Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Apple’s New Privacy Features Have Further Rattled the Location-Based Ad Market

Seb Joseph, Digiday:

Apple’s iOS 13 update, released in September, includes regular reminders when apps are sucking up a user’s location data. The pop-up gives a user a chance to choose from the following options: allowing data collection at all times, or only when the app is open — or only one time. Four months in, ad tech sources are reporting the result that some observers had predicted: There’s less location data coming from apps.

Right now opt-in rates to share data with apps when they’re not in use are often below 50%, said Benoit Grouchko, who runs the ad tech business Teemo that creates software for apps to collect location data. Three years ago those opt-in rates were closer to 100%, he said. Higher opt-in rates prevailed when people weren’t aware that they even had a choice. Once installed on a phone, many apps would automatically start sharing a person’s location data.

Apple did not dither around with some balance of allowing advertisers to keep collecting location data at will while nominally protecting user privacy. Apple didn’t even block background location access. It just changed iOS so that users must deliberately allow background access, and the system now reminds users when apps actually use that access. That’s all. Yet, these simple changes have made it difficult for companies you’ve never heard of to monetize information you didn’t know you were sharing.

Apple, not coincidentally and unlike some of its competitors, is not a company making its money off personalized advertising.