Apple’s Privacy Changes Make Big Impact on Research

In this post:  Apple’s privacy changes make a big impact on marketing, market research and tourism marketing. Apple’s privacy changes give users the tools to protect consumer data, data collection and use.

Apple’s privacy changes will go into effect this fall when the new iOS 14 (operating system) is released.

If you’re a marketer or researcher or use marketing or research to develop your marketing plan, Apple introduced two significant new user privacy changes that will impact your destination’s travel marketing efforts and how you are able to promote your destination. This will have consequences for destination marketing organizations (DMO), convention and visitors bureaus (CVB), tourism development authorities (TDA and chambers of commerce.

Before we share the specific details, it’s important for everyone who uses the “free” Internet to understand that there is “no free lunch.” Unbeknown to many people, we’ve actually been paying for this free access with our (yours and my) user data being sold and shared. How do you think these large search engines, telecommunication companies and social media platforms help pay for their operational expenses and make money? The answer is data collection, data use and data sharing.

While we’ve been downloading apps on our smartphones and tablets, our data – where we go and what we do – has been tracked, sold and shared. It’s the tech version of “Big Brother” or as defined by Merriam Webster “an all-powerful government or organization monitoring and directing people’s actions.” Third-party applications or apps, sell this information to researchers and digital ad service providers. They in turn filter the information by geo-fencing, geo-location or geo-targeting.

Geo-fencing is where a wall is put up around an area either by dropping a pin on a map and selecting a fixed radius or by a polygon method that has a zig-zag border. Other refinements can also be added. Geo-location works off of GPS (latitude and longitude) or an IP or Wi-Fi address to determine where a person is located. Once a location is determined, geo-targeting takes over and delivers specific messages based on location, demographics and lifestyle.

If you feel as if digital ads are haunting you, too, you aren’t crazy. Telecommunications companies have the ability to track your movement through your phone from, for example, your home airport to another airport and then your movement at each location. You click on an ad or visit a website, close it and move on. You come back days later to find ads displayed everywhere for that product. Apple’s privacy changes, if a user agrees, will stop this dead in its tracks once the iOS 14 hits the streets.

Apple’s new user interface (UI) will impact each downloaded app in its Apple Store, not just the iOS variety.

1) App developers will now need to disclose the type of data they “may” collect, known as Data Linked to You. This can include your:

  • Browsing history
  • Contacts
  • Financial info
  • Identifiers
  • Purchases
  • Location

2) The app developer will also need to now disclose “where” the data that may be tracked across apps and websites owned by other companies (sold and shared) AKA Data Used to Track You. This can include your:

  • Contact info
  • Identifiers
  • Location (key to travel researchers and advertisers)

Armed with this disclosed information, you, the consumer, can make a conscious decision to participate or say, “Nope, I don’t want my data shared and start removing apps.” We will leave it to geo-location and geo-fencing intelligence data sellers and travel researchers to convince us why the new thinner version of consumer behavior research is still as robust as it’s been.

Users will now need to give permission to companies/apps to track them “across apps and websites owned by other companies”. The options, thanks to Apple’s privacy changes, will be to Allow Tracking or Ask App Not to Track.

In essence, retargeting ads are getting a swift kick to the curb. Never underestimate the next new marketing tool yet to be created that will outfox Apple’s privacy changes.

What about my desktop computer?
If you currently use Goggle’s Chrome, Mozilla’s Firefox and Microsoft’s Edge, each has anti-tracking features. This fall Safari on a MAC is slated to receive an update to its privacy tools. Users will then be able to see a Tracking Report identifying tracking scripts added or blocked from the browser.

On June 22, 2020, Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) held an online event where millions of creative and innovative developers were given early access to the future of iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS, and were given an opportunity to engage with Apple engineers who build app experiences that impact the lives of Apple customers around the globe.

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