Apple’s privacy features are striking Facebook right where it matters—its ad business. The impact of the iPhone maker’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) features are becoming clear, with Facebook already admitting it is less effectively able to measure ad campaigns.
Facebook is still warning its advertisers of tough times ahead, because when Apple users say no to tracking on their iPhones it effectively spells the end of the IDFA (identifier for advertisers). Without this unique ID code, it’s difficult to track Apple users who might, for example, click on an ad then Google the company and buy an item via their browser.
Complaints aren’t just coming from Facebook—other brands confirm Apple’s ATT anti-tracking features continue to cause problems, and they have to spend more to get the most out of their advertising dollar, according to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal.
There’s no doubt times are hard for Facebook, which is also suffering criticism from employees, the media and regulators. But the actual figures for the social network’s advertisers may start to look better after a change it says will help to target users who are on both Instagram and Facebook.
In the past, Facebook would treat people who are on both Instagram and Facebook but haven’t linked the accounts as one person. So, if someone used the same email address across their Facebook and Instagram accounts or accessed both platforms from the same device, Facebook counted them as one person when they interacted with ads. Now, the social media giant says, it will treat these users as two completely different people.
Faceook said earlier this month in a blog post:
“If someone does not have their Facebook and Instagram accounts linked in Accounts Center, we will consider those accounts as separate people for ads planning and measurement. Facebook and Instagram accounts that are connected in Accounts Center will continue to be counted collectively as a single person.”
The move could certainly change the optics for Facebook’s advertisers, but the end results will be the same.
It comes as the Facebook Apple privacy battle continues to ramp up. The two have been at loggerheads for years, with Apple continuously releasing new iPhone features to hurt the social network’s data hungry model.
It started with iOS 13, with more privacy features added in iOS 14 including iOS 14.5’s long awaited ATT feature. The September launch of iOS 15 raises the stakes even higher with soon to launch features such as Privacy Reports and Private Relay which masks your IP address from advertisers.
At the same time, Apple apparently has its own aims to become a bigger player in digital advertising. In fact, a report in the Financial Times describes how Apple’s own advertising business has enjoyed a windfall since its privacy changes came in.
However, analyst Eric Benjamin Seufert points out that although it does seem Apple ad revenue has increased since ATT launched, the figures cited cover mobile app install ads spending and not mobile web ads spending. He also pointed out that the data covers non-gaming apps only.
Even so, there’s no doubt about it—the Apple Facebook battle isn’t about to end any time soon. For now, one thing seems fairly clear: Apple is winning in the privacy stakes.