Apple, Google, and Facebook Making Moves on Privacy

Apple, Google, and Facebook are duking it out on the privacy front. They have been jockeying their position for years, and it is getting interesting. Here are their latest moves:

Google (finally) stops third-party cookie tracking.

A little over a year after Google said that it would phase out third-party cookies on Chrome, it has announced that it will no longer support individual tracking of users across websites.

Google is following Apple and Firefox lead. (Safari has blocked cookies since 2019.) Safari and Firefox had long started blocking third-party cookies, prioritizing user privacy before viable replacement for some use cases existed. Google is making the leap after experimenting on new an ad technology replacement, FLoC (pronounced “flock”).

The technology uses Chrome to analyze users’ browsing histories and place them into FLoC groups with similar browsing habits. Google says that advertisers can expect to see “at least 95% of the conversions per dollar spent when compared to cookie-based advertising” for reaching in-market and affinity audiences.

This update has been in the pipeline for years. Forward-thinking companies have been finding ways to augment their first-party data without Google to provide detailed insight into target preference and eventual conversion. In the end, Advertisers’ ability to track performance will change, and Martech providers hope to ensure that it will not be for the worse.

But what about Android-based mobile apps?

I had assumed that it covered Android apps, but there is a loophole: Google is focusing on cookies-based tracking. There is no language on if (and how) tracking users via Android apps is changing.

With Goggle’s recent $8B deal with Apple, Google’s search app user base will grow… At least until Apple develops its own. Honestly, more and more users are taking control of their data, blocking cookies and trackers. It may be more of a PR move.

Apple see mobile privacy as opening.

Apple is elevating a privacy option for users to share their advertising ID, or “IDFA,” that was previously buried deep in users’ phones when they open an app, making it harder for app advertisers to target ads and track their performance.

Apple’s update will educate iPhone users on how much Facebook tracks and make easier for those users to opt out. Long story short, Facebook warned in a recent earnings report that change is expected to hurt its business as soon as this quarter. Google warned iOS developers who use its ad technology that they may see less revenue as Apple implements its privacy clampdown, that the change will reduce visibility into key metrics that show how ads drive conversions (like app installs and sales) and will affect how advertisers value and bid on ad impressions.

Facebook responds.

Facebook has been preparing for the iPhone UX update since last year. Last December, Facebook launched a print campaign and a website arguing that the change will harm small businesses and online content makers. Apple responded with a cute (and disturbing) white paper to explains how apps tracks a father and daughter during a visit to a park

Now, Facebook is launching a new multi-channel campaign, set to run for 12 weeks. It includes TV spots directed by David Wilson and voiced by Grace Jones. (Here’s one of the spots: ) The takeaway: “The world is full of good ideas. Thanks to personalized ads, small businesses can get theirs found.

When Apple’s changes go into effect, Facebook will begin showing a prompt to encourage users to share their information to “provide a better ads experience.” The campaign is partly designed to spur users to say “yes” to this prompt.

Yet, small businesses do not have the same budgets as medium-sized and enterprise businesses. Will this value-based marketing campaign work?