Online advertising, mobile phones and privacy

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Apple has just announced that when iOS 14 is launch it will require advertisers (and others, such as app developers) who want access a user’s IDFA (‘ID For Advertisers’) to obtain opt-in consent.

Currently, mobile advertisers can access the iPhone’s IDFA to track a user’s usage of the apps on their mob (and websites accessed through their mob browser), and then use this information for targeting and attribution purposes.  (Access to the iPhone IDFA is currently permitted under iOS unless you opt-out through Settings >> Privacy >> Advertising >> Limit Ad Tracking).

Instead, with iOS 14, users will be presented with a dialogue box asking them if they agree to a company tracking them across apps and websites.  Presented with such an option, many users may refuse consent and if that happens the impact on the advertising industry will be huge. 

However, Apple’s announcement should not be viewed in isolation.  Instead, it’s part of a growing trend towards giving users greater control of their online and mobile data:

  • Google announced recently that it would be phasing out third party cookies over the next two years in its Chrome browser and that it will automatically delete some of the data it collects about users after 18 months.
  • Brave, the privacy-centric browser, recently announced that it has now passed 15 million monthly active users
  • Safari, Firefox and Edge have all announced their own privacy improvements. 

The trend is clear: users want, and are being given, ever greater control of their online data.

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Summit Therapeutics

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Perpetuum

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Leicester Tigers

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Montreal Associates

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CRU Group