Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework requires a user’s explicit consent to enable tracking and access to the device’s identifier for advertisers (IDFA). This means that app publishers need permission before using a device ID or other identifier for personalisation and app tracking on any Apple device such as iPhones, iPads, or Apple TVs.

Apple has instigated these changes under the guise of increasing transparency for the user (a noble goal). However, for marketers and advertisers, the inability to use IDFA makes targeting, activation, and attribution of campaigns far more complex. 

When coupled with GDPR and CCPA, it is clear that there is a marked shift towards improving user privacy; however, these changes significantly reduce web and app publisher revenues and will impact the way ad-tech companies operate.

Why is Apple making this change?

Apple makes a LOT of money selling devices, so it’s little surprise that selling a secure device creates a unique selling differentiator for them. Apple’s position is that the user should control whether their data is collected or not and have largely ignored the protests of advertisers, namely Meta.

How is Meta responding to the challenge?

Meta has recently stated that these changes will negatively impact their revenue by around USD $10B per year. To counter this, they have waged a PR campaign, running full-page adverts arguing that this will hurt small to medium businesses and championing themselves as the good guy in this fight. However, I’d say that the campaign treats consumers like chumps, glossing over the Cambridge Analytica scandal and Meta’s revenue before ethics approach, recently shown during the US federal elections.

How should platforms be responding to the challenge?

Quite simply, these changes have come about due to players like Meta putting revenue before all else. The correct approach would be to open up their algorithms to public scrutiny and increase organic visibility for smaller players and their pages. This openness would give some credence to their ineffectual campaigns to date. In addition, changing their paid advertising model to include more transparency for users and marketers alike and more ethical audience targeting would instil confidence in what they do.

What impact will this have for marketers?

The new updates will affect your advertising campaigns in 2 clear ways:

  • Ad Retargeting: Retargeting users who have opted out of IDFA and visited your site through their Apple iOS device is now not possible unless you target them via a login, phone number or email.
  • Ad Measurement & Marketing Attribution: Without a clear connection, the reporting data you have may not match leads coming into the business, and anyone who has opted out will be a guestimate at best. 
  • Ad Frequency: You will not be able to ensure your adverts on Facebook are delivered at the right times and frequencies to maximise results.


Initiatives such as ATT and the phase-out of 3rd party cookies, whilst disruptive to the market in the short-term, provide the first step towards regaining the trust of the consumer. Meta and others have simply treated the consumer too poorly for too long, and we feel that this will see 2022 as the year that successful organisations will rely less on 3rd party data. Successful brands will instead pivot to relying on 1st person data, enabling them to continue to provide personalised services, but without eroding consumer trust.