Apple’s decision to require users to opt-in to its IDFA tracking has understandably disrupted the ad tech ecosystem. Its new measures, albeit now delayed until “early” 2021, ignore current initiatives from the IAB around transparency and privacy-first best practices.
The IAB-led initiatives I’m referring to include ads.txt, app-ads.txt, sellers.json, the GDPR Transparency and Consent Framework (TCF), and the Open Measurement SDK. Each of these solutions was created to help standardize marketing practices around the world. And in doing so, the IAB managed to help simplify digital advertising processes while making them more open and transparent to all parties.
Privacy first, transparency second
The new approach Apple plans to roll out as part of iOS 14 will fragment those worldwide practices and vastly reduce transparency. The IAB Europe recently urged Apple to consider adhering to its TCF standards in order to promote interoperability as opposed to shutting vendors out. The TCF was designed to ensure compliance with European privacy laws when processing personal data or accessing and/or storing information on a user’s device. Unfortunately, Apple took a different approach on privacy with its decision to essentially deprecate the IDFA.
In its July statement, the IAB Tech Lab explained that Apple’s plans regarding iOS 14 conflict with the TCF standards. For example, on Apple devices, users can opt-in or opt-out of services such as geolocation data on the operating system (OS) level. But if the user chooses to do so, app publishers will not be notified. As a result, apps would still be showing an opt-in request pop-up and annoying the user, while being unable to signal the user’s choice to its vendors.
On the other hand, if a user is using an app that meets TCF standards but does not opt-in to ad tracking, the publisher will not be able