Revenue Losses at Social Media Businesses Attributable to App Tracking Transparency Show a History of Privacy Abuse

Patrick McGee, Financial Times:

Apple’s decision to change the privacy settings of iPhones caused an estimated $9.85bn of revenues to evaporate in the second half of this year at Snap, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, as their advertising businesses were shaken by the new rules.

Apple introduced its App Tracking Transparency policy in April, which forced apps to ask for permission before they tracked the behaviour of users to serve them personalised ads.

Most users have opted out, leaving advertisers in the dark about how to target them. […]

Call this a bit of a counterpoint to the investigation in September finding that a number of well-known apps were effectively ignoring users’ App Tracking Transparency preferences. Some apps do respect users’ choices, and it is apparently costing them.

Another way of framing this is the makers of four big smartphone app families juiced their revenues to the tune of $10 billion in half a year — according to Lotame, an ad tech firm — by tracking users who did not explicitly agree to that. Now, with clear choices, they are opting out, revealing the degree to which ad tech firms rely on anti-privacy defaults.