Facebook + Apple Privacy War: What It Means For Tracking & Marketing Analytics

In January 2021, Apple announced that they’d be implementing new privacy features across all of their products to give users more transparency and control while Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg criticized the changes, saying they were specifically put in place to put Facebook at a disadvantage. 

According to Apple, “On average, apps include six “trackers” from other companies, which have the sole purpose of collecting and tracking people and their personal information. Data collected by these trackers is pieced together, shared, aggregated, and monetised, fuelling an industry valued at $227 billion per year.”

Thousands, if not millions of users have been pushing for more control over their data in recent years and for many privacy advocates, Apple’s announcement couldn’t have come sooner but what does the Facebook and Apple privacy war mean for tracking marketing analytics? 

Apple’s Privacy Nutrition & App Tracking Transparency

As part of its iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 updates, Apple introduced a variety of important privacy features intended to help users make more informed decisions about their data. Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering, Craig Federighi said, “Our goal is to create technology that keeps people’s information safe and protected. We believe privacy is a fundamental human right, and our teams work every day to embed it in everything we make.”

According to Apple’s press release on Data Privacy Day about their new updates, two particular features stand out in helping users protect their privacy:

“With the new privacy information section on App Store product pages, a feature called the privacy nutrition label, Apple is requiring every app — including its own — to give users an easy-to-view summary of the developer’s privacy practices.” “The privacy nutrition labels give users key information about how an app uses their data — including whether the data is used to track them, linked to them, or not linked to them.”

Most notably, with Apple’s next beta update, “App Tracking Transparency will require apps to get the user’s permission before tracking their data across apps or websites owned by other companies.” “Users will be able to see which apps have requested permission to track, and make changes as they see fit.”

Meanwhile, as Apple moves in the right direction towards protecting and giving users control over their own data, Facebook’s changes to WhatsApp’s Privacy Policy were widely criticised by users. 

Facebook’s Changes to WhatsApp’s Privacy Policy

While Facebook has put measures in place to ensure users are informed when communicating with businesses on Whatsapp by clearly labelling conversations with businesses that are choosing to use hosting services from Facebook their new privacy policy enables businesses to see what users are saying, allowing them to use that information for their own marketing purposes, which may include advertising on Facebook.

This does not mean Whatsapp or Facebook can see personal messages or hear calls, it also cannot see a user’s shared location meaning that only business accounts have access to track data when communicating with customers. Whether or not you think that’s fair from a personal perspective, for many CMO’s and marketing professionals, being able to track and utilise this kind of information certainly empowers their ability to improve ROI through valuable insights into their marketing analytics.

What Does it Mean for Marketing Analytics? 

While privacy policies are forcing marketers to reconsider how they track and target users. Many stakeholders oppose the idea of marketers walking away from personalization initiatives and ID resolution. While there are others like Mark Stouse argue that advertisers need to listen to the marketplace and respect consumers wishes not to be tracked.

“Most marketers are not yet really thinking twice about ID resolution platforms and the large-scale automated pursuit of people that they enable,” said Mark Stouse, CEO of Proof Analytics. “Most marketers believe that ID resolution is an absolute prerequisite to driving business and show value, which is not accurate.”

Because Apple has yet to roll out their App Tracking Transparency framework, we cannot quantify the impact that the changes will have on marketing analytics as yet. What we do know is that, once launched, those in performance marketing rolls will have a tough few months ahead as they try to target ads to Apple users across all social media platforms, including Facebook. Marketing strategies will need to adapt and businesses will need to look at other methods of targeting leads to reach an understanding marketing ROI .

One new avenue that many marketers will look to explore is Whatsapp, when the new privacy changes come into effect on 15th May 2021. Originally set to launch in February this year, the company moved back the date on which people will be asked to review and accept the new terms to give themselves time to clear up the misinformation around how the new privacy and security will affect users on WhatsApp.

With all the uncertainty in the air, we asked Sean Xie, Head of Performance Marketing at Staff Treats how he expects the Facebook and Apple privacy war will impact the ability to track marketing analytics. Take a look at our blog post to understand the future of marketing further.

“Since the latest iOS 14 rollout, we have seen an impact on several campaigns, although it’s difficult to identify the impact precisely. Regardless of the impact, it’s actually an interesting wake-up call for advertisers to start lifting the curtain behind Facebook Ads’ ‘magic-like’ audience targeting and understand more about how certain things work, which previously wasn’t necessary. It also forces many of us to rethink our multichannel strategy, and start to explore new approaches, instead of heavily relying on very few sources, or even single channels to deliver strong results.”

As a result of the privacy war, traditional methods of tracking marketing analytics may no longer help marketers track and prove ROI. Social media marketing campaigns will become harder to personalize and tracking users will Apple devices may be near impossible. Although apps like Snapchat have investigated an IDFA alternative known as probabilistic matching, Apple has made it clear that “no tracking” without permission will be tolerated.

It’ll therefore be extra important to find new ways of being able to predict and accelerate marketing efforts and investments. Thankfully, Proof Analytics enables users to calculate and visualise future relationships between marketing investments and business performance in real-time. By being the “eye in the sky” our tool allows you to see more of the full picture, enabling you to plan and optimize your marketing spend on an overall level.

If you’re interested in learning more about marketing ROI and how our platform can help you bring added value to your business, book a demo with us today.