Apple Ends the IDFA: Challenging the Status-Quo

By Richard Doyle

Apple is challenging the status-quo of the ad industry, and it’s going to have massive impacts. 

It killed the IDFA.

What is the IDFA? It stands for “Identifiers for Advertisers” and it was a tool that monitored iOS users’ data to sell to advertisers in order to analyze their ads and make them more effective. Now it all goes away with the iOS 14.

Apple didn’t actually kill the IDFA, it just changed one major feature that rendered it useless. Whenever a user opens up an app, they are asked directly if they would like to be tracked or not as part of the IDFA. Well you can guess many users are going to say no to being tracked, now that they are presented with such a clear option from the start. 

So why is Apple doing this?

Apple is taking a much stronger user privacy stance, which is extremely rare for a giant tech company. Profiting off of user data and violating privacy has been the norm in the advertising industry for quite some time. Only recently has this strategy been challenged by the public and the government. 

Two years ago Mark Zuckerberg had a meeting with congress about the subject, and although not much came out of it, it did make many aware of what exactly is happening with our data. Soon after this, California created the “California Consumer Privacy Act” that grants consumers control of their own information, the first state to take action and certainly not the last. Very recently advertisers across the board have begun exiting Facebook to boycott its poor ad environment. This has raised the discussion of how things will continue to change as time goes on, will this data monitoring be extremely restricted? Will it just stay the same? And how will it affect the ad industry? 

We’re about to see some answers as the IDFA is ended. Advertisers are going to have to adapt to target iOS users and become less dependant on user data. Many may begin to use Apple’s “SKADNetwork” which is extremely similar to IDFA as it provides advertisers with analytics, but it does not provide any individual user’s information. Meaning an advertiser can see if an ad was engaged, but not who engaged it. 

This could become a happy medium for data monitoring. It provides beneficial information to advertisers without violating user privacy. Although this isn’t as effective as IDFA advertisers will have no other choice if they want to target iOS users. Apple owns its users’ information and is going to start protecting it, giving competitors like Facebook and Google a lot harder time of advertising on their devices.

Apple is setting the standard for how companies should treat their users’ information, and other companies could be pressured into following. If one company can do it, then there is no reason the others can’t. The days of data monetization may soon be behind us and with it, a massive change in the advertising industry. 

How will advertisers adapt? Is this a positive step forward or a risk? What do you think? Let us know!



Koetsier, J. (2020, June). Apple Just Crippled IDFA, Sending An $80 Billion Industry Into Upheaval.

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