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Facebook says Apple’s new iPhone update will disrupt online advertising (wsj.com)
101 points by burnaboy 11 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 87 comments

Initially, I was skeptical of the "good!" reactions. It's worrying/annoying when one company alone has the clout to massively impede a potential competitor (or legitimate service they simply dislike) in arbitrary ways.

And then I read the subheadline of the article: > The social-media company says Apple’s privacy changes will affect its Audience Network business, which connects users’ Facebook identities with their off-platform activities

Holy sh*t - GOOD! Go Apple

I hope you realize what this means is that ads as a monetization model for apps is getting decimated. These apps will now have to explore alternate monetization models such as either making themselves paid or subscriptions. And guess what, Apple takes a 30% cut of it. If you are thinking Apple is a benevolent savior of privacy, you are absolutely wrong. All they are doing here is to hurt advertising so that more apps move to other models which lets Apple extract more value.

Get ready, as a user, to pay for these apps which were once free.

>All they are doing here is to hurt advertising so that more apps move to other models which lets Apple extract more value.

Sounds like a great business incentive to be pro-privacy to me. You can count on profit motive.

Don’t be silly this doesn’t take away advertising-supported apps whatsoever. They’re just taking away the ability to target users based on activity outside of the app, perhaps reducing the effectiveness of the targeting.

Plenty of industries survived for centuries without these kinds of ads.

Facebook is literally saying that their Audience Network product will see 50% reduction in revenue. That means apps will see less revenue from using AN. This is likely a pattern across apps.

That reduction is based entirely on their prediction of how many users will not give consent to be tracked.

FB is going to use less accurate forms of tracking, so they simply won't be able to charge as much. I'm not going to feel bad for a company that has to work harder to circumvent the users wishes.

I would rather pay for software with money than with privacy. Which is the precise option Apple is offering by allowing users to opt out of sending private data to Facebook and other advertisers. If you like giving your private data to advertisers, by all means, opt in.

(1) yes, this decimation is what I want, unironically. I want to pay up front and then trust the app isn't doing shady sh*t, rather than not pay and hope that whatever shady stuff they're doing doesn't bite me too hard. The reason every app does shady stuff is because you can't compete as a legit app when Shady Shaun over there is "giving" it away. I want the ecosystem to be paid.

(2) Apple's margin (from their distribution channel) is not unreasonable, imo, given that most apps would simply not be successful without the trust and technology Apple provides.

(3) Apple is obvi not benevolent; they're a _self-interested_ supporter of privacy. [Company] does [thing I like] so I pay [price] is how companies work, why I back Apple here, and ultimately why I'm willing to pay $60 or whatever for a charging cord.

Fine - you might be ok to pay it. But think about 100s of millions of users who aren't ok to pay for it. Now they don't have much choice since Apple took it away.

Very, very few of those users had a choice in the first place. Few apps have both ad-supported and premium versions in the first place (especially not the big ones - you literally can't pay for a Facebook subscription), and extremely few users were even aware of the trade-off that existed. Some premium apps (e.g. YouTube Red) engage in data harvesting anyway.

Apple did not take a choice away - they just changed the only option.

I guess I view Apple as a luxury ecosystem: I pay extra and get locked into a secondary ecosystem, and in return, they make lots of marginal improvements all over the place (privacy, camera, etc.) that make my life ever-so-slightly easier.

It's more than just $-for-product; 100s of millions of other users have Samsung, Google, etc. to buy from.

Additionally, this literally pushes more data into the hands of FB. Our FB advertising rep is already asking us to share more data with them to mitigate the impact of this change.

People have become accustomed to ad measurement. Performance marketing is a thing for a reason. How will ad performance be measured now? FB is already rolling out a tool to do that, but only if you share more data with them (lifetime value estimates, etc).

Sounds like Apple needs to crack down harder.

Doesn’t this change simply require for the apps to ask for permissions to use this data? I’d gladly pay for an app vs. giving away all my info. I would assume there are people on the other side of the fence as well.

As someone who routinely asks myself how the fuck random useful utility apps and websites will pay for their costs. Good! More damn stuff needs to cost money so we have a damn choice.

