Update: Andrew Orr discussed this article on Security Friday.
iOS 14 Controversy
iOS 14 is adding an anti-tracking feature that requires apps to ask for permission in order to use Apple customers’ personal data to track them. After outcry from advertising companies like Facebook, Apple decided to delay the feature until early 2021. Now Facebook-owned Instagram is the latest to complain.
If the ecosystem changes in a way that advertisers can’t really measure their return on investment, that’s really going to be, yes, somewhat problematic for our business, but it’s going to be problematic for all the big ad platforms roughly equally, so I’m not that worried about it over the long run.
It’s going to be much much more problematic for all the small businesses. There are millions of them out there that rely on us to target customers and to reach those customers. Particularly during a pandemic when they’re hurting.
Here’s my translation. Ironically, Apple’s move won’t have much of an impact on billion-dollar companies like Facebook and Google, in spite of their pearl-clutching. Instead it will strengthen them as smaller business increasingly rely on them for their advertising needs.
The boil will be coming to a head in the near future. Advertising certainly enables much of the free web that people rely on. But we have to challenge ourselves and ask if the current way of doing things is the best way for non-companies, AKA people.
Targeted advertising is a pyramid scheme. I’ve heard plenty of people complain about “I’m seeing ads for something I already bought” implying that these advertising algorithms just need to get better at prediction. They never will; it’s the ultimate goal-post-shifting. These ads are being targeted towards people who are the most likely to buy the product in the first place.
I know people are getting sick of the subscription world that Apple is driving towards. I’ve been annoyed at times, too. But aside from a return to old-fashioned banner ads, I think it’s currently the best way to support your local businesses and creators. Pay for content.