App Tracking Transparency destroys competitors such as Facebook while boosting Apple Inc. ad business, alleges new report

Apple Inc. Ad Search Online Advertising Targeted
Did Apple help itself by claiming to protect user privacy? Pic credit: Kim Støvring/Flickr

Apple Inc. introduced a number of “privacy-first” changes to the iOS and iPadOS for iPhone and iPad recently, including App tracking Transparency (ATT). During the same time, the company’s own advertising business more than tripled. A new report alleges this is not a coincidence, as Apple Inc. may have intentionally crippled competition to boost its own in-house solution, called Search Ads.

Apple Inc. introduced App tracking Transparency, claiming it will put the power to deny tracking and targeted ads, in the hands of iPhone and iPad users. However, the company’s true intentions were to obstruct or delay rivals from targeting ads at customers. As a seemingly direct result, Apple Inc.’s own targeted advertising business grew multifold.

Apple Inc. introduced App Tracking Transparency a year back, but its ad business thrived in just six months post introduction of the feature:

iPhone and iPad users collectively rejoiced when Apple Inc. introduced App tracking Transparency. The feature essentially acted as a gateway that iPhone and iPad users controlled.

Apple-branded device owners could deny access to their Apple Advertising ID, a unique identification number. This, in turn, prevented advertisers from tracking iPhone and iPad users across apps, websites, and online services.

iPhone and iPad users would still get ads. However, without tracking, these ads might not specific to the users. Needless to mention, denying the ability to track, was hailed as a new and pathbreaking privacy-protection feature.

Apple introduced ATT back in 2020 through iOS 14.5. iPhone and iPad devices are now receiving iOS 15.0.2, and iPadOS 15.0.5. The privacy-focused feature is now about a year old.

A new report indicates, during the six months after it introduced privacy changes to iPhones, Apple’s advertising business has more than tripled its market share.

Sponsored Ad Slots via Apple Inc. Search Ads platform now commands 58 percent App downloads through the App Store:

Apple Inc.’s in-house targeted ads business, called Search Ads, offers sponsored slots in the App Store that appear above search results. The feature places certain relevant items at top of the search results in the App Store.

According to Branch, an analytics company that focuses on the effectiveness of mobile marketing, Apple’s in-house business is now responsible for 58 percent of all iPhone app downloads. A year ago, Search Ads commanded just 17 percent.

This strongly indicates advertisers are now eagerly lining up at Apple Inc.’s doors to advertisers. In other words, other business, which mainly includes Facebook, may have seen a mass exodus.

Advertising needs accurate, and reliable data, very quickly, to be effective. Such data from an Apple iPhone was much more granular, and delivered real-time. However, the same data now reaches advertisers in three days’ time, and it is aggregated.

On the other hand, Apple offers detailed information to anyone signing up to its ads service. All this translates to “advertising with Apple has become more attractive”. And this especially true after the company allowed users would be opted out of advertising tracking by default.

Although a little difficult to prove, it appears Apple Inc. may have excluded itself from ATT. A while ago, Google’s FloC was facing the same accusations.

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