Smartphone Owners highly concerned about Marketers’ use of their Data

AppsFlyer and MMA Globalreleased the report, Personal Data, Privacy & Smartphones: The Cautious Consumer. Analyzing how smartphone owners view the upcoming Apple IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers) opt-in requirement and the use of their data in general, the report highlights the need to inform and educate their customer base about data usage. The survey is a follow up to, Apple, IDFA and iOS14: New Challenges, New Opportunities for Marketers, released in October, 2020.


This new survey found that there is heightened concern among smartphone owners for whom there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to navigating the use of their data by app developers and content providers. The majority, when presented with the new opt-in scenario, were not willing to accept it, but at the same time, only a minority were willing to pay a subscription fee for that content.

“Apple’s planned updates are not widely understood, and if consumers act as they say they will, marketers are going to be severely challenged in how they monetize their apps,” said Brian Quinn, President and General Manager, North America, AppsFlyer. “AppsFlyer and MMA partnered to conduct this survey in order to understand where consumers are in respect to usage of their smartphone data. In turn, we wanted to help marketers understand how to better communicate the value proposition of data usage to their customers. This is a wakeup call to the entire industry about the coming privacy changes that will ultimately force them to turn to more privacy-compliant modes of tracking and better respecting the rights of consumers.”

Key Findings:

  •     There is no “one size fits all” approach to privacy and data usage: younger vs. older groups express a marked difference in levels of concern. The youngest are least concerned.
  •     A significant number of smartphone users have taken technological action to protect their privacy with ad blockers (used by 47%) and browser extensions (35%) the most common tactics.
  •     Why is data collected? Most understand that content is not free and that advertising and data sales pay for it.
  •     There is a marked difference in overall willingness to pay and for what types of content they will pay for. Teens are the most willing to pay for music while millennials are most likely to pay for video. Video overall is the most likely content type people will pay for.
  •     Less than 1/3 of smartphone owners are aware of Apple’s privacy changes and when presented with the scenario of how it will work, they find it alarming and on average nearly half (47%) are very unlikely to opt in to tracking.
  •     Smartphone owners are divided in terms of how confident they feel to make a decision about tracking and think that Big Tech needs to step in and provide more education.
  •     Most understand the negative consequences of not allowing tracking (ads becoming more repetitive & less relevant) but many (45%) still prefer to not allow tracking.
  •     While 1/3 of smartphone users will not allow tracking under any circumstances, the majority will allow some form of tracking rather than pay a subscription fee.

Smartphone owners are more likely to believe that companies collect their data to monetize it vs. just improve their experience and they feel that there is a “fairness” issue because they are not getting the perceived value of that data.

“Marketers are not presenting the value proposition of data usage clearly: free content, ads that are more relevant to their interests, a better user experience with fewer pop ups,” added Quinn. “As marketers, we need to do a better job of communicating, and yes, even negotiating with consumers about the value of their data. Consumers find too much of what we do to be scary, which it shouldn’t be. If indeed there is a fair and clear value exchange taking place, we are able to build better relationships with consumers while at the same time enabling a thriving free app ecosystem.”


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