In a World of Personalization Versus Privacy, Apple Has Made Its Choice


When Apple introduced its new log-in service in June, the company was hailed as a privacy champion. But Apple’s move will limit the amount of information publishers and advertisers can glean from consumers, creating a new walled garden to tackle, writes Zack Dugow, CEO and Founder of Insticator.

When Apple introducedOpens a new window its new log-in service at the Worldwide Developer Conference in June, the company was recognized within the industry as a champion of privacy, given the new ability to block third parties from tracking user activity. While Apple’s move will certainly give its users more flexibility when using mobile apps, it will ultimately limit the amount of information that publishers and advertisers can glean from consumers. By focusing on providing an alternative to Facebook and Google’s log-in services, Apple is just creating a new walled garden for brands to tackle.

Even further, Apple’s new service doesn’t even take into consideration the number of people using their products, who actually value personalized experiences tailored to their interests and are open to sharing their data for said experiences. In a world where personalization cannot truly coexist with privacy, Apple has given the advertising ecosystem an ultimatum that will make it even more difficult for brands to provide engaging experiences and build meaningful relationships with consumers.

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Less Authentic Advertising

Apple’s emboldened stance on privacy means that brands and publishers alike will have less insight into their consumers, which could make advertisements less relevant and authentic and make people’s distrust for advertising grow. Unless consumers suddenly become receptive to answering surveys every single time they visit a new brand’s website, Apple’s move will just give brands significantly less material to work with and understand which of their products are most valuable for which consumers and why.

Brands will find it more difficult to target users based on psychographics if the adoption of the service grows, and it will create even more fragmentation in an ecosystem that needs to make advertisements smarter and better for the modern consumer.

Contextual Advertising Without the Personalization

B2B brands will still be able to leverage contextual advertising, but Apple’s move will remove their ability to home in on customization; for example, a TV software provider can advertise in a trade publication and still reach the same contextually relevant audience, but without personalization, the brand won’t know who is actually interested in their product and service.

Similarly, consumer brands will find data a lot less useful without personalization. If a consumer is using a new game and companies cannot utilize any of their data, B2C brands won’t know what other content, such as other relevant games or apps, their target consumer is interested in engaging with or downloading.

Apple is essentially telling marketers to go back to the drawing board and do more with less visibility into loyal and new customers who matter most for their business. Now, we must take a step back and listen to what consumers actually value before jumping on the bandwagon.

Of course, this isn’t the first instance where Apple has forced the industry to choose between personalization and privacy. PBS President and CEO, Paula Kerger recently saidOpens a new window that Apple’s attempts to limit data sharing on its kid’s app will negatively impact PBS’ ability to verify whether its content and game features are functioning properly. Apple has created more challenges for this major publisher and broadcaster to personalize their apps, which is essentially making them less effective tools.

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Consumers’ Draw to Personalization

According to researchOpens a new window from Salesforce, people aren’t as resistant to data sharing as the industry may signal; their study found that 57 per cent of consumers are open to sharing their personal data with brands in exchange for personalized offers or discounts. Apple already lacks the ability to use data for targeting purposes, so why should they make it even more difficult for marketers to find the consumers who matter most for their brand? After all, personalization has the potential to turn new customers into brand loyalists with repeat purchases.

Given that 80 per cent of consumers are more likely to make a purchase if a brand offers personalized experiences, according to research from Epsilon, marketers will need to be able to overcome these new obstacles if they want to increase their customer base. Apple must commit to finding new opportunities for marketers to personalize content and offerings while still ensuring consent is given by consumers. Otherwise, brands will have no choice but to explore new avenues for personalization.

For example, companies can invest in new market research and conduct consumer surveys to collect more consumer insights. Brands can even work with their engineering and web design teams to optimize their websites for browsers other than Safari and direct consumers to use other browsers, with transparent messaging on why data collected elsewhere benefits the brand.

Apple has made its choice, but today’s most iconic brands can hold them accountable to ensure today’s digital marketing is efficient.