Apple is tearing up the fabric of ad targeting on iOS devices in pursuit of consumer privacy enhancement – but a majority of marketers are scratching their heads and may move from iPhone to Android.

That is according to a man who represents more than 800 leading brands on the topic of mobile marketing.

Apple is due to change its Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA), which advertisers use to identify iOS devices so they can deliver customized advertising, to a default opt-in. One Forrester analyst expects 70% of iPhone users may decide not to opt in.

In this interview with Beet.TV, Greg Stuart, CEO of the  MMA trade groupw, says a study commissioned on the topic by his association paints a stark picture.

Negative impact

Stuart revealed findings from the survey:

  • “A third of marketers said they have high familiarity, a third said they sort of know it, and a third said they really don’t have any idea what the hell’s going on.”
  • “A little over half, about 55%, of marketers said that they do really expect this to affect their capabilities.”
  • “Of those who said they have high familiarity with IDFA, almost 80% of them said they think it’s going to have a really negative impact. So those who know are most concerned.”

Grasping at straws

So, what does it all add up to?

“Basically, we found it’s just a significant amount of confusion in the marketplace,” Stuart worries. “It means they’re kind of grasping at straws.”

Stuart is concerned that minimal opt-in to IDFA will leave advertisers struggling to piece together parts of a user’s identity and, therefore, to attribute outcomes back to ad exposures.

“I think there’s going to be a big effect against attribution,” he says. “The ability not to go to look at across site.”

Stuart says marketers have faced challenges to accepted technology norms in the past, of course. But he isn’t brushing aside marketers’ fears this time.

“My guess is they’re going to start shifting funding away from iOS, they’re going to move to more Android if they open that up,” he thinks.

“(That is) assuming Google doesn’t make the same change, which is at risk, or they’re going to move to connected TV.”

War of the giants

Ultimately, Stuart is essentially putting Apple on notice to change, suggesting that spend lost from mobile could go to an emerging medium – connected TV.

“If I were the TV guys, I would be all over this,” he says. “The nice thing about the TV sector is that it tends to be controlled by people who respect advertising – not like Apple who really doesn’t care about advertising as a business.”

He thinks the whole IDFA change is actually collateral damage in a war of tech giants.

“My suspicion – at some level, this is an opportunity for Silicon boys to fight against each other and Apple to try to take a shot at Zuckerberg and Facebook, quite honestly,” Stuart says.

“It can’t be in their interest to lower the economic value for developers by taking away this opportunity. So my guess is they’re just using it as political leverage in order to both make themselves look good, they’ll bolster their business, and it’ll probably appeal to some number of consumers who maybe really care.

“But we know from research that most consumers don’t necessarily care about privacy or not so much that they’ll take the change in action.”

The IDFA change, like ongoing third-party cookie deprecation, follows earlier legislation which now requires explicit opt-in consent from consumers for data collection and processing.

This video is part of Advertising in a Time of Privacy-Centricity, a Beet.TV series presented by AppsFlyer. For more videos from the series, please visit this page.