Apple is reducing the overall efficiency of location-based marketing campaigns by introducing mandatory opt-in pop-ups across all devices in iOS 13.
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This move may seem strange coming from the smartphone giant who, in the past, has been keen on giving marketers and developers plenty of location-based tools. But, with the ever-increasing focus on data privacy, the marketing world is evolving. And Apple is helping lead the charge.
So, how does iOS 13 impact location-based marketing, and what does this mean for the future of targeting?
But it's more than just mandatory opt-in pop-ups. There are a few features contained within this location-based consent update.
Users can decide how often apps track their location, with the options Never, Ask Next Time, While Using the App, and Always
Users now get a periodic map pop-up of all locations tracked via the app
Users now receive an "Allow Bluetooth Access" pop-up that directly informs them that "apps may also use Bluetooth to know when you're nearby"
Apps can no longer see WiFi names without a location opt-in
At first glance, these updates may seem in line with expectations. But, last week, Ad Age released a post entitled "Apple's Latest Update Cripples Location-based Marketing" that questions both the copy of the pop-up and the overall impact that this pop-up will have on location-based data.
Do these updates tilt the playing field?
After WWDC, some prominent app developers immediately co-signed a document claiming that these new opt-in features were anti-competitive. The argument was primarily aimed at Apple — who doesn't ask for an opt-in for its own apps, which has been seen as a double standard. But, Ad Age adds an additional point — this new update may hurt apps that don't feel like they need a location.
Let's say that you're responsible for marketing for a fitness app. When that app asks users for permission to access their location, they're probably going to say yes, right? After all, it seems like a health-related app would definitely need access to your location.
It just feels... right.
Now, let's say that you're responsible for an e-commerce app. When that app asks to use location-based services, many users are going to say no, right? After all, it seems like an e-commerce-related app definitely would not need to access your location.
It just feels... wrong.
But what if the e-commerce app needs user locations to deliver hyper-relevant coupons? And what if the health app just wants to sell location data? For users, there's no way to know. They're simply presented with a pop-up without context.
There isn't room to explain to users the benefits of sharing location-based data.
This may mean that certain app categories will be able to tap into location-based analytics while others may struggle. This could create a data chasm between developers, giving certain apps a clear upper hand — and creating difficulty for marketers.
Being able to tap into location-based data also has a wealth of benefits outside of campaigns. Combining location-based data with data pools and other analytical tools can give businesses incredible customer insights.
But now, businesses have to be aware of the pop-up. Without any room to express intent, finding ways to gather location-based data in the Apple ecosystem is going to be more difficult.
Does this mean an increase in location-based data prices? Will alerting users of disabled features urge them to opt-in?
For now, we don't have the answers. We only know that location-based marketing is changing.
What’s more, consumers already seem to like the change. While this may be smart marketing from Apple — or even a move to appease regulatory bodies — the majority of consumers are already worried about privacy, and Apple's latest update may be seen by users as a step in the right direction.
But do consumers know what they could be missing out on when they opt-out? Location-based offers and geotargeting isn't only powerful for marketers; it helps consumers access personalized services.
Since over 79% of consumers claim they will only interact with personalized ads and offers, this new update may have far-reaching consequences.