[Update: Apple details delay] Apple reportedly delaying iOS 14 advertising privacy feature bashed by Facebook

Just last week, Facebook and other major publishers heavily criticized Apple over the upcoming privacy changes in iOS 14 that are expected to cut down on mobile ad revenue. Now a new report from The Information says that Apple is planning to delay the new app and website tracking feature. Update: Apple has confirmed the delay to The Information’s Alex Heath, including the detail that it plans to launch the privacy feature “early next year” along with a brief statement on why it made the decision. Here’s Apple’s full statement via Alex:

“We want to give developers the time they need to make the necessary changes, and as a result, the requirement to use this tracking permission will go into effect early next year.”

Facebook has criticized Apple several times over the new privacy feature in iOS 14 that it says could see ad revenue drop as much as 40%. Then shortly after, a group of publishers shared the same fears, with one expecting up to a 50% decline in ad revenue on iOS.

A new report from The Information today says that Apple is now planning to push back introducing the default feature that would ask users if whether they’re okay being tracked across apps and websites:

Apple has told some developers that it plans to delay the enforcement of a controversial change to its next mobile operating system that would upend how ads are targeted on iPhones and iPads, according to people familiar with the matter.
While the tension between Apple and developers/advertisers has grown to a boiling point in the last few weeks, concerns were raised almost immediately after Apple announced the new ad tracking privacy feature at WWDC in June. Beyond Facebook and the other publishers who publicly criticized Apple, The Information’s sources believe the delay of the tracking requirement comes after hearing feedback from a number of third-parties, including some big game developers like Activision Blizzard.
There are signs that Apple has heard concerns from developers and advertisers. Since announcing the IDFA change in June, Apple’s App Store team has asked a handful of gaming firms, including Activision Blizzard, Tencent-owned Supercell, and N3twork, to share how the change will impact their businesses, according to people familiar with the talks.
The Information highlights $76 billion tied up in mobile ads annually and also how Apple could be affected by its own privacy feature as ad spend is often linked to freemium games that generate a lot of App Store revenue.
Spending on ads to drive mobile app downloads is expected to reach roughly $76 billion globally this year, according to the ad tech firm AppsFlyer, which made the estimate early this year before the coronavirus pandemic took hold and Apple announced its IDFA change. These ads particularly fuel free-to-play games that monetize through in-app purchases, which in turn provide revenue to Apple through the 30% cut it takes from such transactions through its store.

The reversal of requiring developers to abide by the new privacy feature with the public release of iOS 14 will certainly be a disappointment to many users and those who applauded Apple for the strong privacy move. And ironically, Apple just released a new privacy-focused iPhone ad today.

But Apple is still expected to launch the app tracking changes after giving developers and advertisers more time to adjust to the change. A specific timeline isn’t known but The Information suggests it could happen in 2021.

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