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Due to growing privacy concerns among consumers, Apple has taken a hard-line approach in its most recent 14.5 update. Now, iOS will require apps to get a user’s permission to track or access consumer data for advertising purposes.

This new feature, called AppTrackingTransparency, has advertisers panicking. Facebook has responded by waging a media campaign against Apple that includes taking out full-page ads in newspapers. The chief concern is that the update will neutralize the effectiveness of digital ads running on iPhones, iPads, and tvOS around the world.

Let’s take a look at what these changes look like and how they might affect your business.

What is AppTrackingTransparency and how does it work?

The update, which Apple rolled out in iOS 14.5, lets users choose whether an advertiser can track their online and in-app activities, as well as gain access to a device’s advertising identifier. App developers must now ask permission to use specific information from other apps and websites for advertising purposes. Every app that tracks user data will require a separate opt-in. Users can go to their settings to see which apps have requested permission to track and can change their choices at any time.

The move is part of Apple’s efforts to give users more control over how apps use their data. “AppTrackingTransparency gives you the choice to share the data that’s being collected about you across apps and websites,” Tim Cook tweeted when the update came out in April.

Apple iOS 14.5 update

The feature will not ask users to give permission when activity only occurs on the device, when the data is solely for security purposes such as fraud prevention, or when a consumer reporting agency would share the data.

Should advertisers be worried about iOS 14.5?

It’s too early to know how these changes might affect advertisers, but the impact of the iOS update is likely to be significant. According to Apple’s 2020 Q1 report, there were 1.4 billion active Apple devices worldwide, with 900 million of those devices being iPhones. In the U.S., iPhones represent over 45% of all smartphones. The update could affect conversion rates, page views, cart adds, checkouts, and purchases. Of course, a lot comes down to how many users will choose not to have their data tracked. According to Flurry, which is tracking those numbers, only 6% of iPhone users in the U.S. opted in as of May 13.


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