Has Apple set the scene for its next small big thing?

Aimed at developers, App Analytics in App Store Connect provides a window through which they can explore important app metrics....

Apple, iOS, Mac, privacy, advertising, developers

App Analytics in App Store Connect offers app developers a way to explore important app metrics such as transactions, redownloads, total downloads, pre-orders and updates; developers can drill down for insights into territory, source, device and so on, allowing them to understand and develop key app markets.

That’s great for developers, but what does it mean to enterprise users? For most, it’s an opportunity.

What's in it for enterprises?

Companies with B2B or B2C apps can dive inside the information made available by users to extend their reach and better understand their customer base — what works, what doesn’t, and where core customers are located.

(You don’t gain access to individual addresses, of course. But the insights Apple provides can help companies determine the key locations in which their app succeeds.)

It’s also possible to measure the impact of marketing campaigns across multiple outlets. You can measure downloads from Smart App Banners in Safari and monitor the impact on sales/engagement of your marketing campaigns.

All of this can help businesses offering iOS apps build a deeper connection and understanding with their mobile customers, but it’s a drop in the ocean in terms of the quantity of data Apple’s devices have on what we do. Your iPhone even knows how many times a day it gets picked up. So, it’s better the information is kept on the device, rather than being shared.

What about the rest of us?

Apple has encountered vats of criticism for its stance on privacy. The decision to provide Do Not Track, Privacy Labels, and App Transparency (which needs improvement) and Ad Tracking controls annoyed surveillance capitalist firms such as every UK student’s chum and now PR at Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook, Nick Clegg and the usual motley bedlam of data warehousing firms; it also upset some publishers.

But what Apple is also doing is creating a shadow (but highly visible and publicly stated) counteracting infrastructure that provides app developers (now) and presumably publishers (perhaps via Apple News) with at least some of the information they need to track ads, assess projects and gather all the other data they complained so bitterly that Apple was removing.

The difference is that this information will be transparent.

Services, services, services (soon)

We all anticipate Apple will expand its own ad business. This has been speculated upon for months. It’s also clear that what Apple is telling us with its new App Analytics is that its system is quite capable of gathering at least some of the information advertisers want.

We’ve also heard some chatter that the company will explore some way to make some of this information available to third parties, if only to avoid additional regulatory scrutiny

At the end of the day, while Facebook may accuse Apple of hypocrisy in terms of aligning privacy to its own business interests, think how much more money Cupertino’s bean counters could be counting on if the company had chosen to turn you into the product?

It would be a lot.

What’s wrong with the notion that Apple may be building up to offer a completely private, yet personalized, ad model capable of serving up ads you want to see without anyone but you and your device knowing it happened?

The worm in the apple

I do see that as a tempting project, but generally side with Benedict Evans, who argues that Apple’s historical failure with iAds and Apple’s own corporate culture may prevent it from fully exploiting the opportunity to build its own ad business.

Still, Apple could quite easily create a platform ad providers could use to target private and secure ads at people on its platform. With an “Opt Out of Advertising” button, of course — after all, people who ignore ads are not the target market, so let them go.

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Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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