I’m sick of being the product when I have the damn money to buy services and products but everyone from startups to solo devs seem hell bent on pursuing advertising driven revenue models. If this drives some more developers to build more sustainable products and services then as far as I’m concerned Apple did a good thing.

I’m not going to comment on the validity of Apple’s 30% cut because I don’t think they deserve 30% however that doesn’t change the fact that I think this is a good thing.

“Free” as in “you pay with your data”?

It's not free if you're paying with data. I have no problems paying for apps that I use daily in exchange for not having my data sold off to the highest bidder.

What you’re describing is the dream scenario, creepy ad tech being replaced by things like micro transactions and new innovations along those lines. Maybe this can make it happen? I for one would gladly pay the minuscule amounts of money facebook makes from me seeing their annoying ads.

> Get ready, as a user, to pay for these apps which were once free.

A user will prioritize apps by value and pay for those that provide most value. Developer of valuable app will get paid. Is this a bad thing?

If it was user choice - this is fair. But a platform is making this decision for the users and in the process trying to extract value.

The change Apple is making will finally let users make the decision. Currently FB decides on behalf of users.

This seems like a straightforward example of something you should be applauding.

"User choice" is still a thing?

Quite possibly the least polarising move Apple has ever made.

I can’t think of a single reason as to why adding the prompt is a bad idea.

Not a single one? By reducing the effectiveness of advertising business models, Apple can force apps to use in-app purchasing and gain that 30% cut.

Additionally they do not have to display the permission modal for their own user tracking.

It’s good to display prompts and make users aware of what is happening.. but it should be mandated fairly by a third-party not the company owning the App Store.

Google is heading down a similar route with Chrome. Nuking other’s ability to target ads while improving their own business in some way (in this case improving their ability to track users while negating others).

Google take 32% of the Adsense money so 30% sounds like a bargain.

I'm so tired of ad sprinkled apps. All I wanted was to play a cheap Tetris clone not look at some ad load screen. Any ad app feels like 90s ad-ware and you know it spies on you so atleast it is a good warning sign to delete it. I wish there was a filter option "no after purchase purchases, no adds" in the app stores.

I'd still rather have to cough up cash than give in to tracking by default, though. So generally this isn't a negative for me.

Naieve as you may think me, I think Apple want to get data so they can sell me products they sell (both Apple products and third party software) - I'm ok with that because I like their products and software. I'm consciously buying into an ecosystem that is purchase driven rather than making money off data sales.

They don't have to display the modal on their own user tracking because I've already signed up and bought in.

I understand why everyone's instant reaction might be "good," but if you are in the business of making an app, you will eventually need to get users for your app. Advertising is how that happens. That's because app store discovery was nerfed years ago, to make store search ads a revenue source. This Apple IDFA change will likely force you to redirect your ad spend from the Facebook Audience Network to Apple search ads.

Advertising existed before detailed tracking, and can exist perfectly well without it.

Perhaps it will be a little less effective, but we do not need to optimise our society to increasing the effectiveness of advertising.

Conflating contextual and targeted advertising isn't even the worse intellectually dishonest offenses of the social media apologists.

Would you not call Apple Search Ads targeted? This looks similar to Facebook's ad targeting system: https://searchads.apple.com/advanced/

No, Search Ads is keywords targeting, not "we build a whole profile of you and then use that". It has its own issues, but they're not the ones you have with Facebook's solution.

Haha no.

Except you don't get people buying fake ovens offline. There isn't a great analogy I can think of but there is a huge amount of ad fraud where it's profitable to fake an install, fake app use to generate more fake ad revenue ad fake installs, etc. So long as it's profitable for someone to fake installs and fake user traffic there will be a need for better value conversion tracking

yeh don't fk individual privacy for ads, and let a sht company like FB make billions of profit

> but if you are in the business of making an app

that's your mistake, right there.

So you don't use a smartphone? With apps? That people make?

The actual UX of this is very telling. Apple haven't actually clobbered this, they've added a modal "This app would like to track you across apps, Y/N". Apple haven't actually said no to this, they've given the user the ability to say no.

I find this an interesting distinction, because the only logical way to extrapolate "the user now has a choice" to "apple have ruined this for us", is to admit that given a clear and effective choice, the user will opt out of this almost every time.

