, and a red or orange dot for the microphone, now show up on the top right-hand corner of the screen when either feature is in use.

The last app to use either feature will appear at the top of the device, when pulling down the widget bar. This update essentially helps inform users if a background app is able to access and record conversations without their knowledge.

So what happens now? Every iPhone and iPad uses unique identifiers, called IDFA, and companies like Facebook that sell mobile advertisements can use the ID to target ads and make sure relevant ones are finding the right consumer. With less cross-app and web tracking, the targeting is worse, advertisers aren’t as satisfied with the campaigns, and subsequently enjoy less profits.

As so many are turning off their data sharing features, Facebook began showing its own prompt to explain to users why it wants to track activity. The social media mogul has recently claimed if users choose to not share their personal data, the company will honor that request. However, some might argue Facebook doesn’t have the best track record of data privacy and many consumers are concerned that the site will continue harvesting data under the radar.

How can advertisers still target their key demographic?

It didn’t take long for Apple’s rivals to attack the tech hegemon after the announcement—accusing the company of changing privacy features to bolster its own self-interest. Many believe Apple is looking to acquire a larger share of the advertising market—as the company can save the majority of the data without having to share it with other corporations based on the new data privacy regulations.

Apple is trying to push these free apps to move to subscription models. Non-subscription applications rely on cross-platform user data to target the right consumer. As they lose data, it’s much harder to target the right audience. If a company moves to a subscription plan, the consumer will need to pay for the app. When an app becomes a subscription, the company can rely less on ads to support the app, and Apple gets about a 30 percent cut, but this figure may change.

It’s not just the publishers who are concerned about the new privacy settings—small business owners are anxious too. Many of them say they began advertising with Facebook and because of personalization, their business has grown exponentially. So how can advertisers and publishers work together to fight back against a decrease in in-app tracking?

Firstly, it’s imperative that both have multiple data sources. Advertisers should be gathering data from various avenues—not just Facebook or Google. Once a company receives data from multiple websites, they will have an easier time tracking different points of interest. Other tech giants, such as Google, are also adding new features to try and help publishers prepare for the blowback of the new IOS update. Google, for example, updated its Google Analytics for Firebase by adding new features like the SKADNetwork support to help advertisers accurately measure campaign performance.

While using Google Analytics or another Customer Data Platform (CDP)  advertisers can set up the system in two different ways. Users can use a “precise” set up or use their own data storage. If the platform is set up for the advertisers own storage, it’s the “source of truth” which will be a must-have for budding advertisers in the coming years.

As privacy continues to dominate public discourse on big tech, advertisers and publishers alike need to adjust their strategies. But this idea of privacy could be deemed as ironically hypocritical, as these same consumers tend to only want advertisements that are personalized towards them. Most don’t realize that in order to have these personalized advertisements, the advertisers need the consumers internet footprint. The new IOS update is another hurdle that advertisers will have to face, but in time, everyone will need to adjust by finding new means of collecting user data.