Blocking all app tracking in iOS 14.5 won’t stop Apple itself from serving personalized ads

Ad executives are saying that Apple’s new App Tracking Transparency rules in iOS 14.5 could be beneficial to ad agencies and other clients that use Apple’s own advertising platform.


  • Opting out of app tracking prevents ad personalization.
  • Clients using Apple’s own ad platform enjoy some benefits.
  • Apple denies its ad platform benefits from this privacy push.

iOS 14.5 app tracking vs. Apple ads

The Wall Street Journal reports that some ad executives think Apple’s new App Tracking Transparency rules could be beneficial to their own clients provided they take advantage of Apple’s own ad platform which provides insights into ad performance for iOS and iPadOS devices. The ability to track users for ad targeting is important to the industry because developers can charge more for personalized ads.

Under Apple’s new privacy restrictions, advertisers targeting iPhone users will get more data about ad performance if they buy Apple’s ad space than if they buy through third parties, according to ad-industry executives. The difference could eventually give Apple’s small but growing ad business an edge over rivals, ad executives and app makers say.

Blocking app tracking stops advertisers from delivering highly personalized ads to iOS customers. On top of that, advertisers have little insight into the performance of their ads and must wait for three days before getting data about the effectiveness of their ad campaigns.

That’s unless developers choose to serve ads through Apple’s own ad network.

Advertisers who buy Apple ad space can receive more data about user behavior, the people said. They can learn which version of their ads users saw and which search keywords ads appeared on, they said. Those advertisers will get results in nearly real time.

9to5Mac adds this:

To be clear, Apple’s ads are really only relevant to developers, and the company doesn’t have access to detailed information on customers, but it can use Apple ID names to try to target by gender, and can allow ads to be filtered by whether or not users have specific apps installed. That allows a very basic level of targeting that is not available to third-party ad networks like Google.

Apple’s advertising services primarily focus on search ads on the App Store.

The way Apple has set this up suggests that advertisers who opt to use Apple’s ad system may gain an edge over rivals who do not participate in it. Whether this practice is something that regulators may take a closer look at remains to be seen although Apple certainly doesn’t need that give its current legal battles with regulators.

According to the article, Apple may be planning to extend its own ad network to the News and Stocks apps. Cowen & Co analysts have predicted that Apple’s ad revenue for the full fiscal year could approach $2 billion.

iOS 14.5’s new tracking permission prompt

Following the release, some people reported that the option to disable tracking for all apps by default is greyed out for them or not functioning as intended. Apple will likely fix these issues on the server-side, without issuing another software download.

How to disable tracking for specific iPhone apps and altogether

The release of iOS 14.5 has received significant criticism from Facebook and similar ad-driven businesses. Put simply, app tracking has gone from showing no prompt in iOS releases predating iOS 14.5 to giving you the choice to choose whether you want to be tracked or not in iOS 14.5.

Now apps wishing to track you across other apps and websites are required to put up a prompt with two buttons: Ask App Not to Track and Allow.

Facebook has confirmed that its iOS app will soon start displaying a tracking permission prompt when it’s first opened. However, the company expects that a version of Facebook for iOS which honors the new App Tracking Transparency rules will take weeks to roll out.

A Facebook spokesperson told CNET:

We’ll start rolling out the prompt to iOS 14.5 users today, but we will roll out the prompt over the course of a few weeks, so not all eligible users will see the prompt right away. We’re ramping this rollout globally to ensure everything works as expected.

According to a new section titled “Accessing User Data” in Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines, any apps that attempt to reward you with monetary incentives in exchange for enabling app tracking will be banned from the App Store.