The internet ad industry is ready to confront Apple even more forcefully this year, seeing a growing threat and “hypocrisy” over its privacy policies, according to David Cohen, CEO of IAB, the digital ad industry trade group that includes Google and Meta as members.
“While there are no shortage of extremists attacking our industry from the outside, there are some attacking it from the inside out,” Cohen said on Monday, in his opening remarks at IAB’s annual leadership meeting. “Most notably, Apple exemplifies the cynicism and hypocrisy that underpins the prevailing extremist view.”
Apple did not return a request for comment, but IAB’s rallying cry shows that there is more tension to sort out in the world of digital advertising. Apple has become a thorn in the side of the big tech platforms Meta and Google, since it limited access to data from Apple devices. Apple has been criticized for breaking the digital ad ecosystem with policies such as App Tracking Transparency, which forced all apps to ask consumers for permission to use their identifying data. Without tracking, ad platforms can’t target and measure ads with the same veracity as before. And while Apple squeezed rivals with new restrictions, the company has also been building its own ad business.
Cohen said that Apple is using double standards. For its ads, Apple can gently persuade consumers to accept “personalization” on iPhones, but third parties are forced to use starker language when making the pitch to users—they have to ask for permission to “track.”
“It can’t be that ‘personalization’ in the Apple ecosystem equals ‘tracking’ outside of it,” Cohen said in a phone interview ahead of IAB’s leadership meeting. “That’s not really a fair fight.”