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Facebook-owned Instagram goes on offense against Apple over ad privacy feature


Apple’s privacy advertising feature that will now arrive in early 2021 has become a polarizing change. On one side, privacy advocates praise the upcoming default that will ask users if they’ll allow apps to track them and on the other side, third-party developers and advertisers say the move goes too far and will see ad revenue drop as much as 50%. Now Instagram’s CEO has weighed in and says the company will make a strong case against the change.

Apple originally planned for the advertising privacy feature to roll out with iOS 14 this fall. However, after hearing lots of feedback from third-party developers and advertisers, the company decided to postpone the requirement to get users to opt-in to app and website tracking until spring 2021.

Instagram’s parent Facebook has been outspoken about its concerns over the iOS 14 privacy change, warning that it has seen ad rates 50% lower without personalization. Even though the requirement has been put on hold for the short term, Instagram CEO says it will have to make a concerted effort to push back on the feature (via CNBC).

Mosseri said the company will need to “make our case as strongly as we can” to Apple, the public, policymakers, influencers and academics, but said the company does “own the majority of the market here in the U.S.” as it pertains to smartphones and ”[controls] the ecosystem end-to-end.”

Mosseri elaborated on his concerns about Apple going opt-in for app and website tracking:

“If the ecosystem changes in a way that advertisers can’t really measure their return on investment, that’s really going to be, yes, somewhat problematic for our business, but it’s going to be problematic for all the big ad platforms roughly equally, so I’m not that worried about it over the long run,” he said. “It’s going to be much much more problematic for all the small businesses. There are millions of them out there that rely on us to target customers and to reach those customers. Particularly during a pandemic when they’re hurting.”

Essentially, Mosseri would like to see a middle ground where iOS users get more control, but advertisers aren’t “operating blind.”

“We believe that there’s a way to be really responsible and give people control over their data and transparency into their data but without cutting off our understanding and therefore operating blind,” he said.

However, the Instagram CEO doesn’t sound like he’s expecting anything to change…

But, he said, “I don’t think we have much influence over Apple,” and pointed to the power Apple has as the sole gatekeeper for apps across about 1 billion of its devices in use today.

Time will tell if Apple will stick with the same opt-in approach for advertising tracking or if it will make changes before requiring developers to adhere to the new policy in early 2021.

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