What do app tracking changes mean for marketers?

Data collection is critical to a successful marketing strategy. The more data a marketer has, the more accurately they can target their campaigns, benchmark success, and make informed decisions about future marketing efforts. 

Unfortunately, the data that is so useful when advertising often comes at the expense of user privacy, and tech companies are taking note. Both Apple and Google have made announcements about current or future restrictions on tracking data across apps on their devices.

These updates are already having implications for marketers who relied on this data for digital advertising, especially on platforms like Facebook. In this blog we’ve broken down:

  • App tracking changes for Apple
  • App tracking changes for Android
  • What it means for marketers and what you can do about it 

App Tracking Changes


Apple rolled out changes to app tracking with the release of iOS 14.5 and App Tracking Transparency in April 2021. 

According to Apple, App Tracking Transparency “allows you to choose whether an app can track your activity across other companies’ apps and websites for the purposes of advertising or sharing with data brokers.” 

With this update, each app will deliver a request to track the user’s activity. Those who opt out by selecting “Ask App Not to Track” will stop the app from accessing a device ID called the system advertising identifier (IDFA). 

Many Apple customers have adopted iOS 14.5 or later and have decided to opt out of app tracking:

  • iOS 15 is used by 63% of all Apple devices (source)
  • Globally, only 46% of users who saw the prompt opt in. (source)
  • The same report found that only 37% of U.S. users allow tracking. 

This update to how apps can track users has already had a significant impact on companies. Both Snap and Peloton, for example, have blamed slow sales on the update, and Facebook’s parent company, Meta, noted that ad targeting has been less effective since the change. In February 2022, Facebook’s operating chief, Sheryl Sandberg, said that Apple Tracking Transparency is making Facebook ads less accurate and driving up the cost of conversions. The company predicted it would lose about $10 billion in revenue because of these changes.


In February 2022, Google announced a multi-year initiative called Privacy Sandbox, which would “operate without cross-app identifiers, including advertising ID.” 

Advertising ID is “a unique, user-resettable ID for advertising.” Android users have had the capability to opt out of advertising ID since late 2021. 

Google intends to develop new technology with Privacy Sandbox that provides useful data to advertisers without sacrificing user privacy. The announcement stated that existing ads platform features will be supported for at least two years, and that the company plans to provide “substantial notice” before making changes.

Impact on Marketers

So what does this mean for marketers? Without the ability to track individual identifiers across apps, the data you get will be less precise. This makes it harder to accurately target and measure ads. 

When tracking is limited, marketers have to rely on modeling. In anticipation of continued limitations with user tracking, websites should use Google Tag Manager and implement Google Analytics 4. Google Analytics 4 is set up to be more flexible with modeling in cases where tracking is lost.

Marketers should also stay up-to-date on the growing trend to protect user privacy. With pushes for cookieless tracking and other privacy-focused measures gaining steam, it’s critical that you be aware of any new developments that can affect your marketing efforts. 

Want to stay current on important digital marketing news? Subscribe to the Pure Visibility newsletter for these and other marketing updates.

Scroll to Top