Today Apple did something it rarely does: Delay a requirement based on feedback from developers and the rest of the industry. The opt-in modal to enable tracking (practically speaking, IDFA sharing) was set to launch with iOS 14 this fall but will now go into effect in early 2021. Developers and advertisers are surely sighing with relief to have a few more months to adjust, but the cliff still looms.
In a statement, Apple cemented its overall stance on user privacy while announcing more time for developers to prepare for the changes regarding tracking permissions:
We believe technology should protect users’ fundamental right to privacy, and that means giving users tools to understand which apps and websites may be sharing their data with other companies for advertising or advertising measurement purposes, as well as the tools to revoke permission for this tracking. When enabled, a system prompt will give users the ability to allow or reject that tracking on an app-by-app basis. We want to give developers the time they need to make the necessary changes, and as a result, the requirement to use this tracking permission will go into effect early next year.
Apple has given developers and advertisers more time to adjust to a world with app-level user opt-in to sharing data, but looking at Apple’s documentation, the other privacy initiatives that were part of Apple’s deep dive on privacy in iOS 14, such as the “nutrition label” will still be required for new app and update submissions under iOS 14 starting this fall.
It’s important to remember, and we can’t emphasize enough, that these changes are still coming, they’re just taking longer.
Ad-supported app developers and their partners have been scrambling to find solutions since the announcement in mid-June and an expected release in mid-September. Industry players were struggling with specific business continuity strategies given how much of Apple’s announcement and guidance could be placed more firmly into the “philosophy” bucket than the “hard guidelines” bucket.
For those developers and advertisers, this announcement is a welcome reprieve.
This delay is reminiscent of the addition of App Transport Security (ATS) support in 2016, which was then delayed several times because of feedback received from the industry.
Get Ready for 2021
The changes the developer community and ad tech industry have been focusing on since WWDC will still be supported but not required under iOS 14, but we will have to wait for a hard deadline from Apple. Although developers have been given some breathing room, that doesn’t mean they should rest on their laurels. With the requirement delayed, that could mean stricter enforcement by Apple when the time comes.
For Apple, the previous three months have likely been a learning experience around a part of the app industry that they’ve enabled but don’t directly capture revenue from (more than 90% of apps in the App Store are free). To keep developers’ eye on the ball, we recommend taking this time to polish their implementations of AppTrackingTransparency and SKAdNetwork.
When it comes to SKAdNetwork especially, we are seeing a lot of uncertainty around parameters like ConversionValue and CampaignID. This new extended window will give UA marketers and their revenue teams more time to experiment, develop best practices, and be more likely to succeed when Apple begins enforcement of these changes.
Get a Leg Up!
As mentioned, the changes are still coming, and developers still have questions! Luckily, we have a webinar already scheduled and hosted by John Koetsier, journalist, analyst, futurist, and dreamer known for his work at Forbes, Future39, hosting the TechFirst and The AI Show podcasts. Read more about the content (the context may have changed, but the end result is the same!) Sign up for one of our two sessions either Wednesday, September 9th at 10am PDT / 5pm GMT or our second session at 5pm PDT — that’s September 10th, 9am ACT / 10am AEST for those in Asia and Australia.
Succinctly: The industry is no longer at the edge of a cliff, but traversing a gentle, but obvious, hill. The end outcome remains the same, just delayed, and at least we can all count on a Q4 that feels a little more normal than the one we were facing — Normal for 2020 anyway.
Timing is Everything
Apple also released a humorous new ad called “Over Sharing [sic]” emphasizing the company’s commitment to privacy and the security of its devices, just hours before announcing the delay.
The juxtaposition of this timing had some more privacy-minded consumers upset.
Privacy advocates might see this as Apple caving to pushback from an industry Apple generally doesn’t have much overlap with (iAd was shuttered in 2016, and Apple Search Ads are fairly narrow in scope) but ultimately, the delay will benefit consumers and keep their favorite apps free.
The delay of enforcement means apps will not be rejected when iOS 14 comes out, giving developers more opportunity to take advantage of the other new features in the iOS without worrying about having incorrectly implemented AppTrackingTransparency.
This gives developers time to balance the user experience with enhanced user privacy initiatives — without their revenue falling off a cliff and having to make hard decisions or close entirely. Expect to see a lot of webinars and best practices emerge over the rest of the year.
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