June 17, 2021

The push and pull between privacy and personalisation continues

Apple was the first to allow people to opt out of mobile ad tracking with its iOS14.5 update and has announced new privacy features are in the pipeline for iOS15. Now, Google is preparing to follow suit and Android users will have the option to opt out of personalised ads in mobile apps and block unique IDs starting later this year. 

One move after the other.

Apple gave its customers far more control over their privacy in the iOS14.5 update, and is only just getting started. One of Steve Jobs’ famous marketing philosophies is to give customers what they want before they know they want it, and it appears that his predecessors are living by those words. Many marketers are open to debate whether or not customers really care about privacy. However, Apple is showing its customers that a world in which they can control how their personal data is used is possible, and are making it all feel very desirable in their latest ad campaign.

Apple’s next push.

They have also just announced a new suite of privacy features in the upcoming iOS 15 update. Apple’s update will encrypt IP addresses, block email tracking in the Mail app, and provide users with reports that communicate who is accessing and sharing their data. After the iOS14.5 update, marketers were turning to email IDs to stitch together audience insights and this approach will need to be revised again. The changes are a strong push (or dare we say, shove) forwards for marketers into the privacy-first future. 

… and Google is following suit.

Google has also just announced similar privacy updates across its app ecosystem. Google’s Android 12 update will allow users to opt out of personalised ads and block unique device IDs when it is made available in late 2021. While there is little detail surrounding the Android 12 update, we can see that it will be comparable to Apple’s iOS14.5 update. However, users will need to opt out of personalisation using the advertising ID in Android Settings. The advertising ID is a unique, user-resettable ID for advertising, provided by Google Play services, which gives users better privacy controls and allows developers with a simple system to monetize their apps. 

What can you expect?

Reduced tracking capability means less user data, and Apple and Google’s latest privacy updates will increase the headwinds for advertisers. The accuracy of targeting and attribution will be impacted and the online customer journey could be blurred, standing as a harsh reality for digital marketers who have been spoiled with behavioural insights.

The privacy shift will also impact the advertising efficiency (and consequently, revenue stream) for platforms like Facebook and TikTok.  Effective, personalised advertising is the value proposition of social platforms to marketers, and it’s likely we will see these platforms release new solutions for reaching the right audiences. Facebook has just announced new monetisation features for Instagram influencers, which will boost the performance capabilities of brand-influencer relationships and become a new revenue stream for the platform by 2023. 

How to adapt.

Marketers should consider these updates in the larger context of the privacy shift. These announcements are a reminder that the shift to a privacy-first future is continuing. Moving forward, marketers will need to use a portfolio of tracking and analysis tools to understand user journeys, particularly as the industry transitions away from the cookie and ubiquitous user IDs of the past.  

The real play? 

Consumers have rarely appreciated or been aware of the costs and benefits of personalisation when they share data with advertisers. It has simply been the price people pay without fully understanding the impact. Apple is making some of the loudest first steps in the marketing of privacy. They are no stranger to building consumer trust through the first-mover advantage and industry disruption. It’s also likely that Google perceives these privacy updates to be in their best interests when it comes to managing public perception. Time will tell as to whether consumers actually prefer personalised ads or privacy in the long term, but marketers will need to continue to adapt as the industry finds a new balance.

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