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Video: Apple’s App Transparency Escalates

Apple has made some bold moves over the past year. These include limiting device identification data (IDFA) for app developers and marketers, while amping up user-facing notifications for app tracking. One thing that’s occurred to us lately is what these moves say about Apple’s position and priorities.

In other words, some businesses and marketplaces have a balancing act. Just like Yelp has to balance the needs of businesses (revenue) and consumers (engagement), Apple has to balance users and app publishers. And in all of its privacy-related moves lately, Apple is signaling that it’s prioritizing the former. 

Apple knows where its bread is buttered and that’s consumer hardware purchases — its primary revenue stream. So in this era of privacy reform, it has decided to lean into being the consumer-first privacy-friendly option. And it can get away with that, as data collection isn’t something it needs to sell hardware. 

The same can’t be said for other tech giants like Google and Facebook, which will continue to face headwinds from ad-based revenue models. That’s where data collection is a key component to attract advertisers. But it’s clearly been upended in the privacy backlash of the past two years, hurting some more than others. 

iOS 13 Location Notification Rears Its Ugly Head

Public Persona

Back to Apple, as part of the aforementioned embrace of a privacy-first persona, it’s out with a new video (see below) to explain its latest iOS updates. As background, iOS 14.5 drops the gauntlet on data collection. That includes more in-app notifications to explicate data tracking, and to offer opt-outs. 

Like similar moves we’ve examined in the past — such as iOS 13 location-tracking notifications — this transparency could drastically reduce the level of in-app user tracking that’s possible. That tracking includes several things including capturing user information (like your email), and location behavior.

The latter is obviously where the rubber meets the road in the local commerce space. App publishers, ad networks and brands/marketers have enjoyed more than a decade of in-app user tracking to inform ad targeting and attribution. That’s been slowly stepped back over time and now takes a big jump back. 

But one remaining question is the degree to which users will take the invitation to opt-out of location tracking. With more persistent and active notifications when they open apps, they may be more inclined to opt out. Though there’s some evidence to the contrary, explainer videos like the below could boost opt-outs. 

iOS 13 Location Notification Rears Its Ugly Head, Part II

Fear Factor

In its video, Apple looks to communicate its position in all of this. And again, it makes its priorities clear in taking a consumer-first path. It notably contains some ominous tones and fear-factor rhetoric to inform users about how apps could already be tracking them. This is all in the name of gaining user trust. 

See the full video below for more color. Though Apple’s crackdowns on data collection in iOS aren’t new… the PR approach in this video is. We’ll continue to keep a close eye on more such communications from Cupertino and how the iOS14.5 rollout impacts players throughout local commerce and SMB SaaS.

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