It’s no secret that Apple has put the cat among the advertising pigeons by introducing App Tracking Transparency (ATT), where third-party apps on iPhones must obtain users’ permission before tracking their activity across other apps and websites.
Apple enacted ATT in April 2021 upon releasing iOS 14.5, thereby hindering digital advertisers’ attempts to accurately target ads at those iPhone users who would be most inclined to buy from the brands in question. However, what implications does this all have for where your own brand should advertise online?
Are Apple’s moves really about privacy?
Various digital advertising platforms track internet users’ online activity in order to determine which ads to show them. This is why, after spending time on a website about – for example – getting a divorce, you might suddenly see lots of ads for law firms offering you assistance with the divorce process.
You might see those ads on sites running PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising platforms. These sites include Facebook, which has publicly hit out at Apple for its claim that ATT is intended to protect user privacy.
Sir Nick Clegg, the former Liberal Democrat politician and now Vice President of Global Affairs at Facebook’s parent company Meta, recently insisted at the Web Summit technology conference in Lisbon that Apple’s move is “an old-fashioned commercial land grab where they are using their dominant position in one of the leading operating systems to tilt the scales in their favour”.
How various online advertising platforms have been impacted
Whatever Apple’s motives, Meta recently reported that its revenue had been adversely affected by ATT. Meanwhile, competing social media company Snap has shed over 20% of its market value. However, there remains good reason to believe that these developments are far from signalling the beginning of the end of the PPC advertising market.
That’s because two other major players in this field – Google and Twitter – appear to have largely eluded ATT’s impact so far. Google’s parent company Alphabet actually exceeded estimates for its third-quarter financial results, while YouTube revenues were only slightly affected.
“Compared to some of the other digital advertising companies, Google search is less affected by the Apple IDFA changes,” Chris Rossbach of investment partnership J. Stern & Co remarked in an email to MarketWatch. “In addition, many Google users are on computers or on Google’s own Android operating system. These results have highlighted the resilience of Google’s search.”
In its own latest quarterly earnings report, Twitter said its revenue had grown by 37% year-on-year – and “ad engagements”, or user interactions with paid advertising messages, increased by 6% from a year ago. Compared to Facebook, Twitter does not rely as heavily on personal targeting, as Twitter ads are more brand-based than driven by users’ online activity.
All of this suggests that, if you are looking to invest heavily in PPC advertising, Google and Twitter might just be where you will currently get the best bang for your buck – or, ahem, punch for your pound. Our own digital marketing experts can help you along the way, too.