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Apple to delay privacy feature set for iOS 14 that Facebook says will ‘cripple’ the mobile ad market

Apple is delaying a controversial privacy feature in its upcoming iOS 14 that requires developers to ask users for permission before tracking their mobile activity and data.

The tech giant posted a note online Thursday stating that although its priority is users’ ability to choose, it wants to give developers time to adjust and has pushed the rollout until early 2021.

The delay could benefit Facebook, which last week said the changes would render one of its mobile advertising tools ‘so ineffective on iOS 14 that it may not make sense to offer it.’

Apple announced new privacy rules in June that were slated to take effect with the launch of its iOS 14 operating system this fall.

Among them is a new requirement that advertisers who employ an Apple-provided tracking identifier, or other tools that have a similar function, must now show a pop-up notification asking for tracking permission.

Facebook said last week it would quit using the tool that requires a prompt in its own apps but did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

Apple said Thursday that developers will still have the option to use the prompt when iOS 14 arrives.

‘When enabled, a system prompt will give users the ability to allow or reject that tracking on an app-by-app basis,’ Apple said in a statement.

 ‘We want to give developers the time they need to make the necessary changes, and as a result, the requirement to use this tracking permission will go into effect early next year.’

Digital advertising firms will have space in the notification to explain why they are seeking tracking permissions, but they expect most users will decline to grant that permission. 

Advertisers are instead gearing up to use a new advertising system that Apple has created and claims is more private because it does not provide detailed information about individual users. 

Advertisers have said that system is likely to generate less revenue. 

Facebook was not happy with the new update, releasing a statement on August 27 claiming privacy changes in the next version of Apple’s mobile operating system will cripple app makers’ ability to make money from targeted advertising. 

Facebook and other ad networks rely on this device identifier to track where users go online, what they do and what they buy, to deliver targeted ads. 

The social media giant fears that, given the choice, many iOS users will reject tracking, affecting not only its own ad business but also any app makers and publishers that use its Audience Network.

The Audience Network allows Facebook and Instagram advertisers to place their ads elsewhere on the internet.

Facebook claims that the change in iOS 14 could slash the amount publishers make from targeted advertising in half, and may force the company to pull its Audience Network altogether.

In Facebook’s second-quarter earnings call last month, finance chief Dave Wehner said the company is ‘still trying to understand what these changes will look like and how they will impact us and the rest of the industry.

‘But the very least, it’s going to make it harder for app developers and others to grow using ads on Facebook and elsewhere.’

In a blog post, Facebook said it was making changes to its own apps, to help its advertising partners prepare for the iOS 14 changes.

It will no longer collect the identifier for advertisers on its own apps for iOS 14 devices.

The firm is also asking businesses to create new ad accounts dedicated solely to running ads for apps for iOS 14 users, in order to comply with Apple’s new rules.

And it said these changes were likely to ‘disproportionately affect’ its Audience Network, given its heavy dependence on app advertising.

‘Like all ad networks on iOS 14, advertiser ability to accurately target and measure their campaigns on Audience Network will be impacted, and as a result publishers should expect their ability to effectively monetize on Audience Network to decrease,’ the company said.

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