The Great Apple Vs Facebook Privacy Debate

apple vs privacy

User Data & Privacy - The world is watching

You may have heard about a serious beef happening between Facebook and Apple. It’s all to do with user data and privacy and it could have some serious consequences for businesses and marketers using Facebook as an advertising platform. But it’s complicated. So, we’re here to give you a bit of a rundown on what’s happened so far, what’s going to happen, and what it might all mean. Strap in!  


The background: 


In June last year, Apple flagged that some privacy changes were headed our way with their iOS 14 update. Apple announced that it would soon require developers to request user permission to gather data for ad targeting and behaviour tracking across apps and websites on iPhone and iPad, by way of a prompt that asks users to opt in or out when they open an app. If developers don’t comply, they risk having their apps removed from the app store. 



Apple was originally set to roll these changes out in 2020, but has delayed the changes until early 2021, to allow developers time to comply. 


While this can be seen as a win for consumer privacy, if the majority of users choose to opt out (and there’s a very good chance they will), it could create some serious issues for Facebook and its advertisers, including marketing agencies and businesses large and small.  


What happens when users opt out? 


The new prompt will allow users to easily opt out of apps collecting their IDFA code. This is a unique code that helps advertisers track the effectiveness of ads across mobile apps, websites and more. It’s how advertisers know if you’ve performed an action like downloaded a game from a Facebook ad, or clicked on a product within Instagram that redirects you to an online store. 


What does this mean for advertisers? 


It’s difficult to predict exactly how this is all going to pan out, so a lot of the information that’s currently out there is speculative. But these are some of the possible consequences according to digital marketers:  


  • Advertisers will have less access to data that allows them to accurately target ads. This will mean less personalisation, and smaller retargeting and lookalike audiences. (Source).  
  • The ability for advertisers to track conversions amongst iOS audiences will be compromised, a serious issue for agencies and marketers needing to report on attribution to their clients.  
  • Some metrics such as add to cart, leads and purchases may be underreported due to iOS users opting out of tracking. (Source).  
  • Facebook itself has stated that it expects advertisers using Audience Network to be the most affected, given its heavy dependency on app advertising. (Source). 


Facebook understandably aren’t happy. The tech giant recently took out a full-page ad in several U.S. newspapers with the headline ‘We’re standing up to Apple for small businesses everywhere.’ (Which can be seen as the pot calling the kettle black, given the way that Facebook have significantly decreased the ability for businesses to organically reach their Facebook audiences over the years, essentially becoming a ‘pay to play’ platform).  


Apple vs Facebook
Image source: 


While Apple, on the other hand, accused Facebook of having ‘disregard for user privacy’. 


It’s all getting a bit nasty.  


What should advertisers do? 


Facebook has released a list of actions that marketers can take now, which you can read here.  


But other than that, it’s a bit of a ‘wait and see’ situation. It’s also important to note that at this stage, these privacy changes will not affect desktop and Android users, so it’s difficult to predict exactly how much advertisers will be impacted. Some marketers are predicting that certain ad objectives will be affected more than others, meaning you may feel less of an impact depending on the type of ads you run. And as Andrea Vahl states, “you still will be able to get leads and sales and actions from iOS 14 devices, you just won’t be able to TRACK or optimize as well for those actions.”   


Should I put my ad spend elsewhere? 


Maybe. These changes will not only affect Facebook, but other social media platforms and apps, such as Twitter, Pinterest, and SnapChat. But according to a new report, advertisers on Facebook and SnapChat are likely to be the most impacted. 


Digital marketing platforms have always been somewhat volatile what with algorithm changes and the ever-increasing difficulty of organic reach, so it’s always been smart to have a diverse wholistic digital marketing strategy. If you’re nervous about how this might affect your revenue, it could be time to redirect some of your energy into other aspects of your strategy, like SEO and customer retention.  


At the end of the day, we think the best option is to stay nimble (something that most marketers learned to do well and truly throughout 2020!), start looking at other areas of your strategy, but don’t jump off Facebook for good just yet.  


If you’re not sure of where to go next with your digital marketing strategy, we can help! The WCM team are experts at designing omni-channel lead generating digital marketing strategies. Get in touch today 👇




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