If you are not familiar with the term iOS, then think of it by its former name, iPhone OS, also known as iPhone Operating System. This operating system is exclusively used by Apple hardware, and more specifically, it is used with Apple’s mobile products. With around 40% of the market using Apple phones, their iOS is quite prevalent.
Since so many people use Apple products, changes to the iOS cannot be taken lightly. Of course, Apple are not the only ones making changes, especially not when it comes to privacy and data, which is the main point of iOS 14. Regulations and laws in the European Union and the US are also making privacy changes. Apple only goes further.
The Changes Due to iOS 14
In September 2020, there were numerous changes that came along with iOS 14, starting with a change to the use of an Identifier for Advertisers (IFDA). Privacy changes have also been made, and on top of all of that, user permission has become an important step and potentially a roadblock when it comes to tracking and data collection.
Mobile apps rely on an IDFA (which is something very similar to a cookie), when it comes to tracking users. Before iOS 14, tracking could just happen without any additional steps, allowing apps to easily identify and track users. Not only did this help target ads, but it let apps know if the user made a purchase, giving them important data.
Now, due to changes implemented with iOS 14, apps will need permission to track users with an IDFA. If the use of an IDFA is denied, it will prevent apps from collecting important data.
Another big change comes in the form of privacy. Mainly, apps are now required to have a plan when it comes to their privacy practices. In fact, they are required to provide their privacy practices prior to appearing on the Apple Store.
More importantly, the apps must adhere to any requests for a user’s data to be deleted. What all of this does is give Apple a lot of power over the apps on its platform, potentially having grounds to make decisions unilaterally because of it.
Lastly, iOS 14 has enacted a system where apps must acquire user permission and remain transparent. A user must grant permission for apps to access their device’s information, and the permission must be given in the form of a pop-up that asks the user if they will allow tracking or not.
The iOS 14 track pop-up example. Source: Forbes
Why Would Apple Make These Changes?
Advertisements make money, so it might seem strange that Apple would make it more difficult to run advertisements and track users. However, they benefit a great deal from this, starting with the additional power they receive from the changes. After all, privacy gives an excuse to take action against certain apps if they fail to adhere to the policies.
Also, instead of relying solely on advertisements, they make money through selling the devices and the apps on their Apple Store. Therefore, these privacy and tracking changes don’t hurt them nearly as much as they would another company.
The Effects of These Changes
These changes will affect a large number of people, but the groups that might feel it the most are app developers, advertising platforms, and the advertisers themselves. These groups rely heavily on tracking and ads, so they will feel the changes more than others.
App developers get hit by two different things. The first is the privacy change itself, which gives them an entirely new set of rules to use. Then there’s the fact that they need to program in a pop-up to ask for user permission. If they are denied permission, they face losing money, which might push them towards another revenue source.
These platforms, such as Facebook and Google, advertise in apps and on websites in a very targeted way, reaching a specific audience for advertisers. However, the changes made with iOS 14 reduce the effectiveness of these platforms, which will reduce the number of advertisers that find value in using the platforms.
Advertisers lose out on important data. Unfortunately, for an advertiser, the privacy changes will make data collection more difficult. It won’t be impossible, and certain platforms that have their own login and tracking methods will not be impacted much. However, it will become more difficult, and the price of advertising will likely rise.
One previously mentioned solution is having a separate way to track users, such as an account where they need to log in. There are also partial solutions, such as server-side tracking, but that will not get you all of the data you want. You’ll also probably want to tell users about that as well, putting you against the same problems.
The changes implemented with iOS 14 are major, and they will heavily impact tracking, especially when it comes to apps. However, there are methods that will help you gather data. Therefore, the important thing is to look at these changes and figure out the best way to make the most out of them.
If you’re looking to get the most out of your data and overcome iOS14 limitations, learn more about PenPath’s guidance, services, and technologies.