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Google-backed groups criticize Apple's new warnings on user tracking (reuters.com)
306 points by scarface74 87 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 217 comments



> Apple last week disclosed features in its forthcoming operating system for iPhones and iPads that will require apps to show a pop-up screen before they enable a form of tracking commonly needed to show personalized ads.

Christ almighty I don't think I can take more pop-ups.

They're just cancer. Cookies, newsletters, forced logins, individual folder permissions... how many bullshit popups do I have to deal with per day? It's just popup fatigue.

Pretty much the only popups I ever want to deal with are when apps need access to my private hardware (webcam etc.) or info (location, photos, contacts, etc.). You know, the actually important ones.

Things like cookies, tracking, etc. should be a browser- or OS-wide setting. Asking me individually for every site, for every app, is the absolute worst user experience ever. Sorry but this pattern just has to DIE.

My only hope is that the more that popups proliferate, the likelier there will be legislation against them, requiring system-wide settings instead. Kind of like legislation against unsolicited robocalls.


>Things like cookies, tracking, etc. should be a browser- or OS-wide setting. Asking me individually for every site, for every app, is the absolute worst user experience ever. Sorry but this pattern just has to DIE.

We already have that, the Do Not Track header. Advertising companies ignore it because they're not legally obliged to honor it. Reminder that these companies do not care about you or your user experience and will do anything they can to skirt the law to make an extra buck off you. And we can't rely on the competence of legislators because their answer is always more popups.

However, you do have weapons to defend yourself. My favorite is uMatrix. You can set it up to automatically block cookies from any site you don't have whitelisted. And you can make it only accept first party cookies. You can also have it block javascript, cross origin requests, frames by default. If a site doesn't work without scripts, you can easily enable them temporarily.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Do_Not_Track

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/umatrix/


> Advertising companies ignore it because they're not legally obliged to honor it.

Ironically enough, they don't ignore it. They instead just use it as another bit of entropy to differentiate you from everyone else who doesn't include the DNT header.


> And we can't rely on the competence of legislators because their answer is always more popups.

The European ePrivacy regulation was meant to make DNT legally binding and enabled by default but it has been stuck in the European Council for about 3 (?) years now due to massive pressure from publishers. It's a real shame because it would improve the situation a lot.


Most popups I've seen are either illegal under the laws they were created for (the full-screen privacy ones) or signs that you should leave the website or app (newsletter ones).

The problem is that instead of stopping their abusive behaviour, tracking companies will make whole ranges of services as hard to use as possible and point towards lawmakers when people complain about them. Their flawed business model has collapsed because privacy has finally gotten attention and they're fighting tooth and nail to keep their awful businesses afloat.

There's a perfect setting in most browsers that the popups can already use, called "do-not-track". However, they don't want to use that because it's too easy to turn it on. So instead of listening to your preference, they will show the popup regardless and follow the rules to the most annoying extent of the law.

Really, people should just stop clicking through these goddamn popups and leave the website when they encounter them. The only way to stop this madness is to take away traffic from websites with shitty practices. This includes those damn notification scripts and those auto-playing videos.


https://developer.apple.com/videos/play/wwdc2020/10676/ at 29:50

You can choose not to be asked by any app in the settings.


That "Limit Ad Tracking" setting is already available in iOS, just not enabled by default, and not easily discoverable. People who have already set it will not be bothered, and I suspect a number will set "Limit Ad Tracking" just to avoid the popups.


Unfortunately the ubiquitous cookie consent warnings reek of design-by-government-committe suffers greatly for it.

In theory, what could possibly be wrong with explicitly warning users that they're being tracked with a hidden piece of data stored on their machines? However, in practice this has just led to a proliferation of popups on every website on earth. I'd bet that pretty much everyone just annoyingly clicks through whatever button gets them to the content. I wonder how many could even describe what a cookie is, let alone how it affects their privacy. And at the end of a day, people are perfectly willing to give up a little bit of their privacy in exchange for all the services available for free to the general consumer on the web.

I wish that the powers that be could see that the law has not had its intended effect and has instead just led to a degraded web experience for everyone.


> I wish that the powers that be could see that the law has not had its intended effect and has instead just led to a degraded web experience for everyone.

Wether it was the intended effect or not, it has made it very clear just how scummy advertising companies are.


I’m not sure where you’re from, but as an American who thought it was bad, I couldn’t believe how much worse it was browsing from the .eu.


I wonder if there's any person on planet earth who knowingly agreed to desktop notifications from their browser and makes active use of the feature.


Yep. It enables me to receive email notifications and IM notifications.


All this happened already. I remember the Windows Vista UAC, followed by Windows 7 toned down UAC.


If you use Firefox there's an extension called "I don't care about cookies" that can help cut down on such problems. Leave enduring that sort of nonsense to the Europeans.


Agreed. We need a standard that forbid websites from making popups and setting cookies if the do not track flag is set - alternatively we need all cookies to be marked as optional or required (per the GDPR) and then browsers can handle what to do with them, including just ignoring them completely.


we don't even need a standard, that's what DNT is

we need a law enforcing the standard to have teeth. otherwise it's just yet another standard not doing anything.


Are we still pretending GDPR did more than add another layer of inconvenience to the web? Users don't care and when they do it's because they bought into the fear mongering the privacy crowd keeps perpetuating. No products of value are made by these regulations.


Heh, yeah, it's a pain in the ass. But blame Google and other greedy un-trustworthy mega-corps who data mine.


I see a resurgence in marketing similar to Mad Men: where firms don’t have access to highly personalized data, and eventually, will actually have to be creative, instead of just using algorithms parameterized with user tracking/profile data


i can't imagine how somebody could see the creative process in Mad Men and think that's something to be emulated. It's a bunch of privileged rich people (ad execs) coming up with ideas that they think are clever, and the only criteria for whether or not those ideas are good is if other privileged rich people (client company execs) agree.

There's no objective measures of success, just a bunch of people patting each other on the back because they all see the world the same way.


I'm pretty sure there is an "objective measure of success" in the most plainly obvious way possible -- sales. Versus the bullshitty stats like impressions or accidental click-throughs that dominate online advertising.


If you're only running one campaign in one channel, and your product hasn't improved, and the competition's product and marketing hasn't changed, and there are no external events that will trigger a change in demand, then i suppose you could take sales as a measure of success.


The only true metric that motivates marketing companies is ad sales. As another commenter mentions, the creative department in Mad Men existed mostly to help sell ads rather than the the products in the ads. I think advertising metrics and targeting serve a similar role today.


Marketing departments want metrics that justify ad budgets and thus the Marketing department's budget. Ad metrics that show ads are ineffective, while valuable to the business, run counter to the Marketing department's incentives, and are thus suppressed.

In a rational company, ad attribution, or aggregate-level analysis using techniques like Vector Autoregression (VAR) should be owned by the CFO to avoid that conflict of interest, as shown in this article:

https://thecorrespondent.com/100/the-new-dot-com-bubble-is-h...


“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”


It's remarkably difficult to measure the actual impact of that sort of brand-building marketing. And was basically impossible in the timeframe that Mad Men was set; they just didn't have the observability.


