Facebook has delayed plans to cut itself off from iPhone data after Apple postponed a privacy update that would have dramatically altered how mobile marketing partners operate.
Apple was expected to roll out a privacy feature in its next software update to iOS 14, the main operating system on devices like the iPhone and iPad. The new rules would have forced app developers to request permission from consumers to collect their IDFA—Apple’s identification for advertisers.
Facebook had said last month that instead of abiding by Apple’s upcoming privacy restrictions, it would wean its platform off of the Apple data entirely. But following an uproar in the mobile marketing world, from app developers, game makers and others, Apple confirmed last week it would delay the privacy update. That prompted today's move by Facebook. “We, along with the rest of the business community, continue to await final policy details from Apple,” the social network stated in a policy update. “Given Apple’s delayed implementation of the user permission requirement, we will continue collecting IDFA on iOS 14 in an attempt to reduce unnecessary disruption to our customers’ businesses.”
The back-and-forth comes as the digital ad industry is in a state of flux with competing platforms and interests adjusting to a new demand for more consumer privacy protections. These demands have been felt in new laws and regulations, like the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation and California’s Consumer Privacy Act. Apple has been a key proponent of privacy, too, changing how advertisers and publishers track consumers on the Safari web browser and within iPhone apps.
Facebook and Google have been updating their own ad platforms to instill more controls for users to opt-out of data collection, too. But they have been trying to balance the need for transparency while still fostering a robust internet ad ecosystem. There are concerns that limiting data collection will lead to less personalization and ultimately reduce the amount of money publishers can make from the open web.
If developers didn’t get the required permission, they would have been cut off from the IDFA, which is key to running marketing campaigns across Apple’s platform. The IDFA helps brands target ads to new users and measure the effectiveness of ad campaigns. Video game makers are especially reliant on the tech.
Facebook runs a mobile app ad network called Facebook Audience Network, and many of the developers that use it to run marketing campaigns and serve ads to their own apps would be affected by Apple’s new rules. Many people in the mobile marketing industry are concerned that when presented with a stark option to prevent tracking, consumers will opt-out. Meanwhile, developers claim they need IDFA to develop personalized services and more for users.
Apple has positioned its privacy rules delay as aimed at giving developers more time to developers to prepare. The new policies are now expected to roll out next year.