Apple’s upcoming operating, iOS 14, could have a big impact on publishers who work with Facebook’s ad network. The OS is currently in public beta. Apple published a couple of blogs outlining the potential impact of a major privacy change that the company announced at WWDC. The change is the fact that Apple will explicitly ask users whether they want to opt-in before sharing the IDFA identifier with the app developers, who can use it to target ads.
In response to this, Facebook said it will not be collecting this data on its own apps, but it suggested that the bigger impact will be on the Facebook Audience Network which uses Facebook data to target ads on other publishers’ websites and apps.
Facebook said in a statement, “Like all ad networks on iOS 14, advertiser ability to accurately target and measure their campaigns on Audience Network will be impacted, and as a result publishers should expect their ability to effectively monetize on Audience Network to decrease. Ultimately, despite our best efforts, Apple’s may render Audience Network so ineffective on iOS 14 that it may not make sense to offer it on iOS 14.”
In fact, Facebook said that in testing, it found that without targeting and personalization, mobile app install campaigns brought in 50% less revenue for publishers, and it warned, “The impact to Audience Network on iOS 14 may be much more.”
Ron Thomas, general manager for analytics at App Annie, described this as “an acknowledgement from a top publisher that IDFA is truly gone and attribution in this post IDFA world is changing.” Brian Quinn, U.S. president and general manager at mobile ad attribution company, AppsFlyer, said Facebook’s announcement is “a clear message to the market.”
Quinn told Tech Crunch via email, “The possibility of losing Facebook Audience Network as a major source of revenue can potentially devastate the smaller publisher and developer communities on a global scale, which in turn would impact users worldwide that value and utilize apps as they navigate through their daily lives. The ability to deliver relevant ads to users – and prove their effectiveness through attribution – is integral for publishers and developers to build sustainable businesses around their apps and deliver quality content that users love.”
However, some have been more sceptical about the way Facebook is framing the news. Famed gadget reviewer Walt Mossberg suggested that we’ll be seeing more “griping about this from Facebook and other leaders of the toxic ad tech privacy theft industry,” but he argued that rather than rather hurting publishers, all the change iOS does is “give consumers clear choices.”
Similarly, Jason Kint of Digital Content Next said that Facebook is “pretending to be the messenger of what’s good for publishers. A majority of Facebook’s data collection happens across other company’s services and feeds the mothership.”