Which is why this one is a "good!". If every user wants to opt out of this, perhaps it should never have been viable in the first place.

I've never had an IPhone, this will make me consider it next time my upgrade is due.

In what market are Apple and Facebook competitors?

Everyone hates when their stable business model is disrupted.

But in general, I don't think it should be the role of regulation (or lawsuits, or retaliatory business strategies) to protect people's business models -- unless there are compelling public interest/national security/etc reasons to do so.

Someone will figure out how to thrive when conditions change. You're just mad because it's not you any more.

It doesn't help that adtech have been pretty consistent about being as abusive as they can until they get pushed back.

This is the industry that invented the popup/pop-under, until browsers were forced to adopt technological solutions to prevent them. And third-party toolbars - good lord. The over-reach of tracking is just the same thing all over again.

Perhaps if they weren't actively attacking us, we wouldn't be so eager to defend ourselves.

But think of all the horse manure shovelers and the horseshoe makers who will lose their jobs!

My speculation here is Facebook made this announcement very strategically. Now that Apple under pressure for it's handling of app store reviews, this would be the perfect time to criticize Apple in other areas.

Facebook is hoping people read the headline, don't read too much into it, and that would fuel anti-Apple sentiment that they are acting as a monopoly.

Because if you read just below the surface on this topic, you'll quickly realize this is a huge win for consumers and privacy advocates.

That’s why I’m on an iPhone. Unlike google they don’t have a powerful incentive to make the devices leaky like a sieve due to ad biz side. FB can say it but I’m sure google is thinking the same thing

Besides - it’s not like ads are going to go away. It’ll just be less focused

I see nothing wrong with returning to older models of advertising: you buy simple ads (like pictures or text on web sites, or audio during podcasts), with zero scripting attached, and no video. And you track them in obvious ways (e.g. special codes at checkout, or you simply ask “how did you find out about us?”), which still gives a clue which ads were effective.

The entitlement of these ad companies to their obscene revenues and invasive methods is insane. Facebook’s “disruption” is hardly a problem I care about. Maybe the Internet will finally be usable again if we have a little more disruption.

Audio in podcasts could be and are targeted now. Scared the shit out of me, so I did some digging and arrived at https://www.acast.com/en

While Apple is trying to double down on privacy improvements, Google's aiming to build a bigger moat for their ad business with Android OS (>80% mobile OS marketshare) and Chrome (>70% browser marketshare) changes.

Google deserves the same amount of criticism, but the addiction to their free services keep users silent.

Good. Let's burn Facebook to the ground.

This change seems like it will have the unintended consequence of transferring more power into the hands of large advertisers.

For one, this breaks company's (advertiser's and 3rd party data aggregator's) ability to link customers to campaigns, which effectively pushes measurement back to the advertising platform who have an inherent conflict of interest. They are selling the ads, and telling you how efficient the ads are.

Additionally, the only companies that can do battle with Apple to find loopholes/engineering solutions to this change are the companies that are (a) very large, (b) have the resources and talent to throw at the problem. There are several third party data providers that are basically toast now.

Edit: I don't work for FB, but I do build ML lifetime values models, which will get much harder after this change is made.

It seems like that logic could apply to any change that would improve the users' privacy. The best thing for small ad companies would probably be if everyone's data was completely public, that would surely minimize the barrier to entry!



You won't get less ads, they just won't be targeted.

I'm even fine with being targeted, as long as they're not personally targeted.

Want to serve up ads for yarn when I'm browsing Ravelry? Cool.

Want to try to sell me your series of graded readers for language learners when I'm using the Duolingo app? No problem.

Want to set up a giant dragnet surveillance operation and then cross-link all the bits of information you collect about me into a giant profile that you can feed into a horrendous rat's nest of math you barely understand, but can plausibly deny you weren't aware was subtly profiling me based on indicators of my race or sex, in order to decide whether or not you want to try to track me down and sell me on some fancy mail-order-only brand of underwear while I'm at work? Let's slow down here.

That's perfectly fine by me.

Same! Yay Apple.

Excellent, I don't want companies creepily looking at my every move. The fad of "targeted ads" is just a bad excuse for intrusive technology. I don't want companies knowing my interests or what I want to buy, unless I decide to do so.

