SAN FRANCISCO – Apple has always tended to play by its own rules. That was the case when its first staff were toiling in a garage to build their first machines, and it is the case today when it is making profound changes to the fabric of advertising software.
Besides the deprecation of third-party browser cookies in Safari, the company also plans to make IDFA, its Identity For Advertisers toolset, opt-in only by iOS users.
That is going to come with significant repercussions for ad targeting, and some in the industry wish that Apple had been more consultative.
One of them is Jordan Mitchell, the SVP and head of consumer privacy, identity and data at IAB Tech Lab, the IAB off-shoot that aims to provide standards for the industry and has been working on its own Project Rearc to solve these challenges.
Set once, set open
“Unfortunately, they did not work with an open standard, they continue to do things in a way that is very proprietary,” Mitchell tells Beet.TV in this video interview. “We’re not so fond of that.
“We think that, in this important area of consumer privacy, it is critical that we all work together and support a predictable consumer experience.
“If consumers have to do things differently to manage their privacy settings in every different device, operating system, website, that is a bad experience for consumers.
“They should be able to set their preferences once, and have that apply across device, across channel.”
Now is NOT the time for continued proprietary, fragmented approaches for tracking that circumvents consumer transparency and choice, entrenches our industry deeper into the "addressability arms race", and puts app publishers in further violation of appstore terms. 1/2
— Jordan Mitchell (@kickstand) July 21, 2020
Funding for apps threatened
It’s not that Mitchell and IAB Tech Lab oppose Apple’s changes, per se. He says he “believes” in Apple’s aim to provide choice and notification to consumers.
But Mitchell argues the changes will ultimately hurt consumers.
“They’re doing this to protect consumers, but there is going to be great costs to consumers” he says. “Consumers will have fewer choices with apps … because there will be a tremendous decrease in the funding available to apps.
“The apps have to fund the development of their operations, and fund their innovation, and really to allow for wonderful consumer experiences. They have to still fund that somehow. They’ll respond with more ads, more asks to subscribe, more paywalls, more subscription walls, et cetera.”
Last month, a broad swathe of the ad industry formed a pressure group, Partnership for Responsible Addressable Media, to lobby Apple and Google for softer, more consensual changes.
Now Apple has delayed the IDFA changes, from the planned introduction of iOS 14 in September to early in 2021.
IDFA is just one of the profound changes happening to the fabric of ad targeting, alongside GDPR and CCPA legislation plus the deprecation of third-party cookies.
Although IAB Tech Lab’s Mitchell sees the IDFA changes as pushing the app publisher ecosystem toward paid content, for many premium publishers the wind has been blowing toward that business model int he last few years.
Even so, a huge proportion of the app ecosystem depends on advertising.
Google will ‘out-engineer’ Apple
Mitchell now expects Google to be a lot more consultative than Apple when it makes changes.
“Google responded with some engineering proposals that is an attempt to be much more advertiser-friendly,” he says. “Google is very advertising-friendly, as is Microsoft
“They’ll respond, we believe, with clever ways to focus on an open advertising ecosystem … hopefully, with a call for open standards and predictable experiences for consumers in this area.
“I think they’ll come together to out-engineer Apple. I think that they’ll really be thoughtful and throw a lot of engineering effort into how we move forward as an ecosystem in the right way, supporting consumers and advertising experiences for those consumers who choose advertising experiences over a paid content or services.”