Apple has just dealt another blow to Facebook with the publication of surprising information on the advertising targeting of the iPhone.
For the past few years, the iPhone maker and Facebook have been embroiled in a bitter dispute over privacy. Things picked up speed after the launch of Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) feature in iOS 14.5, which limits the data Facebook can collect by giving iPhone users the option to opt out of tracking.
And they did, Facebook could lose over $12 billion due to iPhone privacy features.
But some people have accused Apple of introducing ATT in order to boost its own advertising. The iPhone maker strongly denies this and has even commissioned a white paper to demonstrate its commitment to a privacy-preserving world.
Apple has always maintained that it’s possible to target iPhone users with ads, but without collecting a ton of personal data. This goes against the philosophy of Facebook, and of course the other tech giant, Google, which is introducing its own cookie replacement, Topics.
Apple has now delivered startling news that backs up its claims about private ad targeting. In a presentation to advertisers seen by AppleInsider, the iPhone maker revealed that untargeted ads are just as effective as those that use first-party data.
The presentation, which covered Apple’s search ad business, showed that 78% of search volume on the App Store came from iPhones with first-party data collection disabled. In other words, iPhone users are still responding to ads, despite having first-party data collection turned off. This is the first time Apple has shared statistics about its Apple Advertising toggle.
By the way, the toggle is in Settings > Privacy > Apple Advertising in case you want to check yours now.
Ad targeting Apple’s way
When the Apple Advertising toggle is off, advertisers can target you via search terms, which simply uses whatever is typed into the App Store search bar. Apple’s argument is that this method is just as effective as first-party ad targeting, and it gives advertisers a wider network of iPhone users with data collection disabled.
Of course, this is very different from the ATT feature that targets third-party data on iPhone users’ other apps and services, but Apple is trying to show that privacy-focused tracking is possible.
It comes as the iPhone maker has restructured its services team to focus more on its advertising business. That’s probably no coincidence, and with more people realizing that Facebook’s invasive ad tracking can be turned off, the privacy-preserving methods will likely be welcomed by the industry as well.