In June 2020, Apple announced that updating iOS 14 to its mobile operating system would introduce a mechanism to allow users to disable in-app ad tracking by refusing to share the IDFA identifier with app developers. This feature, called App Tracking Transparency, has drawn the ire of advertising giants for the impact it would have on their business. Apple delayed applying the feature until 2021 to allow developers to adapt their apps. But as 2021 approaches, advertising giants like Facebook have again responded to Apple for the feature.
This policy update, along with the upcoming app tracking transparency feature, prompted Facebook to lash out at Apple with a series of full-page ads in major newspapers such as The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post ( through Bloomberg).
Facebook claims these changes in iOS will extend to small businesses, limiting their ability to serve personalized ads and reach their customers effectively. According to Facebook, small business advertisers could see a cut of over 60% in their sales for every dollar spent on ads as these ads would no longer be targeting the right customers.
Facebook also released a blog post on the matter, further claiming that the changes will force companies to turn to subscriptions and other in-app payments for revenue, some of which will then go to Apple (although smaller developers have had the their “Apple tax” Reduced to 15%). Additionally, Apple’s custom advertising platform is said to be exempt from the new iOS 14 policy changes. Facebook is also left with no choice but to show the necessary opt-out requests, although they strongly disagree with the changes in light. the impact it would have on the activities the company wants to support.
Facebook continues to lash out at Apple by claiming that it is acting anti-competitive by using its iron control of the App Store for the benefit of its own profits at the expense of app developers and small businesses. And for this reason, Facebook is also providing relevant information in the Apple vs Epic Games litigation regarding how Apple’s policies have negatively impacted Facebook and those using the social media giant’s services.
Apple responded to Facebook’s criticism, stating in a statement (via TheVerge) that’s it “defend our users“.
We believe this is a simple matter of defending our users. Users should know when their data is collected and shared between other apps and websites, and they should have the option to allow or not. App Tracking Transparency in iOS 14 doesn’t require Facebook to change its approach to tracking users and creating targeted advertising, it simply requires them to give users a choice.
Apple’s statement comes as Facebook rolled out a second ad (via TheVerge) entitled “Apple vs Free Internet“.
This new announcement states that Apple’s iOS 14 privacy changes “it will change the internet as we know it“And impose on websites and blogs”to start charging you for subscription fees“Or add in-app purchases due to a lack of personalized ads.
To add a little more context to Facebook’s PR campaign, here’s what the new App Store privacy section looks like for the official Facebook app:
Apple exposing all the ways Facebook tracks you with the iOS app is really something pic.twitter.com/hDhB85qk1L
– Tom Warren (@tomwarren) December 16, 2020
It remains to be seen how this war of words ends. It goes without saying that there is a lot of money up for grabs on both sides of the fence. Both companies would like you to believe that their cause is the most legitimate and just. But the truth is likely to be somewhere in between, closer to corporate ideals of profit.