Which means Facebook will be able to charge less money for it, so hopefully their relevance will decline over time.

This is how the world used to work, and it was fine.


Only hatred of Facebooks appalling business model could bring such unanimous approval of a move by Apple!

The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

After being an Android fanboy since the G1 was announced, then all through the nexus line of phones which turned into the pixel line, I say without hesitation that my next phone is going to be iphone.

I'm sick of the tracking and lack of fine grained control to limit app permissions and background data.

Goodbye Google, thanks but no thanks. I can't trust your subsidized spyware tracking tech in my pocket anymore.

So you are upset that now other people can stop you from exploiting me when I am not using your service? Hmmmmmmmm

Looks like they're going to refuse to comply with it, in fact: https://twitter.com/rjonesy/status/1298662658934222848

Can someone more familiar with what's going on here explain that statement? It's not at all clear to me what they're saying.

If I'm reading both the Apple prompt details and the Twitter statement correctly, what that tweet is saying is that Facebook will not request access to the IDFA at all, and will also not allow developers using Facebook's SDK to request it. This means they won't trigger ("adopt" per the tweet) the prompt notifying the user of tracking, since they aren't using the IDFA to track anymore.

The rest of the tweet goes on to describe how to comply with that policy from Facebook, and to suggest alternate methods for developers to track users on iOS, including Facebook Login or Advanced Matching.

I've been fairly critical of many things Apple does and stands for but in this case I can but give them a pat on the back and say "good Apple". I still won't buy in to their walled world since I consider my freedom to valuable but if this can help put a dent in the scourge called ad tech I'm all for it. It won't affect me personally since I use free software on a Google-free AOSP-derived Android distribution and as such am already immune to the ad tech monster but that doesn't diminish the value of cracking down on the aberration, the pustule, the diseased malignancy called ad tech. Be gone, foul creature, your days are done.

I highly doubt that facebook ads could become “less relevant”. I mostly get ads from Wish for weird contraptions that I can’t even tell what they’re for, and some very specific heavy machinery for thousands of dollars that i also have no idea what it’s for. Pneumatic drills? Miniature combine harvesters? Lately it’s been supplemented with ads for romantic Indian movies and wedding dresses. And I’m a married Scandinavian male.

So maybe we will stop being put into echo chambers and radicalized to hate our neighbors?

Maybe we will stop having so many clickbait articles written by journalists?

Other business models for the win!

People like echo chambers, they go out of their way to self select into them.


We have had message boards, subreddits, newspapers, TV news shows, radio shows, etc. dedicated to (or at least slanted towards) specific policial views for quite some time.

Possibly centuries in the case of pamphlets and newspapers, often printed with an explicitly partisan point of view in ye olde times.

Do they go out of their way, or do they naturally gravitate to like-minded people?

Can somebody tell what changes are they talking specifically?

Based on https://www.cnbc.com/2020/08/26/facebook-apple-ios-14-could-...

It seems to be the unique ID used for targeted advertising. iOS 14 requires user opt-in before the IDFA can be used by third-party apps for advertising. This, I believe, is what Facebook is crying foul about.

Apple has come down hard on the privacy aspect of their Brand to differentiate them.

In this specific example things like AppleSignIn with the option of using a fake/relay email while signing in.

Facebook proposed a similar system but then abondoned it when they realized it harmed their business model.

I believe it refers to the addition in iOS 14 where users have to explicitly opt-in to being tracked by advertisers. The ad industry is expecting most users to decline to be tracked, hence limiting the usefulness of targeted ads.

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2020/06/22/apple-ios-14-ad-tracking/

I believe they're referring to the forced permission prompt for allowing tracking cross websites and apps - https://www.wired.com/story/apple-ios-14-safari-privacy-ad-t...

Specifically, from the above,

> "moving forward, App Store policy will require apps to ask before tracking you across apps and websites owned by other companies"

I upvoted an article first time on hackernews. Well done Apple

I might get myself an iPhone then...

Wonderful news!!


I’m so tired of ads.

This is why it'll be both correct and just when Apple wins their antitrust cases.

Good. There is no product-market fit with 99% of online ads.

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