Facebook warns developers that privacy changes in an upcoming iOS update will severely limit the ability to track user activity across the internet and app ecosystem and prevent the social media platform from providing targeted ads to users in others Delivering non-Facebook apps to iPhones.
The next version of Apple's mobile operating system, iOS 14, is slated to hit an iPhone near you this fall. In addition to the many new features for end users, app developers in iOS 14 must notify users when their app captures a unique device code known as IDFA (ID for Advertisers).
The IDFA is a randomly generated code that Apple assigns to a device. (Google assigns similar numbers to Android devices.) Apps can then use these codes to link user activity together. For example, Facebook, a local shopping app and a local weather app can access this identifier. Facebook and other advertising businesses can use this cross-app usage data to serve targeted ads to advertisers on other apps. This is what Facebook is doing with its Audience Network program.
The changes that require users to log in to make the IDFA essentially unusable, Facebook warned developers today. Facebook apps on iOS 14, which include Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Messenger, and many others, no longer capture users' IDFA.
"Despite our best efforts (the changes), Audience Network can become so ineffective on iOS 14 that it may not make sense to offer it on iOS 14 in the future," said Facebook in a blog post. "Our ability to deliver targeted ads on iOS 14 will be limited. As a result, some iOS 14 users may not see ads from the Audience Network, while others may still see ads from us, but they are less relevant." "
Less advertising means less money, Facebook added, saying, "Due to the limited ability of advertisers to accurately target and measure their campaigns, app developers and publishers should have lower CPMs (i.e. views of their ads) on the Audience Network and likely other advertising networks expect on iOS. "
"These updates are having a profound impact on the developer ecosystem," noted Facebook, which is likely to be the case. Facebook also appeared to indicate displeasure that Apple acted without first consulting Facebook about its preferences, saying, "We believe industry consultations are critical to changes in platform policy … we look forward to continuing" with Industry and trade groups "working together to do this right for people and small businesses."
The company is almost certainly right that users will not choose to have their identifier tracked when offered the option and it will absolutely hurt Facebook's Audience Network business. However, regulators and privacy advocates may disagree with Facebook on whether this is a bad thing.
Facebook is almost constantly under fire for how it handles various aspects of privacy and user data. Last year, she agreed with the Federal Trade Commission on a record $ 5 billion fine on a collection of allegations related to user privacy.
Since 2013, when Facebook acquired a product called Atlas from Microsoft for around 100 million US dollars, it has been of great importance for Facebook to track online activities from anywhere and to link them across software and platforms.
As Facebook described it at the time, the acquisition offered "marketers and agencies" an "opportunity" to get "a holistic view of campaign performance" through "different channels". In short, the acquisition and expansion of this toolset, which has long been fully integrated with Facebook's advertising platform, was Facebook's key to finding the holy grail of online advertising. The company was finally able to see its effectiveness everywhere.
Meanwhile, the relationship between Facebook and Apple also seems to be growing tense. Facebook followed in Epic Games' footsteps last week to take a public blow on Apple for the 30 percent fee Apple charges for every digital purchase made through an iOS app.