In the second episode the show, one of the copy writers literally states that all the firm's value is in its ad-placement team (radio, print, billboards, soon television), and the copy is just thrown in as gift-wrapping.


Yes all the value is there but it's not the way you think it is (in the internet age)

Think how much money there was (and is) in liasing ad agencies with Media buying/planning (this is the department's name)

Think how well the companies will treat you if you, let's say, want to place an ad in the Superbowl, or at a TV prime-time slot

The ad agencies are the true customers of the TV companies. Who do you think gets all the pampering (and possibly kickbacks)?


See Computer Shopper of the mid 90s.


The future of marketing is already here, and it's influencer marketing, as well as more subtle forms of manipulation on social media.

I guess you could call it creative. But it's also even more insidious and dishonest.


On reddit there more and more companies that manipulate threads in their favors.

On niche porn subreddits, the feeds are now invaded by profiles with links to onlyfans pages. They are sneaky because they verify their accounts with photoshopped pictures.


Let's just start charging for services


> The group of European marketing firms said the pop-up warning and the limited ability to customize it still carries “a high risk of user refusal.”

Good. Sounds like the warning will work.


My thoughts exactly: refusal is the whole point.


> Sixteen marketing associations, some of which are backed by Facebook Inc (FB.O) and Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google, faulted Apple for not adhering to an ad-industry system for seeking user consent under European privacy rules. Apps will now need to ask for permission twice, increasing the risk users will refuse, the associations argued.

I was taken aback when I read that sixteen(!) agencies had banded together, including collusion from Google and Facebook.

This starkly reminded me of Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations (book I chapter X):

> People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible, indeed, to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty and justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies, much less to render them necessary. > > A regulation which obliges all those of the same trade in a particular town to enter their names and places of abode in a public register, facilitates such assemblies. It connects individuals who might never otherwise be known to one another, and gives every man of the trade a direction where to find every other man of it. > > A regulation which enables those of the same trade to tax themselves, in order to provide for their poor, their sick, their widows and orphans, by giving them a common interest to manage, renders such assemblies necessary.

In other words, legal rules meant to restrain corporations' behavior instead often facilitate their collusion, which almost always results in a "conspiracy against the public."

Apple is a bit unique in this regard, as their current brand positioning entirely removes their incentive for collusion. But only as long as the benefits to employing a pro-privacy-and-security brand posture are greater than the benefits it might enjoy from hoovering up as much data as it's rivals in Mountain View and Menlo Park.


The crazy thing is some people will use this passage to justify not having regulations at all, because "regulating them will only make them conspire together against everyone!", when in fact the main reason Smith connects the two is that without regulation, the competitors (who are described as local artisans, not giant international corporations) might otherwise not know of one another's existence and would never talk to each other about shared concerns. Which was true when it was written, not so much now. Now that they can trivially find each other and conspire against consumers all they like, it's no longer an argument against regulation. Nowadays it's more useful as an argument against industry consortiums, standards bodies, professional organizations, and certifications, but I don't think of any of those things as being net negatives.

If we ever find ourselves in a situation where humanity collectively is frightened to tell some industry that it can't do something for fear that that industry would retaliate by conspiring to do something even worse to us behind our backs, that's not an argument against regulation, that's an argument against the whole industry.


I wouldn't cast it quite so simply. Smith and the classical liberal tradition he represented would likely be skeptical of regulations by default, but would evaluate them based on costs and benefits.

You make an excellent point about Smith's treatment of firms as local artisans rather than large corporations. Incidentally, he uses the word corporation a paragraph below what I pasted, but it most likely refers to guilds or firms with monopolies, and not our modern idea of corporate bodies.

That said, I tend to think of Coase as the sort of successor to Adam Smith's thinking. I find it not coincidental that Coase formulated the modern theory of the firm that economics still subscribes to, as well as extrapolating transaction costs into the realms of legal disputes and the administrative state. Coase himself was also skeptical of government regulation, not as a matter of ideology or principle (in fact, he said that in principle, many regulations could be effective, though he did also argue reductio ad absurdum that the state should regulate speech as vigorously as products [0]), but as a matter of empirical investigation [1].

[0] https://web.ntpu.edu.tw/~guan/courses/Coase74.pdf [1] https://reason.com/1997/01/01/looking-for-results/


> collusion from Google and Facebook

Is there a good reason to believe that Google or Facebook are involved? Seems like it may be a tenuous connection given the article's vagueness: "some" of 16 unnamed "associations" are "backed" by Google/Facebook, according to a source we know nothing about.


Yes, the good reasons to believe this are (1) the article states it (news reports tend to be awful, but in my opinion we should at least give prima facie credence to their claims unless a knowledgeable party disputes them) and (2) it entirely aligns with Facebook's/Google's interests to engage in this kind of support/collusion.


I'm not suggesting that Reuters is lying; I would trust them if they claimed to have evidence of Google's/Facebook's involvement. I'm just complaining about their weasel words like "backed", which could be interpreted in a variety of ways.


> Apps will now need to ask for permission twice, increasing the risk users will refuse, the associations argued.

Oh noes!


Do you seriously think that all business decisions are based on economic greed? Some people do have values and morality and integrity.


I do think they are on any company that is not majority-owned by someone that cares.

Morality and integrity are acceptable in large companies so long as they can bring some benefit. Otherwise they somehow always seem to find a way to justify doing even the most immorally-seeming stuff (like exploiting workers in third-world-country mines, selling weapons to dictators and so on).

What's more important: why wouldn't it be like this? Why would a top-level exec leave money on the table for moral reasons? How would they sell that to their stakeholders?


No, the space of business decisions is not reducible to greediness, and "greed" itself is a bit underspecified.


I wish the Safari content blocking API allowed cookies to be blocked. I'd block cookies for 99% of sites I visit, allowing them only for the handful of sites to which I login.

I'd suggest Safari could even make cookies require getting user permission, the same way location access needs to be granted. "Allow, allow for 24 hours, deny." It could default deny except for sites to which it has a saved password which could default allow.


Safari started blocking third party cookies by default earlier this year.

https://www.engadget.com/2020-03-24-safari-blocks-all-third-...

Previously, you had to flip a switch in the settings.


I want to block even first-party cookies. And the third-party cookie logic prevents Fidelity's Full View from working correctly, so I have to disable it to use that feature of their site.


> Safari could even make cookies require getting user permission

Ode to browsers of the 90s


The best way of working I found for cookies is to automatically delete them a short period of time after the website is closed. And keep a whitelist for trusted websites you want to stay connected to.

It's trivial on desktop using an extension [1], but not yet on iOS.

[1] https://github.com/Lusito/forget-me-not


It already does that! 1Blocker lets you specify a list of websites for which cookies won't be sent in the request headers. So I suppose the API indeed supports this feature.


Holy crap, you're right:

https://developer.apple.com/documentation/safariservices/cre...

https://kb.adguard.com/en/general/how-to-create-your-own-ad-...

(I switched from 1Blocker to Adguard because 1Blocker wasn't working very well for me.)


