Brands Reallocate Ad Budgets As Privacy Policies Put Them In A Tailspin

Privacy strategies from Apple to Google to Facebook have caused marketers to reallocate advertising budgets from one platform to another, as each brand tries to determine what works for them and what doesn’t.

“Marketers are looking at new ways to spend like connected TV and contextual targeting,” Analytic Partners CEO Nancy Smith said Monday. “It’s about leveraging their first-party data assets. … Any one-to-one relationship with a customer is gold.”

Brands all spend across a variety of media, but they must reallocate their budgets -- especially if they spend in retargeting, she said.

“More than $200 billion spent in the mobile ad industry will be disrupted,” she said. “We are taking portions of their spend and experimenting in new areas like TikTok, but there are many others like Disney, which is opening a new marketplace.”

Most companies have focused on understanding the Apple Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) and Google Cohorts, but other platforms have been working to secure their own privacy policies.

Facebook rolled out its WhatsApp privacy policy update on Saturday, where users must agree to the new policy to continue using the complete chat app.

Facebook reportedly will not delete the app when the user does not agree to the new terms of service, but it will gradually phase out features to the point that WhatsApp texting and calling might be impossible. 

SensorTower analyzed app downloads from the App Store and Google Play to determine how significantly the WhatsApp privacy policy change will benefit or hurt Facebook. 

SensorTower Store Intelligence data reveals that mobile users flocked to alternatives led by Telegram and Signal following the January announcement.

Worldwide installs of WhatsApp’s mobile app declined 43% YoY between January and April, although the company still outpaced its competitors, reaching approximately 172.3 million, SensorTower wrote in a post.

SensorTower saw adoption rate spikes for Telegram and Signal in January, but their download velocity has since slowed. Telegram reached 63.5 million downloads in January, up 283% YoY from 16.6 million.

Its installs have declined month-over-month since that initial uptick, and its downloads in April saw a slight 3% drop YoY, hitting 26.2 million as compared to nearly 27 million a year earlier, according to the company’s data.

“Before WhatsApp received backlash for its mandatory privacy policy, the mobile app’s first-time installs saw a decline around the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic,” SensorTower wrote in a post. “In April 2020, it saw approximately 55.2 million installs globally, down 28% M/M from 76.5 million in March.”

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