The fallout from Apple’s major privacy update is expected to continue well past the first year of its rollout, with a new analysis estimating the change could dent Meta, YouTube, Snap, and Twitter’s revenues by almost $16 billion in total this year.
Introduced on April 26 in 2021, the App Tracking Transparency update forced app developers to ask permission before tracking users across other apps and websites using Apples Identifier for Advertisers. With a vast number of users blocking such tracking, advertisers and tech platforms lost a valuable signal that helps them accurately target and measure their ads.
The change forced many advertisers to reassess their marketing and shift spend into channels that are less reliant on Apple’s tracking identifier, such as offline advertising or Apple’s own search ad products.
New analysis from data management company Lotame, shared exclusively with Insider, estimates that Facebook owner Meta will continue to feel the biggest brunt of Apple’s privacy changes in 2022. Lotame estimates that the change will cause a $12.8 billion hit to Meta’s 2022 revenue, or 9.7%. Meta is due to report earnings on April 27,
Meta warned last year that Apple’s privacy change would create a headwind “on the order of $10 billion” in 2022. The company, like other tech platforms, has been working to introduce new privacy focused measurement and optimization tools to mitigate the effects of the Apple update – though any new tools take a while for advertisers to get up to speed with.
Snap, whose business is almost exclusively focused on mobile, is estimated to feel a similar pinch to its revenue this year — though much smaller in dollar terms. Lotame estimates Snap will take a 9.6% hit to its 2022 revenue, equivalent to about $546 million.
The Snapchat owner said earlier this month that its first quarter had been “more challenging than we had expected,” reflecting the ongoing impact of the Apple changes and also the inflationary environment for advertisers. The company’s revenue grew 38% to $1.06 billion, which fell short of the $1.07 billion analysts had estimated. Snap also reported a net loss of $359.6 million.
Similar to the prior quarter, Snap’s executives said that it will take time before marketers adapt and trust its new measurement and targeting tools.
Google parent Alphabet has a huge ad business of its own, with a ton of data about its swathes of users and a search ads product that didn’t feel the effects of the changes. It also owns the Android operating system that still has an identifier intact, so it reaped the benefits of advertisers shifting away from targeting iOS users. However, the company said last year that Apple users opting out of tracking would have a “modest impact” on YouTube’s revenue.
Lotame estimates that “modest impact” will hit YouTube to the tune of $2.2 billion, or 6.5% of its revenue in 2022. Alphabet is due to report earnings later on Tuesday.
Twitter has also previously said the impact from ATT has been “modest” and would continue to be so through to the first quarter of 2022. The company has said that investments in product improvements made in 2020 and 2021 had paid off. Plus, the company is more focused on brand advertising — designed to pitch a brand to large audience rather than eliciting a direct response — than many of its counterparts.
Lotame estimated that Apple’s privacy update will impact Twitter’s 2022 revenue by $323 million, or 5.4% of its revenue. Twitter is set to report earnings on April 28, though the company’s executives are not holding a conference call in light of the news that the board has accepted Elon Musk’s offer to acquire the company.
Spokespeople for Apple, Meta, Alphabet, Twitter, and Snap either declined to comment or didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment when this article was initially published.
Lotame’s analysis pulled in factors including each platform’s dependence on mobile, their share of iOS users, a 65% average consumer opt-out rate from tracking, and an analysts’ consensus forecast of each company’s 2022 revenue. Given that each platform is still growing at a considerable rate year-on-year, the impact is likely to be reflected in a slowdown in future growth as opposed to a direct setback in topline sales.
Lots could still change. Experts predict that Apple could further disrupt the advertising landscape by enhancing its privacy tools. Meanwhile, the platforms could be affected by supply chain disruptions and other macroeconomic events. Plus, the tech giants are leaning heavily into e-commerce as a way to conduct sales entirely within their own platforms, without the need to rely on third-parties for measurement. Meanwhile, the industry is gearing up for further tracking changes, from Google’s move to kill cookies in Chrome, to upcoming new global privacy regulations.
“As the year progresses, the impact of this particular change will be harder and harder to isolate and will start to get stirred in with other changes that might occur around accessibility to formerly more open media systems,” said Mike Woosley, Lotame’s chief operating officer.
Lotame carried out a similar analysis in October last year and estimated Meta, YouTube, Snap, and Twitter lost $9.85 billion in revenue as a result of Apple’s privacy changes in the second half of 2021, The Financial Times reported.
This article was first published on April 8, 2022. It was updated on April 26, 2022 to coincide with the one-year anniversary of Apple’s privacy update.
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