Apple Privacy Vs. Competition: What The Ad Industry Needs To Compute

Despite all the privacy safeguards announced during Apple's most recent Worldwide Developer Conference, the European Commission reportedly charged Apple with stifling competition in its mobile app store. 

The preliminary findings -- reported by the Financial Times -- cite three people with knowledge of its investigation. The report suggests that the iPhone maker fails to adhere to new EU rules designed to open its app store to competition.

Some readers do not seem to care, and some wrote that they are more concerned about the ability to download vetted apps and how Apple protects their privacy than expanding competition even more. 

“I’m bothered that Apple -- who significantly contributed in protecting their users’ privacy and online safety -- is being charged for creating the environment which allowed to protect us users,” one FT reader wrote.



One iOS 18 privacy update allows iPhone users to hide an iPhone’s installed apps and information inside them, such as with banking.

Private Cloud Compute became an important advancement in safeguarding data privacy and security in cloud computing by setting standards.

With all the updates and innovations Apple announced, Katie Madding, chief product officer of analytics platform Adjust, points to AdAttributionKit, a privacy-measurement tool.

The app version builds on the functions in SKAdNetwork (SKAN). The Web version builds on the functions of Private Click Measurement.

Madding says re-engagement has also finally launched new features in AdAttributionKit such as the ability to leverage an “eligible-for-re-engagement flag” -- code that displays an ad, which can be used for deep-linking content through universal links.

Data & Programmatic Insider caught up with Madding to discuss Apple’s privacy announcements. What follows are excerpts from the conversation.

Data & Programmatic Insider: How does AdAttributionKit differ from SKAdNetwork?

Madding:  Apple’s AdAttributionKit and SKAN are both privacy-centered frameworks that enable in-app advertising attribution and user engagement measurement for conversions.

AdAttributionKit works with both the Apple App Store and third-party app stores, while SKAN works specifically with the App Store.

This launch was largely driven as a response to EU regulations requiring Apple to allow new and alternative app stores.

As for interoperability, if an app is integrated with both frameworks, APIs can be called from both, and if both have impressions, Apple's system will sort and decide on a winner. The App AdAttributionKit also provides three conversion windows and three postbacks, which is the same as what you find with SKAN 4.

D&P:  What are the implications for app marketers?

Madding:  AdAttributionKit should not change anything or further impact marketers' ability to attribute and measure their mobile app campaigns; if anything, it gives them a bit more than what was available with previous SKAN functionality. In simple terms, it's SKAN with third-party store functionality. There is a new “marketplace identifier” that will tell marketers which app marketplace a conversion came from. 

Functions for more diverse creatives with Apple’s documentation now exist, stating that AdAttributionKit supports “multiple advertising formats, including static images, videos, audio, and interactive ads.”

Testing on SKAN has proved to be a challenge, but AdAttributionKit comes with a Developer Mode that allows developers to remove timer randomization -- and shorten windows -- so they can get an idea of how things are working far faster than they have in the past with SKAN.

It's also worth mentioning that fingerprinting has been banned since iOS 14, but that has not changed with AdAttributionKit.

D&PI:  Can mobile marketers still run successful, insight-driven campaigns on iOS? Do you have any advice?

Madding:  Absolutely. Mobile marketers have spent the last few years working to update their campaign-measurement strategies for user acquisition and engagement to comply with the latest privacy changes.

With Apple's latest updates, especially with the opening up of third-party stores, marketers have a whole other set of avenues to utilize for growth and user acquisition.

Cross-platform will be key to the future of marketing measurement. Running successful iOS campaigns will be one part of an overall strategy to maximize synergies across various platforms, such as connected television (CTV), PC, console, and beyond.

D&PI: What are some anticipated challenges to look for and how can marketers overcome them?

Madding:  Privacy-centric solutions like SKAN and AdAttributionKit are a very important, and a welcome direction in the industry, but they make data gaps a reality we have to navigate.

Marketers still need to explore different methodologies for filling in the gaps that both SKAN and AdAttributionKit leave due to data masking. Machine learning and AI-driven methodologies like predictive analytics and incremental testing will be key to helping marketers boost signals and make smart choices for growth in a world emphasizing  privacy.

D&PI:  Apple also announced a new Passkey registration API. How does this help marketers and developers? 

Madding:  It makes app access seamless for end users, enabling them to sign into an app or create an account seamlessly and quickly. Passkeys are then saved to their own keychains.

There are several benefits for marketers and developers. Passkeys improves security by reducing phishing and credential theft. It also leads to improved user retention and lower support costs for marketers and developers.

By adopting passkeys, marketers and developers ensure that apps continue to meet security best practices, as well as protect against emerging security trends as the industry moves away from traditional password security toward passwordless authentication.


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