- “App Tracking Transparency” is a core new feature in Apple’s iOS 14.5 software update.
- App developers must now serve users a pop-up asking for permission to track them.
- Some users’ settings have prevented them from seeing pop-ups. How to change it.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Apple’s iOS 14.5 update, which began rolling out earlier this week, has a bunch of new features, from emoji to new voices for Siri.
Probably the most significant update is the introduction of “App Tracking Transparency”, which requires app developers to operate pop-ups that explicitly ask people to choose to be tracked across other companies̵
However, some people who have updated to iOS 14.5 have not seen any permission pop-ups.
Experts in mobile advertising suggested three possible reasons. Apple did not respond to requests for comment.
1. The ‘allow apps to request tracking’ privacy setting is turned off
The simplest explanation for not yet seeing pop-ups boils down to an option in a user’s privacy settings.
To check if this is the case, go to the Settings app and scroll down to “Privacy”. Clicking on “tracking” displays a screen similar to the image below, with the option to turn “allow apps to request tracking” on or off.
If the power switch is off, apps will be prevented from sharing the device identifier to advertisers or IDFA with other apps and businesses (unless the person has previously given permission for certain apps to track them).
Simon Poulton, vice president of digital intelligence at digital marketing agency Wpromote, said it was most likely that people with this setting were turned off that “limit ad tracking” was turned on in earlier versions of iOS. In his view, the two options are not the same, but are treated as such by Apple.
The previous option “was about ad tracking, disguising IDFA to mitigate ad tracking, but the transparency of app tracking is much broader and there are many factors here – I do not think you can argue that opting out is the same thing,” said Poulton .
“It’s another screw that turns” for players in the mobile advertising market, he said.
2. Some users may not be able to turn on ‘allow apps to request tracking’
Some people have reported that the “allow apps to request tracking” option has been dimmed, making them unable to choose to receive notifications.
Apple says on its support page that this will affect users under 18 or devices with sub-accounts; Apple IDs managed by an educational institution or other organization that restricts tracking; and Apple IDs created within the last three days.
However, Insider found at least two instances of users who did not fall into these categories but who were unable to change the setting. Mobile measurement company AppsFlyer said in a blog post last year that some people were able to reset the switch by logging out of their iCloud accounts and logging in again.
3. Some apps have not yet rolled out the prompt
While many developers started serving up pop-ups for privacy just after the iOS 14.5 update rolled out on Monday, others are waiting a little longer.
“Some brands have decided they will not show the ATT prompt at the first opening,” Poulton said. “You just get a shot” to show the user the pop-up window, he added, and some developers are waiting to see how things shake out before continuing. However, this means that these apps cannot access user IDFAs in the meantime.
“After installing iOS 14.5, I was amazed at how few apps presented me with a pop-up,” said Aaron McKee, chief technology officer at Blis, a placement-focused adtech company that helps advertisers target consumers. “I did not see one in Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Snap, LinkedIn, Uber,
, Deliveroo, TripAdvisor or almost any other game or utility I could find on my phone. “
McKee said that on Thursday, 30% of iOS 14.5 bidding requests arrived across Blis’ network with an IDFA gift, meaning those users had chosen to track. But for the previous version of iOS, 89% had an IDFA attached.
“Some users understand the value exchange that exists between apps and publishers – sharing a little (mostly pseudo-anonymous) data means apps can continue to provide free content,” McKee said. “It also seems that a significant cross-section does not want to be part of this exchange of values, and advertising and adtech companies should ensure that they have a future-proof, confidentiality principle to reach their target audiences.”
Bonus: Users can control whether they choose to receive ‘personal ads’ on Apple services
At the bottom of iOS 14.5’s privacy settings, there’s an “Apple Advertising” page where people can choose whether Apple can deliver “personalized ads” to them in the App Store, Apple News, and Stocks app. Apple is preparing to launch an ad format in the App Store that suggests apps that someone might want to download.
Apple has said it does not track users and that its own apps do not share information for advertising purposes with other apps and companies. However, the fact that Apple’s setting works on an opt-out basis and appears in a separate menu has been a point of contention among the members of the mobile advertising community.
“It’s definitely something the mobile industry is not impressed with,” said Shumel Lais, CEO of analytics platform Appsumer. “But in the end, Apple can get rid of it, as it can display personalized ads using its own attribution solution without having to expose user identifiers to advertisers.”