It's cool to conciously see the death of an industry and watch as marketing firms fail to migrate away from traditional ads.

You can whinge and whine, but progress stops for nobody.

It's also great to see Apple building this into iOS, definitely a highlight of WWDC, for me. I often see the location indicator come on and wonder what else I'm not seeing.


There seem to be two conflicting lines of thought about the future of advertising.

1) Companies are learning that non-online advertising is not very worthwhile and so are reducing the resources allocated to, say, network TV ads. This has already happened to a large extent to print and radio advertising. This suggests that the future of online advertising is bright.

2) Companies are learning that online advertising is not very worthwhile. They are learning that clicks are a bad metric, that online ads target people poorly, and that customers dislike online ads. This suggests that the future of online advertising is dim.

I'm curious as to what people make of these two positions. Are companies just going to spend less on ads in general?


3) Companies are learning that Ads that don't appear to be Ads, which also happen to reinforce customers' existing belief system, is a great way to lower their emotional guard and inject a positive product injection. The future of Native Advertising [1] is bright. So many examples already... [2]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Native_advertising

[2] https://old.reddit.com/r/HailCorporate/top/?sort=top&t=year


Add to that all kinds of affiliate marketing being passed off as legitimate recommendations.

This comment was sponsored by Skillshare


User targeted advertising maybe moves the needle 4%. The reason people believe it's so key is that adtech companies need businesses to believe it's vital since they're the only companies with enough user data to do it. That 4% figure came from an independent study, I believe a Google-backed study claimed it had a 50% impact.

Remove that and smaller ad companies can sell ads based on the content they're displayed next to. A reasonable "targeting" method which doesn't require tracking users at all. Sites could partner directly with advertisers for similar effectiveness at a drastically lower price.


>Are companies just going to spend less on ads in general?

That's unlikely. Spending on advertising doesn't appear to change much as a share of GDP:

https://www.galbithink.org/ad-spending.htm


Probably spend differently. Because both of your points are kind of true: the future is online, but money spent up to now hasn't necessarily got results. Pure wild speculation, but I suspect that some of the metrics that drove advertising AND content onto the big beasts of the current Internet were gamed or fraudulent - it will be interesting to see if any big scandals happen.


I sure hope so! But in all seriousness I don't think those two points conflict per se; they both say, "...advertising is not very worthwhile..." which kind of nails what's going on. The ground under our feet has changed. The audience by-and-large is fragmented, jaded, fickle, fed up, and has no money.

Fed up for the last 5 years hearing about scandal after scandal, outrage after outrage...

Fragmented for about the last 5-10 years, ever since we figured out the "long tail" and how to cater to everybody's unique interests. There is no longer anything approximating a place where everybody goes/is; hence there's not even a consensus anymore about what reality is, which is a related & tangential issue.

Has no money, well that's more of a continuum... either you do or you don't, but every year a larger number of people don't, and are too broke to be in the market for whatever product.

Jaded with advertising in general ever since probably the Boomers were in their 20s, and moreso when Gen X were teenagers.

Jaded with online advertising ever since the 90s when it became clear ads were going to follow us into what everybody thought was going to be a new online world.

Fickle since the dawn of time.


this has always been the problem with advertising.

the old chestnut goes, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half”.


Progress ? There's money to be made and this looks like posturing and story telling to justify tapping in to another revenue stream on their platform.


This is merely a “strategy credit”. Apple makes almost all of its money by people giving them money directly and them giving you stuff. They can afford to be privacy focused.

If you’re okay with cheap, unpolished products where you are constantly being tracked and getting advertised to, buy a Google product. If you want products where you give the company money and they give you stuff - buy Apple.


>Apple makes almost all of its money by people giving them money directly and them giving you stuff.

The story used to be "they are making money on hardware", then when that peaked it became "they are making money on services", once they peak in that market it's going to be "they are monitizing the content delivered through the ecosystem to provide a curated and safe experience" - it's all about showing growth an keeping stock prices.


They have been making money off of curated content that you use with their hardware since 2003 when they introduced the iTunes Music Store. I’m still using my same Apple ID to purchase content from Apple that I used 17 years ago.

But that still doesn’t change the equation.

I give Apple money == they give me stuff.


> The story used to be "they are making money on hardware", then when that peaked it became "they are making money on services",

The story is still that they're making money on hardware; over 80% of their revenue (and potentially more of their profits; profit margin on the music stuff in particular can't be great).



Ah, was looking at data for a different quarter. Probably varies during the year, though; I assume hardware share peaks in Q4.


cheap, unpolished products where you are constantly being tracked and getting advertised to

This is a bit of an old meme, it reminds me of the PC vs Mac wars back in the pre-Jobs-return era. Or Ford vs Chevy. It's really impressive how strongly companies have convinces us to associate our identities with their brands.


Android is still a mess of an ecosystem where most OEMs bundle their own crapware, most don’t provide updates for more than a couple of years if at all.

I had the displeasure of using Google Search without an ad block for the first time in awhile. God it’s awful. Not to mention AMP pages being the default for many popular new sites when linking from Google on mobile.

GoogleTV/Android TV/Chromecast are all worse than Apple TV and Roku

Give me Office 365 over GSuite any day on either mobile or desktop.

No one had to convince me about Google’d brands. Google’s entire reason for existing is an advertising operation. 90% of their profit comes from advertising.


And along come lineage and f-droid, saving you from whatever google are the chinese try to throw at you.


If you want products where you give the company money and they give you stuff - buy Apple.

The "stuff" tends to come with artificial limitations so that in order to use it effectively I have to give Apple even more money.


Which product comes with “artificial limitations” that force you to give Apple more money?


For iPhones, Lightning rather than USB-C, no headphone jacks, and inability to use software outside of the app store. For Macs, lack of post-purchase expandability, and it's getting gradually more difficult to run non-store software.

Yes, you can come up with arguments why these things are actually good for users. But coincidentally the workarounds always end up with more revenue for Apple: AirPods, 30% commission on apps, inflated BTO upgrade prices...


> and inability to use software outside of the app store

Google wants browsers to be like OSes, because they can't directly compete with desktop OSes. This concept is incompatible with security and privacy, so Google's interests are more harmful (they fund Mozilla).

Granular permissions don't solve the privacy issue, because denying them contributes to fingerprinting. Also, JIT compilers violate W^X.


- you can buy extra lightning cables from anywhere at about the same price as usb c cables.

- most modern high end cell phones aren’t coming with headphone jacks anymore. All iPhones come with a headphones

- most high end laptops also don’t have internal expandability anymore.

-you also don’t have to buy AirPods. You can buy any Bluetooth headphones

- Google also charges the same 30% for apps.

- the default is allow signed apps. Not apps from the store.


- but then you have lightning cables and usb c cables. Yet another connector that's incompatible with everything else!

- [citation needed]. High end android phones with headphone do exist, so you definitely have the choice to support those vendors.

- most

- bluetooth

- f-droid, saving the day yet again.

- the default. You can just enable that without having to do anything shady at all.


By making it harder to monetize ads? Ok.


