May 25, 2022
In a new ad released last week, Apple highlights its privacy capabilities by envisioning the sale of a consumer’s data in a real-world, high-stakes auction.
In the place “Privacy on iPhone‘ a young woman, Ellie, stumbles into a secret Sotheby’s-style data broker auction offering her data for sale to the highest bidder. The auction begins with bids being placed on her “delightfully personal” emails, and then moves on to her purchase history and drugstore location data. The auctioneer explains: “It’s not scary! It’s commerce!”
The auction then proceeds to sell her contacts (even her grandma’s), recent transactions, browsing history, and her nightly texting habits.
As the auctioneer is about to give up another coveted piece of her data for bidding, Ellie turns on Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT), which blocks third-party apps from tracking mobile activity, and then Mail Privacy Protection, which helps E – Combat mail trackers. When she turns on the iOS tools, the bidders and finally the auctioneer disappear.
The ad ends with the slogan: “It’s your data. The iPhone is helping to keep it that way.”
For years, Apple has made user privacy features a core part of its hardware and software products, gradually improving anti-tracking and other privacy-related features in iOS and macOS.
Earlier this year, Apple’s CEO addressed the International Association of Privacy Professionals said Tim Koch“A world without privacy is less imaginative, less empathetic, less innovative, less humane,” noting that Apple “is committed to protecting people from a data-industrial complex built on a foundation of surveillance.”
Facebook has warned that Apple’s ATT technology will cost its advertising business $10 billion in 2022, prompting Apple to defend itself against allegations that it benefited significantly from iOS privacy changes over the past year, which have also impacted Snap and Google. Apple has received a lot of praise but also some skepticism about the effectiveness of the iPhone’s privacy protections.
Tech editors praised the new ad for simplifying the complex process of how Cookies work, but some wondered how many consumers care. writing for BGR, Chris Smith explained: “Most internet users accept the compromise of having their data collected for ads in exchange for free services. Apple has argued for years that the compromise isn’t necessary.”
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you think of the effectiveness of Apple’s “Privacy on iPhone” commercial and the value of Apple’s privacy positioning? Have consumers accepted the trade-offs of digital marketing, or is privacy becoming a strong selling point for mobile phones?
“I think this is a powerful ad and a powerful message. Apple has been a leader in privacy and I believe their positioning will resonate with many users.”