Apple’s App Tracking Transparency settings do and do not try to protect your privacy. While asking apps to not track you does keep them from collecting and selling data tied to your advertising identity, it doesn’t keep developers from collecting any information about you at all.
These components were introduced in iOS 14.5, which is meant to prevent app-makers from tracking what you do and selling that information to advertisers. Companies like Facebook cried foul when it was introduced, saying that it would hurt their ability to show targeted, personalized ads, and therefore hurt businesses that relied on those ads.
In response to these changes, they are processing pixel conversion events and app events from iOS 14.5 or later devices using Aggregated Event Measurement. This will help support your efforts to preserve user privacy and help you run effective campaigns.
As a result of policy requirements that Apple started implementing with iOS 14, businesses may be limited in their ability to measure the performance of iOS 14 app install campaigns on Facebook. For iOS 14+ app install campaigns, reporting will need to rely on data from Apple's SKAd Network API for mobile app installs and other app conversion events. Similar limitations may apply to the measurement of some web conversion events because of reporting limitations of iOS 14 or later devices.
- Delayed reporting: Real-time reporting is not currently supported, and data may be delayed up to three days. For iOS 14+ app install campaigns, conversion events will be reported based on the time that they are reported to Facebook by the SKAd Network API and not the time they occur.
- No support for breakdowns: For app and web conversions, a delivery and action breakdown, such as age, gender, region, and placement is not currently supported.
Although, developers have taken Apple’s rules to mean that they’re allowed to target ads at cohorts, or groups that people are put into without needing to have unique IDs assigned. The report says that developers like Snap, Inc. have continued collecting some data, including from those who have asked them not to track them, with the justification that anything that could be tied to an individual user would be anonymized and grouped.
Essentially, a similar concept to FLoC, Google’s plan for a post-third-party cookie internet, where individuals are assigned labels describing what kind of things they might buy instead of being tracked individually. Advertisements can still be targeted, without advertisers having to keep track of everything everyone does.
Originators and designers have admitted, though, that they also try to make predictions about what users do after seeing ads based on info they receive from ad companies. They also says that some personalized data, like IP address, location, and screen size, still makes its way to advertisers, to help ensure that ads fit properly and show up in the right language. Extracted from a report that Facebook and many other companies are planning on selling ads using aggregated or anonymized data. While Facebook partially blamed Apple’s policies for it missing its earnings goals last quarter, it’s estimated that the ads affected by the rules only made up 5 percent of its annual ad revenue. In other words, Apple’s ad tracking permissions were never going to destroy Facebook’s ad business.
Nonetheless, there are no privacy benefits to hitting the “Ask app not to track” button - a previous investigation found that Snap, Inc., Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube lost $10 billion combined after the feature was implemented, so there was a market for ads driven by that data. But it’s good to remember that even Apple, a company that prides itself on “standing up” for its users, can’t stop companies from collecting your data with a single switch.