By replacing competitors with their own "tracking free" ad tech


Which by definition makes it harder to monetize ads.


I found it a bit ironic that Apple didn't require users to grant permission to its own measurement tool, "because it is engineered to not track users".

I don't know the details but I am guess it is still accesses the same numeric id and "trusting" that Apple is doing the right thing behind the scenes, i.e., only storing aggregate information is still required.


Sounds perfectly reasonable. Apple only cares about the data in aggregate. They don’t need to track individual users. An advertiser, on the other hand, wants to know your age, sex, location and what you hard for breakfast.


This is an advertiser tool. It is used by app developers to track their advertising campaigns that lead to app installs.

I wouldn't be surprised if they still break down information by age, sex, and location as long as there are enough anonymous people in each group.

I would argue that this is only "perfectly reasonable" if you think anonymous aggregate logging solutions is a reasonable way to track user behavior, or if you have such trust in Apple to do the right thing, that you are willing to grant them an exception.


> Apple engineers also said last week the company will bolster a free Apple-made tool that uses anonymous, aggregated data to measure whether advertising campaigns are working and that will not trigger the pop-up. > “Because it’s engineered to not track users, there’s no need to request permission to track,” Brandon Van Ryswyk, an Apple privacy engineer, said in a video session explaining the measurement tool to developers.

There it is. Unless there’s a process that other companies can follow to certify that their solutions don’t track users and get same treatment, then in the end it’s about Apple trying to force themselves as player in the ads business.

It’s well known playbook as they’re similarly forcing themselves into identity business, with new logging requirements.


Apple is incentivizing ad networks to use SKAdNetwork [1], an API that lets you do attribution while preserving privacy. Guaranteeing that necessarily means they have to intermediate the relationship between users, apps and ad networks. They also proposed a similar API for the web [2].

[1] https://developer.apple.com/documentation/storekit/skadnetwo...

[2] https://webkit.org/blog/8943/privacy-preserving-ad-click-att...


Forcing themselves into the identity business? By giving it away for free? What kind of business it that?

I guess it’s the same as trying to get in the ads business by making ads less valuable?


We are way past the argument that “free” => “no value to business”


Profits are value to business. Profits require revenues.

We are well passed the second internet bubble where Instagram et al can get billion dollar valuations on market share alone. There needs to be a business plan to generate revenues and profits.

So what us Apples business plan for identity? If it’s to add value to iOS and MacOS by providing convenient privacy secure logins to customers, I hardly see that as forcing themselves into the business.


Lock-in. If you move off iOS but are using Apple as the identity provider for third party spots, how painful is migrating your accounts going to be? How well do you think Apple will support the use case of non-Apple device users signing in with Apple? Might as well buy another Apple device when the current one breaks.

There's nothing wrong with Apple trying to increase the stickiness of their platforms, if there's a legit argument to be made that it also improves user experience. The part I find distasteful is the requirement for iOS apps to give preferential treatment to Apple. And honestly, if they were only doing doing this to improve UX, I don't think they would be this heavy handed. Somebody with decision making power wants to make sure that iOS users are selecting that option no matter what.


> I guess it’s the same as trying to get in the ads business by making ads less valuable?

If that damage your competitors more than it damages you, might that be of some value? Not saying that’s Apple is doing, just pointing that could be a thing.


It’s easy to see what Apple is doing here it’s what they’ve always been doing increasing privacy protections for their users to add value to their platform and sell more iPhones and Macs.

Apple is shown repeatedly they don’t care about the advertising market and would gladly burn their offerings to the ground if they impeded their privacy efforts one iota.


Please understand that Apple is not in love with their user's privacy, they are in love with money and selling to markets.

. Why else would Apple set Google as the default search engine on iOS? They get paid (a lot!) by Google to be the default.

. They sold out to Chinese citizens by allowing their data centers to be read by their authoritarian government.

. Apple dropped plans to let iPhone users fully encrypt backups of their devices in the company’s iCloud service after the FBI complained that the move would harm investigations.

Still think Apple loves privacy more than anything else?


Which as a consumer is exactly why I will continue giving them my money. The sooner targeted online advertising burns to the ground, the better, as far as I’m concerned.


> Forcing themselves into the identity business? By giving it away for free?

The price has nothing to do with the "forcing" part, unsure why you are guessing that's what is being referred to. The word "forcing" is clear enough on its own.


“Forcing” only makes sense in the usage by a butt hurt competitor seeking to monopolize the market. For consumers it’s “opening” the market with a superior safer solution.


>free Apple-made tool

I wouldn't be surprised if it requires macOS to work and a yearly paid license to use that free tool.


> It’s well known playbook

The playbook is much more broad and is basically "we are privileged on our platform _and_ we unavoidably restrict the lesser privileged". Many don't like this (myself included) and many do. Simply put, where you reasonably can, choose the platform that has the restrictions you can accept or work around.


It’s funny too because any ad attribution methodology that’s not tracking users is going to suffer so much confounding to render it utterly useless. Of course it will show you Big Lift! but the reality is you could have negative lift and the attribution methodology won’t be capable of detecting it or accounting for necessary confounders to isolate the effect of the ad from other effects.

In essence, if you’re not tracking user-level behavior, then you should not be caring about any statistical attribution methodology at all, just use something different entirely, based on simple aggregates or top line metrics like revenue without modeling return on ad spend at all.

Anything that tries to do attribution on different cohorts, like demographic slices, etc., without controlling for individual level confounders, is complete misleading hot garbage.

So these customers of Apple’s sexy new ad attribution are probably paying a big premium to get ripped off with useless data. Such a system categorically can’t exist (and shouldn’t be desired) in cases where you don’t want to permit individual level tracking.


If it is going to be utterly useless as easily as you claim, then it should be easy for the sixteen advertising agencies to prove that it will be utterly useless and that advertisers should push back against Apple and their new warning.


You have an unfortunate view that the ad attribution business is predicated on rational choices by advertisers.

It’s more similar to investment management business. You could likewise say it’ll be easy for competitors to prove a firm is having bad quarters of portfolio underperformance, yet firms with bad track records consistently keep getting new business. Why is that?

The underlying business proposition is more like consulting and blame protection. You can always fire your ad attribution partner and claim their “number crunching” was bogus to save your own ass. You don’t pay them to give you actionable ad strategy or performance measurement, just like eg the investment board of a pension fund doesn’t hire an investment manager to actually get higher returns.

You pay them to make it look like you, the board member or the ad account manager, did all you could and any failings are down to uncontrollable poor performance of your vendor, which you then look like the good guy for firing, or look like the visionary for jumping ship to sexy AI solutions then jumping ship back to “classic” solutions when the AI solutions predictably don’t work. You do this for a while collecting bonuses and protecting your job, at the massive expense of the pension fund or advertising campaigns you are supposed to oversee, then you quit or get fired and play musical chairs to fail up into the same role at the next place.

In many companies that run advertising, the ultimate choice of what ad spend to pursue is an unbelievably political shitstorm. There are arguments for spending on generic brand awareness (which has no goals related to attribution at all) vs ambitious “creative” ads & extravagance like Super Bowl ads, vs scientific ad experiments on defined cohorts of users.

