Online advertising is about to change – are you ready for a new kind of internet? Competing visions between Apple and Facebook mean we all need to ready ourselves for a slew of changes which will influence how we interact with content and primarily advertising online.
Apple has made it’s position clear. According to Tim Cook – tracking is bad, and privacy is not only important but central to how Apple makes decisions.
A good example would be Apple’s ‘Sign In with Apple’. Signing up to any web service using this functionality, means you have the option to withhold your email address thereby providing the user with some control over the data they share with that web service.
“We don’t think you should ever have to trade it [your personal data] for a service you think is free but actually comes at a very high cost. This is especially true now that we’re storing data about our health, our finances, and our homes on our devices.” –Kapersky
… but ‘Sign In with Apple’ was 2019’s news.
Early in 2021, Apple plans to go further by enabling functionality already baked into iOS which notifies users when an app is attempting to access the users personal data.
Whilst this functionality doesn’t proclaim to target Facebook explicitly, Facebook would undoubtedly be materially impacted as the company requires significant amounts of users data in order to enable personalised advertising.
In January 2019, Apple stated that there were 1.4 billion active iOS devices in the world. That’s a huge install base. Facebook, suspect that when prompted, users would choose to disable the tracking which would thereby inhibit their ability to serve personalised advertising.
Consequently back in December of 2020, Facebook made a bold counterpoint by taking out full page ads in some of the most prominent newspapers in America to make their case. According to Facebook, small businesses around the world rely on their powerful targeting systems to advertise their products and services.
Facebook state that Apple’s position is not so much pro-privacy but rather anti small-business. Mark Zuckerberg and his team would be right to point out that millions of businesses around the world rely on Facebook advertising to reach their audience and have launched a website Speak Up For Small Business where they go into more details about the consequences of embracing Apple’s vision of internet privacy.
Whilst Apple haven’t directly responded to Facebook assertions, as part of iOS 14.3 they have launched what Apple compare to ‘nutritional labels’ for apps. Located within the AppStore, these labels lay bare the resources apps might access as a means of informing the user of how their data might be used.
How will this effect my business?
These are uncertain times in the advertising industry. Facebook seems to be fighting a war on two-fronts. Not only is it grappling with Apple on the topic of user data and privacy but it has also recently been sued by the FTC over anticompetitive practices.
Whilst nothing is going to change quickly, the FTC is pursuing a divestiture of both Instagram and WhatsApp. Given that the FTC approved these acquisitions, it is not clear how this situation will play out or what the outcome of this action will be.
Whilst Apple have taken a clear position on privacy, Facebook in response claim that small business is under attack from these measures. Rather than taking a view that this is Apple vs Small Business, it is probably more objective to view it in the context of Privacy vs Relevance.
Most users have grown so accustomed to tailored advertising on the web, they may well decide that they are prepared to accept some form of tracking in order to see ads they are interested in.
In fact many Gen Y users will know nothing beyond personalised advertising and will likely get infuriated by exposure to irrelevant commercials.
Ultimately competition in the feed will be just as fierce as it has always been. Brands have forever had to reconsider what their competition is on the likes of Facebook. Creativity will remain an important currency in the effectiveness of your ads. The new landscape doesn’t mean targeted advertising will go away; removing them entirely risks doing more damage than good.
What do you think? Would you prefer more generic ads whilst maintaining your privacy or do you think Apple are being overbearing in taking this approach. For me, this is one of those situations where I can really see both sides of the argument.
To my mind, the important thing is choice. The user should be given the option to accept tracking or not; it shouldn’t be foisted upon them. For the brand itself, it’s vital to embrace creative storytelling. It’s been some tough times recently and as a consequence we need to be entertained. A smile can go a long way in making your brand more sticky.