Facebook hasn’t been shy about expressing its concerns about the changes coming to iOS 14. Last summer, Apple first announced the changes, which include the requirement that apps include a privacy nutrition label to show users what data is collected and how its used, as well as what Apple calls App Tracking Transparency (ATT) which requires apps to request permission before tracking users.
Apple delayed the implementation of the latter to give advertisers and developers time to adjust to the change. Now, however, it should arrive with the next update of iOS.
In the meantime, Facebook has taken its fight public. The company released a pair of ads in three of the most widely-circulated newspapers in the country, accusing Apple of attacking small businesses and the open internet. Mark Zuckerberg also attacked Apple’s motivations during the company’s quarterly earnings report last month, and there are reports that he has been considering filing an antitrust lawsuit against the iPhone maker.
Now, the company has launched a new campaign, including an ad titled “Good Ideas Deserve to be Found.” The new ad is a little hard to follow but is meant to show the value of personalized ads to small businesses. Facebook wants to make it very clear that personalized ads make for a better experience on Facebook and Instagram, which it also owns.
In a blog post, Facebook explains why:
Everyone’s News Feed is unique, which means you’re more likely to see content you want to watch, groups you want to join, creators you want to follow, and products and services you want to buy. This discovery is all powered by personalization, and it’s the not-so-secret sauce that helps people discover products and services that match their needs. It’s also the engine small businesses use to reach their most likely customers, at an affordable price. We believe that’s good for small businesses and for the people that love their products. And we want more people to know why.
There’s a lot to unpack in that statement, but it’s worth noting what Facebook doesn’t say. Facebook never talks about tracking, because it doesn’t want you to think about tracking. It doesn’t want you to think about the fact that the company’s goal is to get you to allow it to track everything you do online so that it can show those personalized ads.
The thing is, that’s not at risk. Apple isn’t ending personalized ads–or even tracking, for that matter. It’s just requiring apps to ask permission first.
This leads to an interesting question. Who is the ad for? Is Facebook hoping Apple will change its mind? That doesn’t seem likely. Tim Cook has already made the company’s position clear.
The company won’t stop Facebook from tracking you, but it will have to ask you for permission first.
Why, then, is Facebook so worried? Because it knows what everyone else already knows–that when given a choice, most people will choose to not allow Facebook to track them.
If that happens to be bad for Facebook’s business, that isn’t Apple’s fault. It just means that Facebook’s business model is based on something most people would prefer it didn’t do.
Except, small businesses can still advertise to their customers. They can still use all of the information Facebook knows about its users–like their gender, age, location, and interests, to show ads. If you’re a small business, none of that changes. The only person that really stands to lose seems to be Facebook.