Nobody knows about (or gives a shit about) actually tracking the performance of all this beyond doing a bunch of headless chicken scrambling around to make some spreadsheets and slide decks to keep a job or argue for a bonus.

To the executives a layer up it’s either a big cocktail party of all the different styles of pursuing ads and business is good and they don’t really care, or else it’s a needless cost center when business is bad and they give grain offerings to the advertising gods to decide what to cut.

But nobody is seriously pursuing quant advertising. That is all just fluff branding. And this play by Apple is more of the same, just branding for professional services through using their anti-competitive moats around iOS.


I am confused. Advertising either works sufficiently well or it doesn’t. If it does work sufficiently well, then that means that it brings in more money than it costs. If targeted advertising works better than generic advertising, then targeted advertising brings in more than generic advertising. And vice versa. If advertising using privacy-protecting statistical methods works just as well, then again it should show up in the numbers.


You definitely don’t understand causal inference of ad attribution if this is what you think.

I’ll give an example from a real experience I worked on before. A client was a large haircut chain and they gave us a data set of individuals that had received a specific ad campaign from them via a loyalty program (so it had a variety of demographic and customer history data).

When we used the transactions data on this cohort to measure specific lift in the ad campaign, it was hugely negative - we thought there must be some kind of bug in the code, stressed out late nights coding and sanity checking everything and finding no issues that could explain it.

Our internal managers said we cannot go back to the client and ask for details or anything until we fix the negative lift because “negative lift isn’t actually possible in real advertising.” (Literal quote from an experienced manager in a well-known advertising analytics firm - I even showed him plenty of research out of Facebook, Google and academia disproving it, but it was totally taboo to mention negative lift).

Finally after some agonizing weeks we had no choice but to go back to the client and ask them to explain the full mechanics of their ad delivery, how people were targeted, to see if there was some bias or something we had no way to account for.

And of course - they told us all these individuals had been given a physical coupon as they were leaving from a haircut. OMG! The physical mechanics of a haircut means you are obviously not coming back for another one for say 3-4 weeks on average, and you also won’t have perfect customer retention, so basically there is no way this kind of campaign can produce positive lift unless you build a statistical model that successfully controls for the built in customer churn and the mechanical delay period before the ad treatment could possibly causally effect people’s next haircut choice.

This is just a drop in the bucket of strange things advertisers do. Often they won’t tell you targeting details like this, because they believe their method of targeting (even as simple as a coupon for loyalty rewards members) is some type of proprietary technique. This gets really really bad with firms that run their own digital advertising. If they are targeting “upper income people who just bought a BMW” via The Trade Desk, that’ll hugely skew any attribution modeling if they refuse to tell you they did that. A ton of the quant work of ad attribution is trying to automatically control for as many of these glaring omissions from the client as you can, since they often lie, refuse to tell you, or are actually wrong about the targeting they believed they used.

In short, measuring whether it was the ad’s effect that led to that macro increase or decrease in revenue is no easier than the general problem of causal inference from non-random trial data lacking clean splits, and often is much harder.


Perhaps for a simpler example: imagine you start an ad campaign on the same exact day the government issues a huge stimulus check. You see a big increase of sales. Is it because the ad did a good job of causally impacting people to choose your brand? Or is it because the world changed underneath your feet and suddenly lots of people with pre-existing demand had more money? Maybe your ad even had a negative effect because more people were willing to spend the stimulus check on your product, but they were turned off by the ad - so your revenue went way up but the ad actually lost you money.

This is about the simplest type of confounding example you’ll see - real world ad attribution is far messier, with 10 or 15 of these issues all intermixing, some of which you have measured data to possibly use as a control, some of which you don’t.

Your client might not even have done any control group at all. They might just say, “we sent this ad to absolutely everyone, how did it perform compared to a hypothetical where we didn’t send it at all?”


I see what you are saying: that there are too many confounding variables involved and it is not as simple as A implies B. I’d then argue the same thing about attribution then though: a company like Google or Facebook might be measuring many variables for a given user across however many surfaces they can possibly reach, but some set of offline variables that are invisible / unknowable from their vantage point might be the actual cause of a given conversion. If this is indeed the case, then measuring aggregate advertising metrics should be sufficient enough to inform ad spend in the long run.


Are they moving into ads as the hardware business dries up for them? In my personal experience, many people don't replace their phones as often as they did, say, 10 years ago. A similar story played out earlier with laptops. There's no obvious new hardware category for Apple to pivot into so maybe software is their next play.


They tried before from 2010-2016 [1]. I do think this is their long term play — getting credit card transaction data and shutting others out.

[1] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/IAd


They don’t have any way to access credit card data unless you have an Apple credit card. Even then, I don’t think Goldman Sachs share the data with them.


>There's no obvious new hardware category for Apple to pivot into

Was it obvious that AirPods would become a $4Bn revenue stream, or that Watch would take the lion’s share of the watch market despite having battery life of <1 day, or that Apple computer would move into regulator approved consumer heart monitoring?

Rumours of Apple TV and Apple Car and an Apple AR gadget have been around a long time.


Yes they are. Ads in Apstore and News.


They’re selling watches, they just released the iPhone SE which competes with mid-range Android phones, and they have new revenues from their rent seeking activities on App Store and Apple Pay. In addition, their new line of Mac ARM will remove the Intel tax. I think they’ll do just fine without becoming another advertisement company.


>There's no obvious new hardware category for Apple to pivot into so maybe software is their next play.

Lets revisit this comment in a year or two when they release their AR and VR products.


You have looked at their latest earnings haven’t you?


Not software but services.


saying their hardware business is "drying up" is some pretty extreme hyperbole


> Sixteen marketing associations, some of which are backed by Facebook Inc (FB.O) and Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google, faulted Apple for not adhering to an ad-industry system for seeking user consent under European privacy rules.

How did this turn into "Google-backed groups"?! Where's Facebook in the title? Is there no attempt at unbiased reporting anymore?


The reporting is just fine, since it discloses both groups. The title is click-bait, but that’s the reality of the news/youtube/etc. industry if you want views. It would have been equally click-baity if the title had said “Facebook-backed groups”, yet equally false (and true).

There’s also ad agencies not backed by Facebook or Google, but they’re not in the title either.


> There’s also ad agencies not backed by Facebook or Google, but they’re not in the title either.

Yes, and this is why the reporting is dishonest - it's feels like it's there to smear one company in the title instead of actually disclosing to us who the people are.


I don’t think it is dishonest - it is more interesting that Google is anti-privacy, everyone already knows this about facebook. Additionally Google is nearly 2x the size of facebook so it takes precedence. You can’t disclose everything in a headline so you lead with what you can.


It is very dishonest. Trying to make this into Apple vs Google creates this false reality that only movies get away with.

Nearly two times the size so we can make up a story of selected truths?


Should the headline have disclosed every single tie every person associated with each organization has? No that would be absurd - you can’t disclose the nuance of a story in a headline so you disclose the most interesting thing. Nothing in the headline was false or misleading - just because the groups have other ties too doesn’t mean the headline has to list every one of them.


