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October 20, 2020

Unfettered by iOS Privacy Settings

Unfettered by iOS Privacy Settings

With the release of iOS 14, Apple is making yet another big privacy-focused upgrade to iOS. One where users can choose to hide their device’s ID from apps so it can’t be tracked. Something many advertisers, particularly Facebook, aren’t happy about.

But despite the uproar of Facebook and a handful of other social giants, there are certain programmatic advertising platforms who aren’t bothered by the privacy news at all. Why? Because, thanks to innovative ad technology, privacy changes such as these don’t negatively affect the targeting abilities of strong programmatic advertising platforms. Platforms like Genius Monkey.

But while a few programmatic players may have nothing to fear, social platforms like Facebook can’t say the same and are begrudgingly bracing for impact as these iOS privacy changes draw near.

What has Facebook in a frenzy?

So what’s all the fuss about privacy changes that’s sent Facebook into a frenzy? It comes down to one small, yet powerful, piece of user information: IDFA.

An “Identifier for Advertisers” (IDFA) is a device-specific identification number that advertisers use to track user activity and deliver targeted ads that are relevant to their interests as they click through different apps or sites. Thereby, optimizing the ad-delivery-conversion process for higher ROIs.

Every Apple device has a unique IDFA and apps have always been able to access it, even if users had manually reset it. But in iOS 14, Apple will now require Facebook and Instagram to ask for a user’s permission regarding tracking and personalized ads when they first open the program.

Users will be prompted to voluntarily share their unique advertising ID with apps and websites, but this is of little comfort to mainstream marketers given that many players throughout the ad industry–and Facebook, in particular–expect users will choose not to share this info.

And because IDFA tracking is one of the primary revenue streams of mainstream ad companies, such as Facebook and Google, this could be a heavy blow for many advertising giants… and their bottom lines.

Facebook up in arms against new privacy permissions

In the wake of the new privacy settings announcement, Facebook rallied app developers and marketers against Apple, claiming the privacy change would fundamentally jeopardize their business model in iOS.

Particularly, the Facebook Audience Network program, which uses IDFAs and is one of Facebook’s main services for app developers and advertisers on the platform. The social media giant published a public memo warning that Apple’s new policy would not only threaten the prospects of marketers and advertisers on the iPhone, but greatly weaken the strength of its network for advertisers, as well.

In response to Facebook’s public complaint, Apple agreed to delay rolling out the complete policy mandate so developers would have time to make necessary changes. But Apple made it clear that the updated iOS privacy policy will go into full effect once this adjustment period concludes.

With Facebook expecting their Facebook Audience ad tracking partners to lose revenue due to the new policy, and several other high-profile companies worried about how the new iOS 14 privacy feature will negatively affect their advertising efforts as well, it looks like Facebook’s uproar has bought itself (and its mainstream bedfellows) some time to scramble together a new strategy. Temporarily, at least.

Unfettered by iOS Privacy Settings

Programmatic advertisers have nothing to fear

While Facebook and other advertising giants are unhappy and worry the privacy changes requiring users to opt in will make the IDFA essentially useless, not all advertising platforms share their fears.

Unlike Facebook, programmatic ad tech companies such as Genius Monkey have never relied on default privacy permissions for our targeting success, and instead have maintained a flexible and diverse approach to all advertising efforts.

The beauty of the Genius Monkey programmatic model is that it’s built on a comprehensive collection of user information that provides for high-performance results, regardless of in-app user permissions. We pull our actionable user data from all kinds of sources like, 1st party behavioral, offline actions, contextual analysis, keyword targeting, location targeting and more, so we never rely on just one data source for targeting.

Instead, we tap into an endless amount of behavioral databases, both online and off, which allow us to get a full picture of the individuals we’re targeting. Thus, losing a demographic targeting ability via Facebook isn’t the end of the world as we can still pull similar information from elsewhere.

Genius Monkey doesn’t have to rely on IDFA data, either, because we can stitch together a person’s device identification through other means, such as browsers, email activities, purchases, apps they’ve logged into, and more. So our advertising clients won’t be affected by these new privacy settings because our ad technology will continue to pull plenty of high-quality consumer tracking data regardless of these changes.

The lasting power of programmatic

For advertisers who rely on IDFA to collect user data, deliver more relevant ads and track whether users interact with the ads they see, the new iOS privacy changes could be unwelcome news. The change to IDFA access is good news for iOS users, in that it gives them direct control over which apps can track and share their data with ad networks.

But because our programmatic platform doesn’t rely solely on IDFA access for customer tracking and personalization, not much will change for our platform, or our clients, once the full measure of the new iOS settings kicks in. This makes us rather unfettered when it comes to privacy settings, and thus, still primed for future success.

So while Apple’s decision to hide a device’s IDAF by default might be problematic for advertising giants like Facebook that rely on monetized ad revenue, it’s still a welcome privacy move to better empower users and has little impact on well positioned full-performance programmatic ad platforms like Genius Monkey.

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