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Apple's new single sign-on feature has advertisers quaking over the marketing implications

Business Insider | Jun 5, 2019, 03.01AM IST

Tim Cook

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  • Apple revealed a "Sign in with Apple" service at its WWDC that is sending ripples through the advertising world.
  • Apple is pitching it as a privacy friendly move and it follows similar moves by Facebook and Google.
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Apple just unveiled a bunch of privacy moves, and like Facebook and Google's before it, the moves are sending ripples through the advertising world.

The "Sign in with Apple" service revealed at Apple's WWDC on Monday lets users sign in to Apple devices in a secure way, and Apple is pitching it as a privacy friendly move.

Read more: Google's looming privacy changes could shake up ad retargeting - and advertisers are scrambling to find alternatives

"They're very protective of their users' data and they don't want to get caught in some kind of Facebook breach," said a senior ad buyer, speaking anonymously because he wasn't authorized to speak about Apple. "They realize once you're in the Apple ecosystem, you don't want to leave, so the more they can offer you, the better."

Of course, that's exactly what drives advertisers crazy because it makes it harder for them to retarget users.

The end of an era

For Forrester analyst Jay Pattisall, Apple, Facebook and Google's increased emphasis on consumer privacy represents the end of advertisers using mass and cheap digital marketing as an optimization strategy. Marketers that have used cheap digital advertising inventory, particularly display, search and social as a testing ground to bombard consumers with thousands of ads will no longer be able to do that, he said.

Apple introducing single sign-on and blocking access to apps tracking location data with the "just once" option complicates digital measurement for marketers further, said Philip Hyunh, VP of paid social at 360i. A brand running an ad campaign across Facebook and YouTube on an Apple device will get three different sets of measurement data corresponding to each ecosystem.

"It will be hard to dissociate that data and see that as one person rather than four people, which makes it more challenging," Hyunh said. "None of these walled gardens share information."

Apple's single sign-on puts brands' first-party data in jeopardy, Hyunh added. More people will presumably use the feature over sharing their emails with marketers' apps repeatedly, which not only gives brands less data but also hampers their ability to communicate with their consumers.

"It weakens the actual data and type of data that brands have, and makes measurement even harder," Hyunh said.

A pivot to advertising for Apple?

Pattisall predicted a move back to creativity as companies like Apple clamp down on avenues to data.

"Now that they will not have the ability to use actual inventory in-market to run tests because it's relatively inexpensive, the pendulum will swing back toward creativity," Pattisall said.

Apple has never been a big player in the advertising game, making most of its money from sales of hardware, which is why it can afford to have policies that are unfriendly to advertisers. But the senior ad buyer said this privacy move could actually help set up Apple to get deeper into advertising.

"They'll be able to up their ad game if they decide to do so," he said. "They'll have access to all this data you can only buy through their ecosystem."

Get the latest Google stock price here.

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