Since when did the HN crowd start being apologists for clickbait and purposeful omission?


Clickbait is simply the new normal. I hate it, but it's simply the case. You see it on news articles, YouTube video titles, and everything else where money and views are intertwined.

And why is it done? Because it has been proven to work. They make more money with clickbait titles.

Personally, it's simply a windmill I'm no longer willing to tilt against.

And it appears that nothing was purposefully omitted from the article itself, so I'm definitely not willing to tilt against this.


I think what's more interesting about Google backing it over Facebook, is that it implies that Android will potentially not follow suit.


Moreover, there's no mention of the names of any organizations, nor could I find the press release that the quotes were taken from.


Sounds like a lovely feature. Who are these groups going to complain to and how on earth how are they going to frame it lol.


Given the tobacco industry fought to have warnings and packaging restrictions upon their products, I'm sure they created a whole play-book of things to try, though note that they eventually failed. Whilst applications are not going to give you cancer, you could fairly equate the analogy within the digital World and your personal details and digital persona being eroded away via cancerous applications.

Gets down to giving the consumer a fair and informed choice, so however they frame this - I'm sure it will only serve Apple well. Indeed, any EU investigations into Apple would probably see this move in good light and with the competition contrasting it in a different light, I don't think Apple could of asked for anything better to stash into any legal war chest with the EU when it comes to showing they are good guys and looking after consumers better than others - least that is how they can frame it.


“Foxes complain about Apple improving hen house security”. As a user, Google and their advertiser puppets can go whistle.


The only caveat i'll add is Apple is providing ad software that doesn't trigger the double verification. This can be seen either as a push to force people to respect privacy(as their software does), or a push to control a larger share of the ad market (as the foxes here i'm sure believe)


It does not pass the smell test though: Apple has nothing to gain from its non-existent advertising arm, whilst advertisers have a lot to lose if random users can opt out. I have no doubt Apple's solution needs improving and will be circumvented, but I am not going to lament that better is not perfect.


I don’t love them, but I’m ok with ads. I’m not ok with tracking/spyware/modern adtech.


> The group of European marketing firms said the pop-up warning and the limited ability to customize it still carries “a high risk of user refusal.”

If you’re doing something and you know users are going to refuse to let you do it if they have the choice, don’t do it. Apple will give them a choice soon enough.


> Apple will give them a choice soon enough.

And hopefully one not reliant on so many dark patterns.

The OneTrust opt-outs are the worst (and don't even work! which must be against the california consumer privacy act).

On my iphone in safari: say I'm cooking dinner and go to epicurious.com. Greeted with the now-standard opt-out banner at the bottom.

1. Click the "Do not sell my advertising"

2. Greeted with a giant Conde Nast wall-of-text full screen modal

3. Scroll through it (wait, we're now reading long legalise terms-of-service just to opt-out now?)

4. In the middle of the wall of text, there's a toggle button for "Sell my Personal Information". Okay, lets forget about the 2012-era debate around UI ambiguity of toggle buttons and accept this UI dark pattern. Try to tap it.

5. I tap it, and it doesn't do anything.

You read that right -- the Conde Nast OneTrust-powered opt-out, if you go through all the steps to find it -- doesn't even work on mobile. They're shipping a broken UI. Maybe you need to do something obscure like tap-and-hold-then-drag-in-a-tiny-hitbox-that-doesn't-trigger-horizontal-page-scrolling or something. I haven't figured it out.

I assume it's companies like OneTrust or Conde Nast that are complaining Apple's presumably-more-straightforward opt-out carries a "high risk of user refusal." Looking at how user-hostile what they're shipping now shows you what they're really fighting is giving consumers an effective choice.


This is the case all over the web. Many of these cookie/privacy modals just don’t work or are deliberately engineered to be as obnoxious as possible. We need some legal test cases where this behavior is declared to be in violation of the spirit of GDPR and CCPA.


Yeah, I'm really curious about this because I don't even see these things anymore. I mean they're there, and I don't block them, but I also don't read them and never click anything in them to accept or not accept. Are they allowed to track me under either GDPR or CCPA? I haven't consented. And having text that says, "By reading our articles you consent" doesn't make any sense if I haven't read the text that says that.


My favorite firefox addon after NoScript is " I don't care about cookies".


You could replace both with ublock origin.


That toggle does operate on non-mobile safari. Note that I said “operate” not “work”: you can flip the toggle, but the two choices are not labeled.

Since I pressed “do not sell my information” and then got the Condé Nast opt outs page, does that mean the state of the toggle is already “don’t share”? It’s deliberately impossible to tell.


I have installed Firefox Sync as my default browser. It clears all cookies, and everything else except things you have downloaded when you close a tab.

So I just click allow on those popups and let the user agent do its job.

I highly recommend it to everybody. You can still keep a chrome tab open for those sites you need to login to.


Let me plug https://YourDigitalRights.org. Search for a company and send them a CCPA/GDPR deletion request. Or better yet install the browser extension and do it while visiting the company's website.


Thanks! Would it be possible to have an option to display the email text the site has generated, instead of having to configure a default MUA?


More importantly, that should be a sign that you know that you currently aren't obtaining informed consent, and should be thankful that Apple is saving you from the massive GDPR fines you should be getting (if only enforcement would actually happen).


These companies already know they aren't getting consent from users.

GDPR's requirements are pretty clear in this regard and personalisation for advertising can't be a legitimate interest. Every business in the advertising community has seeked legal counseling regarding GDPR, make no mistake about it. They simply hope that they'll be ignored for long enough.

> if only enforcement would actually happen

It does happen. Maybe not as fast as people would like, investigations and lawsuits take a while, data protection authorities are probably understaffed. Google was fined multiple times already — and they might take this as the cost of doing business, but sooner or later they will be hit with that maximum 4% of global profits if they don't adapt and they are adapting.


GDPR is over two years old now, and most major web sites are still showing non-compliant dialogs and sharing your data with dozens of trackers.

Have there been any fines against either the web sites or the ad/tracking services they use? (IIRC the Google fines were for Android, not ads/web site tracking).


> If you’re doing something and you know users are going to refuse to let you do it if they have the choice, don’t do it. Apple will give them a choice soon enough.

I think the statement would be more meaningful with "if they have the choice" removed. Otherwise, you're just arguing in favor of only those with the power to remove choice.


I think you misunderstood what they were saying. How can someone refuse if they don't have choice?


Exactly, the focus should be on avoiding what the user doesn't like, not just avoiding what the user doesn't like if there's a choice involved. If the Apple-made tool referenced in the article were subject to the same choice dialog, what might the result be? The simple presentation of the choice is what picks the winners, not the users' preferences.


That's exactly what he was saying. If users having a choice would result in them never wanting a certain behavior, it shouldn't be in there.


I think what they mean is, they need finer controls on what data they would like to access and finer controls on informing what data are in use with the application.


As far as I can tell from the article, there is only a single piece of functionality behind this prompt -- access to the device's unique advertising ID. So, I'm not sure it can get any more granular than that. Quite literally the only functionality it enables is tracking a device across installs or apps.


