Apple Continues Ad Tracking Crackdown

Apple Continues Ad Tracking Crackdown
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Apple is doubling down on its commitment to privacy, launching a new layer of protection for users as they browse the web.

At this week’s Worldwide Developers Conference, the iPhone-maker revealed a new feature, dubbed ‘Private Relay’, is coming to devices in the near future.

Similar to a VPN, Private Relay will ensure that all traffic leaving a device is encrypted, meaning no one – not even Apple or the network provider – can access it.

Private Relay uses anonymous IP addresses and two separate internet relays to ensure the information remains secure.

“Privacy has been central to our work at Apple from the very beginning,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering.

“Every year, we push ourselves to develop new technology to help users take more control of their data and make informed decisions about whom they share it with. This year’s updates include innovative features that give users deeper insights and more granular control than ever before.”

The launch of Private Relay, of course, follows the recent introduction of the app tracking transparency (ATT) framework, which will now require apps to receive explicit permission from users before collecting data.

Apple also announced Hide My Email, which generates a fake email address for websites that ask you to login or otherwise share your data.

The website will then send any information or newsletters to the fake email address, which then passes on this content to the real email address.

This means that the websites will never know the identity of these users.

What does it mean for advertising?

The introduction of Private Relay is all about stamping out techniques such as digital fingerprinting, which uses identifiers like screen resolution, IP address and operating system to identify users.

While much has been made of the role of third-party cookies in tracking users as they navigate the web, digital fingerprinting has been less of an issue, mainly as it is not as widely used.

Both Google and Apple have previously revealed efforts to curtail fingerprinting, but Private Relay marks one of the most serious attempts to stamp out this practice.

Although the new feature is unlikely to impact advertising as much as the ATT framework, it further demonstrates Apple’s commitment to privacy moving forward.

The Hide My Email feature could have more of an impact, as it will make it harder for these websites to collect data in regard to who opened the email, how long they opened it for, etc.

SEO Advantage CEO Zac Basara said: “The privacy changes announced by Apple at WWDC this week will have a massive impact on our industry. We’ll start to see the ill-prepared ad agencies running these types of ads increasingly struggling to get the same results from their campaigns, as the data on when and where the ads are opened is vital to keeping them effective and proving ROI to clients.

“This news, combined with the recent change to let users block tracking in-app on iOS on a per-app basis, and we’re seeing a big shakeup in how marketers can reach the Apple device audience, which is often a higher-value audience with more disposable income. This in turn will have clients looking to reach this audience begin to re-allocate budgets away from these types of campaigns towards other marketing tactics – whether that’s direct mail, events or organic search/SEO. In marketing, it pays to be flexible and have a wide variety of skills and knowledge – announcements like this from Apple demonstrate why”.

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