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Apple CEO Tim Cook in a video promoting new privacy features in June 2021. Credit: Apple
Apple

Apple’s Next Blow to the Ad Industry May Be Hiding in Plain Sight

Photo: Apple CEO Tim Cook in a video promoting new privacy features in June 2021. Credit: Apple

Nearly a year after Apple implemented privacy changes that make it harder for digital advertisers to track how consumers use their smartphone apps, the iPhone maker has already introduced two other privacy features that mask the identity of Apple device users. Together, they threaten to further constrain the online ad industry’s ability to track customers, according to ad tech company executives and advertising consultants.

The two privacy features, which Apple launched last fall, are currently available only to people who pay for its iCloud+ storage service. Some ad industry executives fear, however, that Apple could expand or promote the features to more of its customers, similar to how it launched and expanded previous privacy features. That would cause further chaos or crimp revenue for incumbents such as Google and Facebook parent Meta Platforms, whose advertisers are only now starting to recover from the implementation of earlier iPhone ad-tracking restrictions.

“It’s got the industry holding their collective breath,” said Grant Simmons, a vice president at Kochava, which helps advertisers measure the performance of online ad campaigns.

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