iOS 15 users must have received prompts from the Apple App Store asking permission to serve ‘Personalized Ads’ which was earlier enabled by default.
So, what does Apple’s Personalized Ads Feature mean?
Personalized ads are Apple’s way to serve relevant ads in the App Store and Apple News based on what you read, search, and purchase on Apple devices.
Apple rolling out the new prompt to ask permission is a big deal but there is a catch.
The company used to earlier collect information by default and users had to navigate multiple levels in the settings to disable it which is contradicting Apple’s privacy-first image. So, users using iOs14 and older versions still have the personalized ads feature enabled by default.
How Does The New Consent Prompt Work?
If you are running the recent iOs15 beta, Apple’s Ad Targeting or Personalized Ads appears as a pop-up notification when you open the App Store. In the pop-up, Apple explains the ads will help you discover relevant apps, products, and services.
With privacy-first priority, Apple required other developers to seek users’ permission from the users with App Tracking Transparency (ATT). Apparently, Apple is now showing that they are also treating itself the same as other developers.
But, Why Make This Move Now?
The fact that it was on by default led to Antitrust scrutiny especially when it has limited third-party ad networks with controversial ATT policy but did not follow a similar system to ask permission for its first-party advertising.
As pointed out by Verge rightly, Apple’s language choice is also worth examining – developers are expected to ask a user for consent to be tracked whereas Apple refers to what it is doing as ‘personalization.’
Apple’s rule for other developers: you have to ask users if they want to be “tracked” for ad targeting
But Apple’s own ad tracking is “personalization,” which sounds much less nefarious https://t.co/hsAQuT8zYb
— Alex Heath (@alexeheath) September 2, 2021
This new change brings Apple’s ad policy in line with what third-party developers were required to as a part of the App Tracking Transparency. This can be viewed as a tiny concession on Apple’s part in response to the current antitrust scrutiny in France. According to the complaint against Apple, the users were “insufficiently informed about the use of processing of its personal data” within its own app for ad targeting.
With this small step of ad-tracking pop-up, Apple is conveying “that they are trying to play fair”.
What Is The Final Score?
For iOS14, no permission is required to run personalized ads.
For iOS 15, Apple plans to make a request.
Other developers will have to take the consent and adhere to the law and Apple platform rules with the only question left, will these multiple consent dialog boxes make the user experience distressing?