How Apple might break fingerprinting in iOS 16
Here's one theory for why Apple has done so little (i.e., nothing) to police fingerprinting violations after the
AppTrackingTransparency rollout: they're building a technical solution instead.
When we got Private Relay in iOS 15, that provided half of the answer (traffic that goes via the relay can't be fingerprinted…which is the whole point of it), but the missing piece was whether Apple would be willing to foot the bill for relaying all in-app iOS traffic in order to prevent 'tracking' inside apps too — your Google searches are one thing, but proxying all of your Netflix streams is an order of magnitude different.
As Eric Seufert explains here, we now have a model for how Apple might close that loop: the SDK Runtime proposal in Google's Privacy Sandbox. If Apple brings the same concept to iOS, they'll have a technical way to block 'tracking' without needing to handle all native app traffic for every iOS user.
(For what it's worth, I also think this is likely.)
The practicality of data clean rooms: Use cases
Over the last few months, AppsFlyer has been publishing a number of articles about their in-development Data Clean Room product. For those of us still getting up to speed on that space, here is another piece that ticks through a variety of real-world mobile use cases.
I feel all of the examples given here are valid, technically possible, and quite interesting to consider… but there's still a critical missing link: how Apple/Google/privacy regulators will view these solutions.
For example, ATT on iOS limits usage of data for ad 'tracking', period. That's a categorical prohibition, and there is no convenient carve-out that makes things OK if the data is going into a double-blind system (like a data clean room) first.
In other words, data clean rooms might be the equivalent of 'data laundering', but they're likely still going to count as tracking under the letter of the policy.
Apple Clashes With UK Regulator in Fierce Response to Warning That Could Require It to 'Redesign the iPhone'
Apple and the UK's competition regulator (the CMA) have been going back and forth for a while now.
At the end of January, the CMA published an interim report for their ongoing investigation, which is simultaneously extremely long and reassuringly nuanced.
Apple's response, released this week, is also long. I found that sections D (The IR’s consideration of mobile browsers and browser engines) and E (Apple’s Privacy Initiatives) provide a fairly comprehensive summary of Apple positions on these topics. You may not agree with them, but they're clearly stated and have been quite consistent over time.
Chartboost And Zynga 10 Months In: ‘All Roads Lead To First-Party Data’
If you've seen 'first-party data' popping up all over the place recently, it's because many see it as a safe haven against much of the signal loss brought by various privacy changes. Increasing the size of the first-party data pool is part of the reason we've seen so much industry consolidation in the past two years.
In this article, we get a look back at how some of that is working out.
By the way, if you're interested in learning more first-party data, I'll be moderating an all-star panel on this topic next week! You can find out more here: How Are Apps Using First-Party Data to Drive Growth?
Twitter Shops: More space to shop
'Content fortresses' are simply another manifestation of first-party data: they bring the advertiser's conversions into the publisher's own app (instead of sending users somewhere else…which might not be trackable anymore).
We've seen a proliferation of these recently, from almost every major social platform, and now Twitter is getting into the game too.
Checks simplifies privacy compliance for app developers
This announcement is 'from Google', but there's an asterisk on that: it's an Area 120 project. These in-house incubator products happen in parallel to Google's main development workstreams.
That means Checks could fizzle out…or it could be wildly successful and end up incorporated into a primary product line — one could easily imagine this supporting the SDK Runtime initiative in future.
Tips & Techniques
Are You Hurting Your Organic Success Without Knowing? Here's How to Check
Despite work from Apple and Google over the years, the built-in App Store/Play Store search features are…still not an ideal way to discover new apps. In my opinion, App Store Optimization is not worth much time or effort unless you've already maxed out your investment in other, out-of-store growth strategies.
However, you should probably have at least the fundamentals of ASO in place. This guide has some good tips.
Swiping vs Tapping, What is Less Distracting to Drivers?
Remember how radical it was when the first iPhone came with no physical keyboard? I'm sure many of us had at least one friend who claimed we would have to pry their BlackBerry from their cold, dead hands (RIP…).
Well, a similar transition — buttons being replaced with touchscreens — is happening now with car infotainment systems. And if you wanted to find out whether swiping or tapping was a better, less-distracting interaction mode for drivers, how would you test it?
Casper Kessels decided to find out, so he built a sample app and a driving rig in his bedroom. Here are the results!
We all know mobile devices are no longer just gadgets…they have become a primary interface to most of our existence.
With the current situation in eastern Europe, this shows up in mobile app usage patterns for Ukraine and Russia. Ariel Michaeli at AppFigures has been looking into trends, and has found a number of notable things:
Stop aggregating away the signal in your data
This is not strictly an article about mobile, but it's very relevant to anyone who does data analysis as part of their job (which is most mobile marketers!)
It's always tempting to simplify data as much as possible, but using brute-force methods to squash the granularity in your dataset is often counterproductive. In fact, it can ruin the opportunity to find far more useful insights (a frustration certainly known first-hand by anyone who has tried to work with the output of SKAdNetwork…)
VP, Strategy & Product @ Adobe: Loni Stark
Digital Disruption & Tackling Decade Long Problems
At Stanford and in her early work, Loni learned how many critical components there are to a product's success, like the right partners, vendors, timing, and market need. She discusses the bittersweet challenge of solving long term problems, and she dives into how switching to the cloud was one of those challenges for Adobe and how they came out successfully.
Mobile Growth Online: Women in Mobile
When: Tue, Mar 22, 12:00 PM (PDT).
Panelists: CAVA, FOX, Personal Capital.
Do you have a mobile growth role you’d like to share with the community?
Just fill out this form — it’s free!
- ShiftMed | Conversion Rate Optimization Specialist — remote
- DraftKings | Multiple mobile-related roles — Boston, MA
- Branch | Senior Content Strategist — remote
We all know what the main news story has been for the last few weeks, and it clearly has nothing to do with mobile. But that doesn't mean it has no impact on the mobile community: most of us likely have friends and colleagues either in Ukraine or nearby.
I am not qualified to comment on geopolitical issues, so I shan't even try. But if you are able, please consider donating, or attending a rally, or getting in touch with your elected representatives. Any of those is a better use of your time right now than reading this newsletter!Alex Bauer