Apple ended weeks of speculation today by announcing it will delay part of its iOS 14 rollout, which will begin later this month. Part of the update includes asking app developers to seek consent from users for third parties, aka app monetization partners, to access their data. Now, Apple says that new feature will be delayed until next year.
Apple announced privacy changes to its mobile operating system at its Worldwide Developers Conference earlier this year with app developers worrying the updates could upend the $45 billion iOS advertising economy.
Last week, Facebook said it was considering the fate of its Audience Network after concluding that Apple’s pending privacy overhaul “may not make sense to offer it on iOS 14.” The social network informed app developers to expect up to a 50% drop in revenue.
In a statement today, Apple said it is moving forward with the opt-in feature, but, “To give developers time to make necessary changes, apps will be required to obtain permission to track users starting early next year.”
Apple is typically not forthcoming in its communications with fellow industry players until it has arrived at a final decision, and formalized its communications policy. Although, rumors of an alteration to its previously intended timeline for dialing back IDFA-collection have been circulating in recent weeks (see image).
“No advertiser was ready for the September 15th deadline,” said Eric Seufert, an analyst and strategy consultant at Heracles Media. “This reprieve will allow advertisers to update their infrastructure in a way that doesn’t sacrifice the customer experience.”
Speaking with Adweek in the aftermath of last week’s revelation that Facebook was ceasing the collection of IDFA, Alex Austin, CEO of mobile measurement provider Brand Metrics, said Apple’s unilateral move has “gone too far” in disrupting the ad-funded ecosystem.
Many had been concerned that Apple’s global footprint meant the intended updates will require developers to seek consent from iPhone users to share their device IDs, aka IDFA, with third parties such as ad networks of measurement providers. This, in effect, will make IDFA an opt-in feature for users, and advertisers will no longer be able to target them by default, in a move that could be more impactful to the media industry than CCPA or GDPR.
In the wake of Apple’s WWDC announcements in June, several industry trade bodies, including the IAB Tech Lab and IAB Europe, penned an open letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook registering concerns that iOS 14’s opt-in features were not interoperable with the IAB’s Transparency Consent Framework, a consent management consensus its members arrived at in order to comply with GDPR.
“Part of the information requested by Apple can also be found in Consent Management Platforms (CMPs) that are already widely used in the application world in this [EU] region,” reads the joint statement.
“While abuse of the IDFA is problematic, and most advertisers agree that the IDFA needs to be excised from the mobile advertising landscape, doing so involves a tremendous effort on the part of advertisers that requires more than the three months initially allocated by Apple,” the statement reads.