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As privacy ramps up, Apple will ask users if they want personalized ads in App Store


By Kendra Barnett, Associate Editor

September 3, 2021 | 4 min read

Apple will begin prompting users in the App Store with a message asking if they’d like to receive targeted ads, per news first reported by 9to5Mac. With iOS 15, expected to roll out this month, users will be given an option to opt-in to targeting — rather than be automatically opted in, as was previously the case. The move comes after a flurry of updates to the company’s SKAdNetwork designed to give users more say in how their data is used — while allowing advertisers to serve targeted ads in a more privacy-centric way. Here’s what you need to know.

Apple device screen depicting App Store app

Apple is introducing a new opt-in option for targeted advertising in the App Store

What happened

● The update will allegedly ask users if they’d like to opt into personalized advertising on the App Store in iOS 15.

● When users open the App Store while their device is running iOS 15 beta, they are prompted with a pop-up message asking if they’d like to receive personalized ads. The message says that opting in will “help you discover apps, products, and services that are relevant to you.” The message also assures users that, by employing device-generated identifiers, Apple protects user privacy when they enroll.

● While Apple previously automatically collected user data that enabled targeted advertising, the company is shifting its posture after it announced it will require other developers and advertisers to ask users for permission to track them across websites and applications under its new App Tracking Transparency framework.

● The new option would apply only to Apple’s ad network. Apple did not answer a request for further details.

● Apple did not reply to requests for comment.

Why it matters

● The decision adds to a pattern of privacy-focused advertising updates introduced by tech giants including Apple and Google in light of the impending death of the third-party cookie. Without the cookie, advertisers and publishers are seeking new means by which to track user behavior in order to serve them targeted ads.

● The move could also be a response to Apple’s ongoing antitrust complaints. The company is facing complaints in France and India. An antitrust case levied against the tech giant in Japan wrapped up earlier this week. Many such cases concern Apple’s near-monopolization of payment systems and mobile application marketplaces. Some raise concerns about Apple’s use of consumer data and its data sharing and privacy policies.

● Since the company is requiring app developers and advertisers to comply with strict new rules regarding data privacy and advertising, the decision is likely meant to demonstrate to consumers that the tech titan is willing to be subjected to such rules, too.

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