Facebook Says Apple’s iOS Changes Could Cut its Ad Revenue in Half

Facebook is integrating its chat systems on Messenger and Instagram. (Photo: Carl Court, Getty Images)
Photo: Carl Court, Getty Images

This post originally appeared on Gizmodo UK, which is gobbling up the news in a different timezone.

Apple has made some changes to the upcoming version of iOS, iOS 14, that Facebook says will lose it a tonne of money.

Tiny violins at the ready, everyone.

The changes mean that users will be outright asked if an app can collect and share their data. This means those ads that follow you around the internet will no longer be able to target you on apps outside Facebook without your permission.

At the moment, you can opt out of those ads, but most people don’t (they likely don’t even know they can). Now, they’ll have to opt in, and it doesn’t seem likely that many people will.

According to Facebook, ads that follow you around are extremely effective: “users targeted in this way are eight times more likely to buy products,” per the BBC. That’s good for Facebook and advertisers, but not necessarily for us users. (Also, we’re wary of trusting Facebook’s stats on literally anything after the infamous video metrics situation).

Facebook uses a tool called Audience Network to target ads by identifying users with an ID code tied to their likes and data on Facebook. This code allows advertisers to “extend their campaigns beyond Facebook and into other mobile apps.”

However, Facebook says the new changes might mean they can’t use Audience Network at all on iOS 14. In a blog post calling for industry consultation on the issue, Facebook said:

“We expect these changes will disproportionately affect Audience Network given its heavy dependence on app advertising. Like all ad networks on iOS 14, advertiser ability to accurately target and measure their campaigns on Audience Network will be impacted, and as a result publishers should expect their ability to effectively monetize on Audience Network to decrease.

Ultimately, despite our best efforts, Apple’s updates may render Audience Network so ineffective on iOS 14 that it may not make sense to offer it on iOS 14.”

Meanwhile, Apple and Facebook are also squaring off about the 30 per cent charge that got Epic Games so riled up recently. It’s Alien vs Predator, and as the film slogan put it, “whoever wins, we lose.” [BBC]