Expected blow for advertising industry, as new figures show a clear majority of people refuse to allow iOS apps to gather tracking data
The 14.5 iOS update from Apple looks like it is the bad development, which the advertising industry had long feared.
New data from Verizon Media’s Flurry Analytics, shows an overwhelming majority of Apple iPone users who have updated to iOS 14.5, refuse to allow app to gather tracking data on their surfing habits.
Apple’s iOS 14.5 update landed last week, and its arrival was much anticipated by campaigners as a watershed moment for online privacy.
The latest iOS update requires iPhone apps to ask for permission to track a user’s activity online.
If an app is launched on a device running iOS 14.5, an “App Tracking Transparency” (ATT) label should display and ask the user whether they agree to let the app track them across other companies’ apps and websites.
Essentially, this ‘nutrition label’ will explain to the user just what the app will do with their personal data.
Consumers who opt-out of tracking will likely see fewer relevant adverts.
But this is a major concern for the mobile advertising industry, as well as companies such as Facebook, which could see advertising revenue decline as much as $3 billion annually.
Other firms are equally concerned. Earlier this month Snapchat acknowledged it was exploring ways to circumvent Apple’s ban on tracking iPhone users.
The advertising industry is also deeply concerned, and in July last year 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.
Opt out figures
And it seems Facebook and the advertising industry were right to be concerned according to the latest figures from Flurry Analytics.
Flurry Analytics gathered its data because it is used in over 1 million mobile applications, providing aggregated insights across 2 billion mobile devices per month.
Flurry has therefore determined only 5 percent of US daily users with iOS 14.5 have opted in so far, to allow their surfing to be tracking.
This means an overwhelming majority (95 to 96 percent) are opting to safeguard their privacy and not allowing online tracking.
There is better news worldwide for the advertising industry, with 12 to 13 percent of iPhone users allowing apps to track their online surfing.
Flurry reportedly has data on 5.3 million global iOS 14.5 users.
Privacy campaigners have hoped that the App Tracking Transparency (ATT) in iOS 14.5 could effectively end so-called identifier for advertisers (IDFA) for those in the Apple ecosystem at least.
This is a method used by apps to track a user on their iPhone across apps and services. Users are often tracked by apps and other online services, and the information gathered is often sold without a person’s knowledge.
IDFA for example is used by Facebook to track a user across other apps and websites they visit.
Apple had revealed the change of direction at its annual World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June 2020, when it warned that app developers would need to provide more information about the data they collect on users.
Essentially, apps will be required to show a pop-up screen before they enable a form of tracking commonly needed to show personalised ads.
Apple says the new feature is aimed at giving users greater transparency over how their information is being used.