Apple’s privacy rules force marketers to find new ways to target ads
Online shoppers often feel they are being watched. Put an item in your basket but fail to buy it, and it may follow you plaintively around the internet for days. Announce your engagement on social media and you will be hit with adverts for the honeymoon. As you turn 40, expect the attention of elasticated-trouser merchants.
On April 26th Apple, which supplies one-fifth of the world’s smartphones and around half of America’s, introduced a software update that will end much of this snooping. Its latest mobile operating system forces apps to ask users if they want to be tracked. Many will decline. It is the latest privacy move forcing marketers to rethink how they target online ads.
By micro-profiling audiences and monitoring their behaviour, digital-ad platforms claim to solve advertisers’ age-old quandary of not knowing which half of their budget is being wasted. In the past decade digital ads have gone from less than 20% of the global ad market to more than 60%, according to GroupM, the world’s largest media buyer. Even last year, amid the pandemic, the business grew by 9%. As lockdowns ease it is going gangbusters. On April 27th Alphabet, Google’s parent company and the world’s biggest digital-ad platform, reported first-quarter advertising revenues up by 34%, year on year. The next day Facebook, the second-largest, said its own ad sales had grown by 46%.