Facebook has responded to Apple’s plans for its forthcoming iOS 14 operating system, that will give iPhone app users the option to decline ad tracking.
With iOS 14 expected to arrive in approximately three weeks, Apple will require apps to seek additional permission from users before tracking them across other apps and websites.
And this development has not gone down well with advertisers. In July a group of European digital advertising associations criticised Apple for not adhering to an ad-industry system for seeking user consent under European privacy rules.
And now Facebook has entered the fray, and in a blog post warned that while Apple’s new privacy rules will spare its own apps, including WhatsApp and Instagram, it will impact smaller developers.
Facebook said Apple’s change could hurt smaller developers that use a Facebook tool – called Facebook Audience Network – which small developers use in their apps to serve adverts from third parties.
“We expect these changes will disproportionately affect Audience Network given its heavy dependence on app advertising,” Facebook warned. “Like all ad networks on iOS 14, advertiser ability to accurately target and measure their campaigns on Audience Network will be impacted, and as a result publishers should expect their ability to effectively monetise on Audience Network to decrease.”
Facebook said it may even consider scrapping Facebook Audience Network for iOS altogether.
“Ultimately, despite our best efforts, Apple’s updates may render Audience Network so ineffective on iOS 14 that it may not make sense to offer it on iOS 14,” it warned. “We expect less impact to our own advertising business, and we’re committed to supporting advertisers and publishers through these updates.”
Facebook said Apple’s changes will “have a far-reaching impact on the developer ecosystem.”
This is because Facebook collects data about users from the apps where it serves those ads, which it then uses to feed into highly tailored advertising targeting throughout its business.
Facebook Audience Network is thought to be an important source of revenue and traffic to small developers such as gaming companies.
Advertising associations are very concerned at the change and argue that Apple’s stance means that apps will now need to ask for permission twice, increasing the risk users will refuse.
Apple had revealed at its annual World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June, that app developers would now need to provide more information about the data they collect on users, with Apple displaying a summary of how apps use data such as location or tracking information.
Essentially, apps will be required to show a pop-up screen before they enable a form of tracking commonly needed to show personalised ads.
It should be remembered that Facebook and Google are two of the biggest players that track online consumers to pick up on their habits and interests, and serve them relevant ads.
Apple said that the new feature was aimed at giving users greater transparency over how their information is being used.