On Wednesday, Apple kicked off a new ad campaign to promote key privacy features and convince people to choose iPhones over the competition. The “Data Auction” theme, where an auctioneer sells a user’s data, highlights that people today lose their data at various stages and through multiple sources, including emails, messages, and browsing history. It describes Apple’s App Tracking Transparency and Mail Privacy Protection as some of the built-in features to help protect data tracking. However, the given offer is not so foolproof.
The over a minute and a half ad begin with the introduction of protagonist Ellie, whose data has been put up for auction. The auctioneer puts various types of Ellie’s data on sale. It contains her emails, purchase history, location data, contacts, browser history, and text messages.
Advertisers and marketers collect data from various sources to understand usage patterns. The Cupertino company claims it designs its products and features so that everyone “minimizes how much of your data.”
The ad, second after the last privacy campaign released in the previous year, shows that once Ellie turns on App Tracking Transparency by asking apps to “untrack” activity to share with advertisers or data brokers. The feature was offered to users in April of last year – after some delay due to implementation issues.
While Apple says the feature allows users to choose whether an app can track their activity on other apps and websites to advertise and share patterns with data brokers, it was recently determined that it isn’t foolproof, Developers can reportedly still track users.
The ad also demonstrates the email privacy protection feature that claims to protect information such as your IP address and other data when you send an email to a recipient. It works with the preloaded Mail app available on iPhone, iPad, and Mac devices.
In addition, Apple has features such as Intelligent Tracking Prevention in Safari and Location Services privacy controls that were recently introduced to improve the privacy of iPhone users. The ad’s purpose is to emphasize this offer – to convince people to buy an iPhone.
The recent privacy updates have already helped Apple expand its iPhone market and grow its advertising business as new customers approach the company to show their ads to iPhone users.
Nevertheless, in recent months, Google has been following in Apple’s footsteps and implementing similar changes to Android to make it a strong competitor to iOS – from a privacy standpoint. The company, headquartered in Mountain View, California, released a campaign called “Protected by Android” earlier this week to highlight the native privacy-focused changes of the world’s largest mobile operating system against Apple.
Privacy enhancements available on iOS and Android make it easier for users to restrict tracking on their devices. However, advertisers, data brokers, and marketers are exploring new ways to break through the system-level restrictions and continue to track users to some degree — to maintain their advertising activity. However, the privacy barriers are costing companies, including Meta and Snap, which previously used activity tracking to reach the masses, as it has become more difficult for them to do so today.
That said, Apple’s new ad campaign has launched in 24 countries and will be translated into languages other than English in select markets to reach a wide range of audiences. The company will also create new billboards in each country where the ad is displayed to target its potential customers better.