Advertising industry must reckon with Google, Apple putting privacy first

As Apple gets ready to put restrictions on its IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers) in iOS 14, and Google promises to use “privacy-preserving technologies” after it phases out cookies from its Chrome browser in 2022, marketers will have to adjust to a new world where they won’t necessarily be able to access all the information they once could about potential customers. For ad-based businesses like Facebook, that could lead to billions of dollars in lost revenues.

While the two primary mobile platform holders are vowing to put privacy first, advertisers will still likely find workarounds to the tracking problem. Google’s David Temkin, Director of Product Management for Ads Privacy and Trust, suggested as much in the company’s announcement. He noted that Google won’t be limiting what third parties do and remarked that other providers “may offer a level of user identity for ad tracking across the web that we will not — like PII graphs based on people’s email addresses.”

On Apple’s side, in the new version of iOS 14, users will still have the option to agree to tracking, which could provide a glimmer of hope for advertisers. According to a Forbes study, about 40% of iOS users will allow apps to track them, with the 35-44-year-old demographic being the most willing to opt in. Leaving on tracking allows for personalized ads that may be more relevant to a consumer’s interests – which, in turn, could lead to greater sales conversion for advertisers.

While the road ahead might be more challenging for marketers, agencies have had plenty of notice and have been preparing for some time, according to George Popstefanov, Founder and CEO of digital agency PMG. He told CNBC that marketers must now diversify their spending, and that he’s seen many of his clients “moving swiftly to build their data infrastructures and to invest in their CRM, to better leverage their first-party data… The importance of strategic planning and insights will be more important than ever for understanding audiences and how to connect at the right times and in contextually relevant ways.” Marketers may not like Apple and Google’s privacy-first approach, but according to Interpret’s New Media Measure®, in the US, 50% of iPhone owners and 53% of Samsung smartphone owners are not comfortable with websites or mobile apps sharing any information about them with advertisers.