It is interesting. Apple is trying to position itself as more privacy friendly suggesting that the tide may be finally turning. It is difficult for me to believe that they would do it without customer demographic suggesting their user base places some value on it.


As has been said before - it is kinda hilarious to see people suggest Apple is privacy minded for marketing purposes because 5-7 years ago when they were privacy minded people said it would be a huge competitive disadvantage because users didn’t care.


In a sense, it does not take much when main competitor in that space does not really hide a desire to hoover anything and everything.


And it would put Apple behind with AI/ML. They are behind, but they are catching up. Google has to do everything on the server. Most Android devices have slow outdated hardware so you can’t do too much on the device.


> Google has to do everything on the server. Most Android devices have slow outdated hardware so you can’t do too much on the device.

The other side of the coin is that you can bring features to more people. People that do not have the money to buy the expensive iPhones, etc.


If you ask people if they want to be tracked, almost all will say no. If you ask if they'd rather be tracked or pay $X/month in exchange for a service, most will choose the tracking.


Apple has been “more privacy friendly” for at least a decade.


>Apple is trying to position itself as more privacy friendly suggesting that the tide may be finally turning.

This isn't a recent thing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39iKLwlUqBo


It's interesting to think about it from Google's perspective. How can they respond to it without undermining their whole business model. The answer is they can't.


“Increase the chance of user refusal” - imagine that applied to literally any other context, such as bank accounts, credit cards, buying cars, etc. to see how ridiculous that statement is.


The difference being agency. You intend to open a bank account, buy a car, etc. “you“ [for the majority definition of ‘you’] had no idea that you were being secretly tracked, and (clutches pearls) you might even object to that.

This is lifting the stone that’s been lying in the grass for the last decade or so, and watching all the creepy-crawlers scurry away out of the light, desperate to find somewhere to hide themselves again.


100%. And I love the fact that with Apple that agency slowly moves back to me - the ad industry can disappear overnight, and I don’t think life would get worse without it.


>the ad industry can disappear overnight, and I don’t think life would get worse without it

If you're concerned about extreme materialism and the effect it has on the environment and mental health, then it seems life would not get worse, it would get better.


I'd love to believe we would all be better if there was no advertising but it looks like our entire civilization is based on always producing and selling more stuff. What happens when we stop that ?


Perhaps a paradigm shift from a "thing" oriented society to a "person" oriented society.

"We must rapidly begin the shift from a "thing-oriented" society to a "person-oriented" society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered" -MLK


Have there been any studies showing that people buy fewer things when exposed to less advertising?


No, your confused.

The agency has just shifted closer to Apple.

Which happens to align better with your interests, at least in this-five-minute-period.


User choice is always good. I’m sure Apple is doing this not out of the goodness of their heart, but it does give customers more control, which is a positive.


Smacks of Stockholm syndrome.

It’s interesting because, as an Apple iOS and MacOS user, I experience their locked-down / progressively more restricted / more secure / more private walled garden

And I too am happy and content to be in that environment.

The thing is, people actually don’t want fraternity, okay maybe they do, but only a little of it.

What people really want is strong leadership.

We actually want a benevolent director.

Just don’t come running to me, don’t be surprised, when we all wake up in gulag.


Yes, by now everyone knows they are being "secretly" tracked since it's been in the news for the last decade.

And yet privacy isn't a strong selling point for most people. It sounds like they have spoken and they don't give a damn about it.


I see it as the opposite... the ad industry are specifically worried here that people are going to be given the choice, and they believe that the peoples' choice won't be good for them.


In your bubble, people may be very aware of this but most people do not follow tech news very closely. There’s also a big gap in understanding what this means: I would bet that far more people know that Google or Facebook track everything you do on their sites than appreciate all of the tracking across the web, bulk credit card or email mining, and the many forms of smartphone-based tracking.

Finally, if the apologists are right and most people really don’t care, this wouldn’t be an issue because people wouldn’t opt out when given the chance.


If people don't care about being tracked, then why would the ad industry be concerned about people having the option to stop tracking?


It sounds like that, but I don't think it's really true. I think that only means that with the previous tradeoffs available, they chose to keep being tracked. No reason not to try something new and maybe they'll choose something different.


Being sober increases the chance of girl refusing to have sex with me.

Solution: I should be able to slip drugs in their drink without their knowing to keep being able to have sex with girls against their will.

I really don't understand how someone with 2 neutrons can ever utter a phrase like this and think they are doing themselves a service?!


It's actually "risk of user refusal", which sounds even more ridiculous.


It can be relevant if the text is chosen which overly dramatic for what is happening. I'm sure I could write something about cookies which scares away most people from accepting them.


This is somewhat off-topic, but I'm worried about closed ecosystems, the shift towards censorship, and the end of private ownership. Good examples of this are walled gardens that break basic web links (Twitter for example), or DRM-encumbered digital books.

If I buy a physical book I can lend it to someone, or sell it if I want. If I buy a digital copy (which for some reason often costs more), not only can I not lend it but I can't sell it to anyone either. I also need to ask permission from the platform to read the book I rightfully purchased.

The Google/Apple app store duopoly is another example of this. Apple for example only allows you to use Safari, and makes it very hard for you to have any choice about what software you run on your own device.

It feels like there's a slow slide into a world where we no longer have any choice about what content we consume or how we consume it. Instead, we're spoonfed what the platform decides is good for us, and in most cases good means most profitable for the platform.


> The group of European marketing firms said the pop-up warning and the limited ability to customize it still carries “a high risk of user refusal.”

Translation: we used to be able to use dark patterns to get users to consent, now we can’t.


This ends when the origin site starts proxying requests to the ad aggregators via the site-native domain.


And the native domain owners end up taking full responsibility for the data liability


They already have to. I am confused by your statement.


Responsibility which is contractually transferable to the advertiser. Even if only against potential financial damages. Which is what matters to the companies anyway.


Doesn’t work for the web because without the 3rd party domain there’s no access to 3rd party cookies so the tracker can’t identify you that way.


First party cookie storage of identifier provided by ad network; Tracking of individuals via various fingerprinting techniques, IP address, screen size, CSS, UserAgent etc.


Does anyone more well-informed than I know if Apple's recent pivots spells a reduction in ad-based revenue for mobile developers?


I hope between this and Apple Arcade, it completely kills off apps that don’t give you a choice to turn off ads via an in app purchases.


Unlucky, get a better business model.


Apple needs to put their money where their mouth is and demote Google as the default search engine in Safari.


Can tracking be useful, if used correctly?


Yes. Google search is infinitely more useful when mildly personalised rather than based on sheer popularity. If I search for drainage companies, I don't care who the most popular drainage company in the world is, ad it's highly likely to be weighted towards somewhere more populous. When I look at reviews for services, tracking can be used by Google and co to attempt to verify that the person who left a 5* review actually used the service and wasn't an employee, or that the 1* review isn't from a competitor.

Ease of use is another, albeit less clear cut. If Ticketmaster knows I like heavy metal, they don't need to send me newsletters (that I opt in to manually of course) telling me about the upcoming country music gigs.

