Apple’s Recent Privacy Changes: What you Should Know

March 18, 2021 | Digital Marketing Technology, Marketing

During the summer of 2020, Apple announced its internet-busting new privacy feature: for the first time, the tech giant would require all apps to ask users for explicit permission to track data. Apple called the privacy update App Tracking Transparency (ATT, for short) was expected to launch alongside iOS 14 but was delayed after firms like Facebook started to push back.

Recently, however, Apple announced an official launch date for its new anti-tracking feature: “early spring” 2021.

Here’s what you need to know about the privacy features, what they mean for you, and how they will impact the advertising and app space at large. Let’s dive in.

What ATT Includes

When you open your phone and use an app, that app is probably tracking you across other websites and apps.

This tracking and data collection allows those apps to target you with ultra-specific advertising, and is usually facilitated through what the tech industry calls “identifiers for advertisers,” or (IDFAs). IDFAs track your data without revealing your identifying personal information.

Apple’s ATT update has one large, stated goal: to add transparency to the data tracking process. In its announcement on the topic, Apple states:

“Starting with iOS 14.5, iPadOS 14.5, and tvOS 14.5, you’ll need to receive the user’s permission through the AppTrackingTransparency framework to track them or access their device’s advertising identifier. Tracking refers to the act of linking user or device data collected from your app with user or device data collected from other companies’ apps, websites, or offline properties for targeted advertising or advertising measurement purposes.Tracking also refers to sharing user or device data with data brokers.”

Here’s what that means, in simple terms: app users will now offer an option to opt-out (or in) for tracking on iPhones and iPads.

This will be a pretty clear process: users will get a pop-up notification that tells them an app would like permission to track them across third-party websites and apps. From there, they’ll have the option to consent or click a button that opts them out of tracking.

This feature is just the latest in Apple’s recent series of privacy pushes and goes one step further in allowing people to identify the data an app collects.

What ATT Means for Advertisers

Changes are nothing new for digital marketers, but for many the implications of Apple’s ATT seem a bit scarier than the typical update. However, it’s important to take these things in stride and stay up to date on the topic. While digital tracking as we know it may be coming to an end, platforms are reacting and developing new ways to safely track consumer data without being intrusive. Updates like Facebook’s Conversion API indicate the direction of the future.

When it comes to Facebook there are two factors to consider. Firstly, the above mentioned Conversion API, which gives advertisers a way to measure ad performance across channels by tracking the end point of a consumer journey. While the Conversion API isn’t a solve-all solution, it does comply with ATT while still recording the final action of the consumer. If you haven’t already, start testing this and learning how it can be used to optimize. Secondly, Facebook’s system is designed to keep an equilibrium between performance and spend. This means that if there is a learning curve as a result of the ATT update that widely affects performance, cost (like CPM) will also go down. So while reduced data may hurt Facebook’s bottom line, it may not necessarily affect yours.

As for Google, it will be even more important to actively allocate effort for demand generating avenues like Google Shopping, Google Ads, and YouTube rather than just demand capture efforts. The importance of diversification holds true across platforms. This means finding ways to invest in branding campaigns that help performance by boosting awareness and demand generation.

The final opportunity and potentially the most important is finding ways to capture new and utilize first-party. This is the best way to safeguard against current and future privacy policies that restrict third-party data. Lastly, be sure to communicate these changes and what you are doing as a result to clients.

If you have any questions about your technology strategy and Apple’s ATT update please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team at