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Apple is postponing the privacy feature to opt out of ad tracking until 2021

Apple postpones the launch of a proposed privacy adjustment in iOS 14 that allows users to opt out of ad tracking until early next year.

In a statement shared with TechCrunch and The Information, the iPhone maker said it was doing so “to give developers the time they need to make the necessary changes.”

The exact date when the policy will be enforced is expected to be announced later.

iOS 14, due in a couple of weeks, is ready to make device identifiers (called IDFA or “Identifier for Advertisers”

😉 – a distinct, randomly generated code assigned to each iPhone and iPad – obsolete by requiring third-party apps to seek explicit consent from users before using the unique IDs to track their activities across other apps and websites.

But the privacy-focused feature has been criticized by advertising companies as saying that the move will make it more difficult to deliver targeted ads to users.

Last week, Facebook warned publishers that the change would make Audience Network, the social media platform’s advertising service offered by third-party apps, ineffective and result in a loss of advertising revenue.

The company claimed that blocking ad customization would reduce revenue from the target network by half or more, and that it would hurt more than 19,000 developers working with Facebook, many of whom are “small businesses that rely on ads to support their livelihoods.” “

Tracking through the Apple Device Identifier enables Facebook and other third-party apps to link an ad campaign to, for example, an app download from an ad placed in their apps, thus allowing advertisers to target users with content-relevant ads.

Although IDFA can be reset manually – Firefox owner Mozilla specifically launched a petition last year urging Apple to reset this identifier automatically every month – the ability to opt out of ad tracking and give users more control over third-party apps. is undoubtedly a huge privacy upgrade.

Say hello to Apple’s privacy advertising tool

Apple’s decision to place ad tracking behind an opt-in barrier is easily the most aggressive change yet, but it’s bad news for advertisers, who trust IDFA to collect user data to deliver better ads and track whether users interact with the ads . they meet.

Instead, Apple intends to switch to an alternative ad metering system, called SKAdNetwork, which uses a privacy-safe advertising attribute to let advertisers know which ad campaigns worked without giving them access to detailed data or giving away a user’s IDFA.

At the same time, the impediment to the ability to show personalized ads in the app to iPhone users has raised concerns that the move will give preference to Apple, whose advertising tools will be turned on by default, thus potentially giving it a “platform-level advantage over competitors. . ”

It’s worth noting that Apple is not yet a major competitor in online advertising, such as Facebook or Google (or even Amazon), but it does show personalized ads in the App Store and Apple News based on users’ online activities across the board. of their own apps. .

But the fact that Apple’s ad customization is enabled by default in iOS 14, while forcing others to ask permission from users, is a sign that further restricts other players from operating on the platform, unless they choose to give in to their rules. .

“Apple retains benefits that other ecosystem players cannot, simply because Apple owns the iOS platform,” John Koetsier told Forbes last month. “Everyone else needs permission to allow tracking, but Apple retains access to more data.”

There is no doubt about the confidentiality benefits of the change, but it also ignores Apple’s efforts to target users with its own advertising using data collected from users’ devices.

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