To be clear, I don't think that the current players are being useful to me as a consumer, they are abusing my data, but that's not to say that there is no use for tracking or personalisation,


Tracking in this context involves cross-organizational sharing of user information, usually information behavior in particular. So it isn't that Google has my location data or that Ticketmaster knows I've been to a heavy metal concert - it is that Google finds out I was at a Ticketmaster heavy metal concert.


I disagree that it's cross organisational. OPs question was "is tracking useful" and the article is talking about sharing info between apps.

Being logged into Facebook messenger because I'm logged into the Facebook app, gmail having access to info from gcal, Ticketmaster having access to livenation preferences are all examples of sharing within the same organisarion that benefit a user.


> Google search is infinitely more useful

I can definitely see how it could be more useful, but I don’t agree that the actual factor of this increase in productivity is infinite. Maybe a factor of 3 to 5.


Having used duckduckgo for a few years, which does not personalize results by default, I don't think it's even that much. More like, a factor of 3-5 on select searches and not at all (occasionally even negative) on others.


I thought it was fairly clear that I was being hyperbolic. I don't see how you would decide what that factor actually is, but to me, anonymised results across the population of gogoele search are often going to be useless, so if the addition of any metadata gives them any use whatsoever, then it's infinitely useful than a completely useless query.

That said, you're arguing semantics about the relative worth of the results, even if it is a factor of 5, that is more useful, and the answer to OPs question of is tracking useful is "yes".


I appreciate your rather lengthy rebuttal to my rather trivial retort.


It isn't even usefull for advertising.

Google keeps giving me french ads even when I speak dutch, live in the dutch half of Belgium, and have a http request header saying i speak dutch or english. I get ads for all kinds of stuff I don't care about. In fact, I get ads for things I can't even buy in my country or continent if I wanted it. If google would tune their ads to the language i ask them, based on the query I entered, the results would be a lot better.

I presume the real value of all this tracking is they can companies to buy ads with them, even if the actual ad delivery mostly fails.

Now I bought a rubber mat on ali express, for opening all kinds of electronics. For weeks they tried to sell me rubber ... stuff ... and latex ... stuff ... and other related ... stuff .... until my wife started mocking me enough to stay of their site for a few months. That's another cost of relevant advertising ;-)


Why you even getting ads in the first place? Never heard of uBlock Origins? Stop using Chrome, use Firefox. Then you can put safely Origins on both mobile and desktop for Firefox and never see any ads.


Your issue is ad targeting, and most of it is done manually by advertisers. Ironically, this shows why ad targeting can be done much better at the hands of Google and Facebook because they can track the user behaviors more accurate than advertisers.


Ad targeting is done by the buyer. They're probably setting location but not language. This happens all the time.


If it is, then the user should still consent to it. Just because something is “useful” in Google’s or FB’s eyes doesn’t mean I want to be a part of that.


Exactly. I was about to pull the trigger and pay for a subscription for the Overcast podcast player just to support the author. He wasn’t offering anything useful for the subscription - I am not complaining. It was more of an honor system.

Then he introduced ads - mostly podcast ads. Marco created his own ad platform just for his app and he doesn’t use any third party ad SDK. I both found the ads useful and I didn’t feel guilty because he was generating revenue.


Of course, there are use cases where user wants to be recognized as he travels across web domains.

For example single sign on, or a chat with a company representive when the company has several domains.

This "tracking" just needs to be clearly visible and controllable by the user.

It would be good if web browsers had a mode, where every time a site is trying to access cross domain cookies, a confirmation dialog was shown with details of the data requested, how the site is going to use it, their privacy policy. With options Allow once, always, 3 days, etc.


Yes, in which case you should be able to communicate its usefulness to the users, who will allow it.


Define "correctly". Intra application "tracking" (logging) is helpful and can help for product flow for sure. Cookie based ad networks may make for more efficient marketing efforts which in theory "lower prices" but at what cost?


I can think of a few cases. For example, an app monitoring memory usage in other apps. Or an app made to intercept certain types of calls from other apps. (A music scrobbler, for example.)


I know how unlikely it would have been, but I wish Apple just dropped this out of nowhere, because with this delay all the user tracking platforms will now just store the id they can currently access somewhere locally (if they aren't already) and keep using it going forward.


> Sixteen marketing associations, some of which are backed by Facebook Inc (FB.O) and Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google, faulted Apple for not adhering to an ad-industry system for seeking user consent under European privacy rules. Apps will now need to ask for permission twice, increasing the risk users will refuse, the associations argued.

DuckerZ in the chat boys. Zero sympathy for ad networks, they're one of the largest channels for malware. We push adblock to all our devices as corporate policy.

The ad space needs more competitors. Currently it's Facebook for boomers, Google for everyone else, and also-rans. I'm fine with Apple forcing their way into this space since I trust them more than the other players.


Who is "DuckerZ"?


My TV doesn't track me and it can still provide me ad.



Op may, like me, have a dumb TV.

You can't buy them anymore, but you can still buy computer monitors with about the same size so that is probably what I will be doing when it goes.


That's sarcasm isn't it? Your TV tracks you more than anything. Assuming it is a connected one.


Everyone should regularly be reminded that Google was caught paying professors to publish papers "friendly" to Google.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/paying-professors-inside-google...

Convincing the public that they are correct is how Google normalized the idea of sharing private information without oversight.


They have so many levers to do this too. Their public policy team has sponsored hundreds of educational institutions, lobbying organizations, and think tanks.

https://kstatic.googleusercontent.com/files/5a1907d78237ab17...

Then with journalists they use a time-honored tradition Apple has been known for: Managing exclusive access based on positive press. Blogs which promote Google's political positions get exclusive interviews with Sundar Pichai, which when factoring in the ad clicks it brings in, is a multi-million dollar payday.

TechDirt is a special bridge between the two concepts: The same guy who writes the "news" runs a lobbying organization, Copia, which is on Google's public policy team payroll.


The web of corporate intrigue that powers watchdog groups is remarkable. The people who caught the professors are from the Campaign For Accountability, a "watchdog group" [1]. They pursue this role for a variety of issues. Their work on Google comes from a wider initiative they call the Google Transparency Project. One of the funders of said project is Oracle [2], which has...its own motives for bringing Google down a peg [3].

[1] https://campaignforaccountability.org/

[2] https://fortune.com/2016/08/19/google-transparency-project-2...

[3] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_v._Oracle_America


I remember a time in which Google could do no wrong in the public eye, times sure have changed. THough equally back then, Microsoft was the baddie everybody loved to hate and today, well - I do wonder if public perception of Microsoft has surpassed Google. My gut feeling says it kinda has. Quick google(ironic I know) shows that is also the case.

https://www.zdnet.com/article/amazon-samsung-microsoft-top-t... https://theharrispoll.com/axios-harrispoll-100/


I think I expressed this opinion before on this forum, bit Google is just another corporation now. I practically expect it to bend the rules to serve its needs. Same is true for other companies with followings ( looking at you Tesla ).




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