As Apple’s iOS 14’s new privacy policies continue to provide fuel to Facebook’s and Apple’s feud, the employees of Facebook have reportedly backed the iPhone manufacturer. A little backstory into the whole fiasco – Facebook has been incessantly criticising Apple for the last few months due to its new operating system iOS 14. The new iOS would restrict Facebook to track a user’s data without his/her explicit permission and the constant negotiations between the two giants has made things ugly.
Apple launched its new iOS earlier this year which would begin to bar Facebook as well as its products from tracking iPhone users’ data or non-app movements. Due to this, Facebook’s feature i.e. targeted ads will take a supreme hit, which is also a prime source of revenue for the company. In a recent event, the social media giant released a full-page ad in notable newspapers like New York Times and The Wall Street Journal to slam Apple for incorporating restrictions in its iOS 14. Additionally, it stated that this would have a serious impact on small businesses which rely heavily on Facebook’s targeted ads to have a higher reach. Facebook has been continually putting the feature of benefitting small businesses at the forefront since a long time, as it is one of their most sympathetic pitch for making businesses put money in targeted ads.
What triggered this battle?
On the flip side, questions about Apple’s move are prompting questions such as why is Apple so concerned about how users’ data is used? Or, is Apple planning long-term to take over the entire data eco-system in order to make more money?
What it really means for businesses?
1. Small businesses are more dependent on social media than big corporations
In today’s cut throat competitive world, it is non-negotiable for small businesses to have presence on social media. A massive chunk of small businesses rely on social media for achieving their revenue targets. Additionally, with the sudden wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the dependency on social media platforms has increased tremendously as brick-and-mortar businesses moved online. The hard-hit industries during the pandemic such as restaurants, hospitality and retail have higher reliance on social media. According to a poll conducted by Yotpo, more than 50% of the online fashion shoppers are influenced by social media. Around 45% of US diners have reportedly considered visiting a restaurant for the first-time because of a post on social media platform, as per a survey conducted by MGH – a restaurant marketing agency.
2. Smartphones play a crucial role in helping consumers make purchasing decisions
In the last five years, online shopping on smartphones has witnessed a boost in popularity. In addition, the advent of digital wallets, especially during the pandemic, has pushed consumers over the edge to shop more on their phones. According to a report by Forrester, in Southeast Asia, around 62% of online retail sales were driven through smartphones.
Also, targeted ads on smartphones allow businesses to reach young shoppers as approximately 75% of Gen Z shoppers and millennials have heavy smartphone usage for online shopping, as per a survey by Epsilon. By making tracking an ‘opt-in feature’, businesses can expect significant losses as it would get more challenging to reach this set of audience.
3. Mobile gaming companies are expected to incur huge loss
4. Apple will provide its own tracking methods
Apple will be providing alternative tracking methods that will help businesses track users through Facebook, which according to them will be more privacy-oriented. An API by Apple – SkadNetwork, released in 2018, allows businesses to measure an ad campaign’s success. This is how it works – when a user interacts with the ad, the ad network is informed. However, advertisers won’t get access to any device-specific user information or view more details about a user. One the other hand, the general notion in the online ad industry is that the API provides less precision, resulting in generation of less accurate data which in turn, when analysed further with the help of data analytics would generate less meaningful insights.
What will be Facebook’s next move?
Facebook is urging individuals (iPhone and iPad users) to allow the company to track their activities so that they can show them highly personalized ads. According to Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, these privacy changes will stunt the growth of millions of businesses worldwide. The heated war of words between the two tech giants has become even more intense. Facebook is analysing the effects of this change, before Apple implements its for all apps. As a part of this test, Facebook users will be shown prompts explaining why it needs to track their data and ask their permission to allow tracking. The social network giant has also launched a dedicated page on their business website where small companies can speak their mind by incorporating the hashtag #SpeakUpforSmall.
What is Apple’s argument?
According to Apple, the new privacy policies provide users with increased control and transparency for their data. CEO of Apple, Tim Cook in his speech stated that business shouldn’t be built on misleading users, data exploitation, and giving in just because there are no alternatives – this needs reform.
How does it affect people’s day to day lives?
When we talk about the effect of this change on our day-to-day lives, it is subjective. It depends how a person views advertisement. If a person doesn’t rely on Facebook ads for making purchasing decisions, then by choosing to opt-out, he/she can expect the future ads shown to him/her less relevant.
According to Apple, 90% of the iPhones run on either iOS 13 or iOS 14, which explains why a data driven-enterprise like Facebook is going at it hammer and tongs. According to The Harvard Business Review, Facebook’s claims are misleading and businesses will continue to generate high revenues anyway. Facebook still has the freedom to track users – it just needs their permission first. On a positive note, when given a choice, users will prefer to avoid services that ask to collect too much data. This can lead to the generation of a new competitive environment in the social media marketplace as well as spur further innovation in this area.
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