Reading the Tea Leaves on Apple‘s Privacy Restrictions

Well, we‘ve been living in a post-IDFA world for a few weeks now.

You may remember that as part of its new iOS 14.5 operating system, Apple introduced App Tracking Transparency (ATT), which requires mobile app developers and marketers to ask users for permission before Apple‘s Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) can track them across the web for marketing purposes.

Depending on who you ask, the results so far range from “not great” to “please grab me a drink.”

Also this week, the IAB Tech Lab‘s CEO is out, which could spell trouble for efforts to find alternatives to the third-party cookie, Google‘s antitrust lawsuit from the state of Texas inches toward a trial date and publishers experimenting with cookieless solutions.

It‘s been a busy week for the future of advertising. Let‘s dig in.

“An early red flag”

The numbers for how many mobile users are OK with being tracked across the iOS app ecosystem are starting to roll in. In the first week, the consent rate hovered in the 33 percent range, according to mobile demand-side platform Bigabid, which works with app developers. In the US, 46 percent of devices that could receive the permission request agreed to share their data, but the numbers dropped to 19 percent and 13 percent respectively in the UK and Australia, according to adtech vendor Blis.

Those numbers look downright robust compared to what app analytics company Flurry is reporting: Only 4 percent of iPhone and iPad users are allowing app tracking in the US and 12 percent globally. Oof.

It‘s important to note that there are many unknowns at play here. It‘s unclear how many apps have adopted support for ATT, for example, and how they will respond to the changes and even how aggressive Apple‘s enforcement will be.

“Most advertisers aren‘t prepared as they should be for ATT, but then again there‘s not much they could‘ve done because they haven‘t had enough information to act on,” Shumel Lais, CEO of mobile intelligence company Appsumer, told Digiday.

Heading for the exit

Dennis Buchheim is resigning as CEO of the IAB Tech Lab, a role he assumed in February. The move follows the April departure of Jordan Mitchell, an SVP who led consumer privacy, identity and data for the industry group, which is in the process of developing a framework for post-cookie targeting alternatives.

The IAB Tech Lab‘s Project Rearc, for instance, aims to develop principles and standards that can be used to create identity solutions and first-party identifiers that don‘t rely on third-party cookies. Buchheim and Mitchell were public faces for the effort.

“The departure of two of the IAB Tech Lab‘s senior leaders during a year of such import for the data-driven advertising and ad tech industry is noteworthy and perhaps a little troubling,” AdExchanger noted.

Shailley Singh, SVP of global products and programs at the Tech Lab, will step in as interim general manager.

Angling for a trial date

Foremost amid a wave of legal scrutiny around Google‘s alleged anti-competitive behavior is the lawsuit brought by 14 states led by Texas that focuses on adtech and digital advertising.

Of all the lawsuits and investigations, this is hands down the juiciest, with allegations of Google creating a secret pact with Facebook to manipulate ad auctions using information from publishers‘ ad servers without permission to give its ad-buying system an advantage, and withdrawing support for third-party cookies in Chrome to further its dominance under the guise of consumer privacy.

Really, it‘s worth a read if you haven‘t already.

The judge overseeing the case heard arguments this week for a trial date but didn‘t issue a ruling. Texas wants to hold the trial in spring 2022, but Google is pushing for fall 2023 and for moving it to California, where it is facing other antitrust lawsuits.

Stay tuned.

Contextual rises

While many industry efforts to find third-party cookie alternatives focus on email-based identifiers, some publishers aren‘t on board.

Insider, for example, expects some subscription and pop-up fatigue, so it is looking toward contextual products to give advertisers more scale and possible access to millions of impressions, says Jana Meron, Insider‘s senior vice president of programmatic and data strategy.

Speaking at a recent Life After Cookies virtual panel discussion, Meron said the publisher is building a deeper taxonomy for better contextual tagging by merging all of its data sources, including survey responses and email.

“I believe in the value exchange, but I don‘t think we need email to do it,” Meron said.

That‘s it for now. See you next week!