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Marketing Challenges Abound; We Must All Keep up Our Guard

It’s been a chaotic succession of months for marketing folks, as we all try to stay savvy in a changing Universe. Just as we congratulate ourselves on how well we survived the pandemic, a new set of obstacles emerges…most notably, the fresh menace of the long-threatened Apple Privacy Update (ADFA). The firm’s Device Identifier for Advertisers—along with similar app-tracking contraptions—are being provided directly to eager users. When Apple sneezes, the marketing industry reaches for a handkerchief, and is especially true in the areas of marketing tools as they apply to data privacy.

It’s pretty self-evident; more than 45% of the country’s smartphone owners have iPhones. The firm has made a stand of respecting user privacy and control, even if it means bucking the Goliathths that are Social Media or Big Government. We must ask ourselves what this means for us marketing professionals…and for those to whom we market.

Apple’s new update introduces an “App Tracking Transparency” feature that facilitates a marketer’s ability to more easily track between apps and to make such activity more evident to the user. Though the company has long made it easy to identify—and subsequently, change—which apps are tracking which, the Device Identifier for Advertisers features a pop-up window that appear on any (and every) app that tracks anything, or gathers any data. The pop-up permits users to easily monitor the access of personal data according to which app is in use, and it helps identify any other apps to which it might connect.

So what’s with the information being collected?

Both websites and apps can gather a startling amount of information which users have not necessarily permitted. Apps can track a physical locality, and they can serve up targeted ads, taking advantage of this info. Knowledge of location can facilitate recommendations of “attractions near you, whether it be a Thai option for lunch or a clothing store you’ve been “known” to frequent, or perhaps one of its competitors.

Built-in “monitoring pixels” can also follow an individual’s traffic patterns between apps and websites, a phenomenon that explains why you can receive an ad for something you have just perused on Amazon.

What’s a User to do?

The new Device Identifier for Advertisers has a pop-up window that provides the option to either allow tracking, or asking the app not to track. Previously, Apple would permit you to decide which specified app elements you might allow—such as just AFDA tracking, or perhaps sharing of a location—but this feature seems to permit “everything or nothing.” When one allows, one grants total access, but when one denies tracking, Apple suspends accesses to one’s AFDA, which prevents it from harvesting data from other apps. Additionally, it informs apps that one would prefer not being tracked, or having information shared in alternate ways.

Why should a User permit tracking?

Personalized ads are an integral part of the equation when one is tracked online, and they are extremely efficient. Young audiences that have always known online marketing have little patience with messages that are not personalized, but all generations have grown accustomed to being bombarded with advertising and residual content which carries no specific interest. Many savvy customers have come to realize just how personal data is used to manufacture such targeted messages, and often eagerly welcome such activity. One recent customer survey of those aged 18-34 revealed that more than 50% of them have clicked on a personalized ad to initiate a sale; almost 45% of them admitted that they had accessed a personalized ad in recent months.

For many consumers, the privacy issue has little relevance when it comes to the benefits of an app.  In fact, they invite opting-in vs. sharing data when an app makes that request. A significant percentage of consumers willingly allow a location share if it facilitates a mobile function or if it can offer savings on a purchase. This confirms the tenet that receiving a coupon or some other bonus to entice a sale can indeed be a nifty benefit for both consumer and marketer.

And, what of Facebook?

The Social Media giant has traditionally, vehemently opposed App-Tracking Transparency, claiming the development harms the ability of mom-and-pop businesses to market in their communities. Facebook further contends that Apple shouldn’t be allowed to make sweeping decisions without conferring with the marketing industry with regards to policy that portends far-reaching damage to businesses of any size.

The general consensus appears to be that Facebook finds renewed fault when applied to its long-standing Apple rivalry, and the way that such a decision will negatively affect its bottom line. However, Facebook appears to be softening, and willing to listen to reason; in a recent interview, Mark Zuckerberg has allowed that Apple’s updated privacy policy could perhaps even help Facebook—conceding that when marketers are unable to nail down space across existing iOS apps, they could embrace Facebook. The jury is still out on whether these new changes will lure advertisers into expanded marketing on Facebook, but they have attracted Facebook’s attention, and they will continue to do so.

How should marketers regard the privacy update?

Pixel technology called “Fingerprinting,” which was developed partially to react to the “End of the Cookie Era,” is already built into many apps. It collects seemingly innocuous data, such as phone model or screen resolution, from a device and translates it to a language that identifies that unique device. This permits marketers to target ads without identifying who’s placing them…thus skirting any “pesky” data privacy concerns.

So, do the benefits of App Tracking surpass the cost of privacy charges? For the answer to these and other gripping questions concerning modern marketing, we invite you to consult the professionals at inSightful.  We offer decades of data analysis experience in studying emerging trends; we examine in detail those tactics in fashioning a customized marketing approach for which media will work best for an individual company…like yours, and especially yours. You owe it to your business to discover how issues like Consumer Privacy can be developed into an advantage that can help your business. Let us show you how.

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