Jun 13, 2022

Is App Tracking a Harmful Policy?

Isabella Abbott

App tracking is everywhere. Whether it’s on a phone, computer, or any device, many of our applications and even websites track what we do and can see everything we allow them to. But, sometimes we don’t even realize how much that really is. This blog will teach you all about app tracking, show you how it works, and talk about if it falls under a harmful policy. Plus we’ll learn what Meta has to say about this important topic.

What is App Tracking?

And how it works 

App tracking can be defined as the tracking of app usage on devices. Typically and when the phone is turned off, the apps are blocked from asking to track you. Many phone experts say that you should have the app tracking system turned off on all your devices purely for safety and privacy reasons as well. App tracking is used to collect any and all data that the application has on you, from your searches to your most visited places in the app. 

App tracking transparency was recently made with IOS 14.5 for Apple, which allows for more safety features on our devices. The system requires applications to have to ask for permission from you to be able to track your specific activity across other applications they aren’t a part of or own. By having this new feature on iPhones, people will have an increased sense of privacy, since app tracking is able to make specific and detailed records of how you use your phone on a daily basis. But this could be a bad thing for the mobile ad industry which relies on the data they receive from app tracking. An important reason why it could disrupt companies like this includes: 

  • No information=no monetary gains. If these types of companies specifically rely on what you’re looking at on your devices and they’re suddenly not able to have that information, then they won’t be able to send specific ads to you to gain money. They have spent months and possibly even years tracking their users through devices while collecting consumer data, which has become a giant industry. But if that all goes away due to systems like Apple’s new app tracking transparency, then ads will be less relevant to phone users causing a decrease in sales. 
People on their phones in a city looking up at something. 
Since we as people have a tendency to always be on our phones, app tracking is easy for companies who can find and send specific ads to our devices for us to consume. This happens daily since we spend so long staring at our screens, and it’s almost impossible to stay away from them.  

How Targeted Ads Work 

Why do we need them? 

Targeted ads are all around us whether we like it or not. But it can be confusing if something has just popped into your mind and suddenly the answer or product you’re looking for is right in front of your eyes on your device. This happens since a targeted ad is served to a specific audience which is you. Mostly, it’s directed towards an audience with certain traits based on the product being promoted. 

Some reasons why you could have these types of ads pop up are because of your specific: 

  • Lifestyles. The way you live your life tends to show up on devices which is why targeted ads will be brought to you based on your likes and needs.
  • Online activities. Most of your online activities are monitored or can be seen by companies which is why some activities, like shopping, can include different types of specific ads for you to view. 
  • Online purchases. Since companies can see when and what you’re buying from them, these targeted ads can come up after purchasing since they know you’ve had the product before. They can also see how many times you’ve came back to purchase again so they’ll know if you seem to enjoy it or not which is when the ads start rolling in!  
  • Interests. Like lifestyles, your interests can be seen in what you purchase online so if you continue to buy items from a store, they’ll try to send you more specific ads from your recent or most used items. 
A lady with shopping bags 
If you continue to stick with the same company for purchases, they’ll want to send you specific ads so you’ll want more. This will help if you’ve been wanting to try more products from their store or if you’ve suddenly realized you need to make another trip! 

Privacy Concerns with App Tracking 

Could too much data be out there? 

Since targeted ads rely heavily on user data, people tend to be concerned with how much of that data these applications and our devices have actually collected on us. According to an article from Forbes, some people feel even more unsafe with data collection then usual since over the last couple of years, online shopping and e-commerce has grown immensely meaning we must put more information onto our devices than ever before.

There isn’t a way to get out of it either. There’s always going to be some sort of our information online whether that’s in a company website or an online shopping spree. A pro of this is that we can easily access our information but this can also be a con if our things are that easily found and acted upon. Although privacy can be an issue with these types of ads which is understandable, by having our needs right in front of us and personalized, we can easily access what we love in an instant which can make us feel warm and good inside as well! 

A guy with a computer 
Since companies have a lot of data on us, it can be hard to maintain privacy especially in this day and age. But, there will always be pros as well since it’s easier to access what we need! 

How App Tracking Can Affect Companies 

What Meta has to say about these new policies for Apple devices 

Companies like Meta are expected to lose money due to the new policies for app tracking on devices. According to an article from 9TO5Mac, Meta is possibly going to lose 10 billion dollars due to Apple’s company changes. Although that’s a tough loss for any company, they’re still trying their best to adapt to the changes by still targeting users for ads, they’re just not as specific as before. But since it’s harder to track particular people on their devices, these ads will be less relevant as a whole to the people on the other side of that device. 

Similarly, companies like Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat are also expected to lose a good amount of money due to the new changes Apple made about a year ago. Facebook is planning to lose almost 13 billion in revenue, according to another article from 9TO5Mac. Their app has the infamous prompt that allows users to opt-out of app tracking, which will cause more revenue loss in general. Although these companies will still have chances to increase and grow, the future of app tracking is making this a harsher reality since targeted ads make up a lot of their money. 

A person holding a phone with pop-up ads on it. 
Companies will slowly be unable to give you specifically targeted ads due to privacy changes on the devices we use daily. This will make big corporations lose billions of dollars on ad revenue, which could cause even more issues in the future. Although it may sound like good news not to have as many ads on your phone all the time, those ads were specifically made for you to see and help lots of companies, big and small, stay afloat in today’s world of technology and phones. 

All in all, although app tracking can be scary for some or most, it’s what’s needed in our world and society today since we all receive some type of information from the internet in some sort of form. There are also some different ways that people can have their information less visible which Apple started a couple years ago and that hopefully some companies will grasp onto as well. Just don’t forget that some of your private information may be online!