Apple iOS 14.5 Users Might Be More Amenable To Being Tracked By Brands: Ad Age-Harris Poll

Consumers are worried about having personal data collected, but aren’t taking measures to stop it

By Mike Juang | Ad Age | May 4, 2021

Apple’s system update has kept the ad world on edge as iOS 14.5 now requires users to opt in to sharing data and being tracked by apps. The belief has been that when delivered the choice, consumers would be reluctant to share their data. But according to a new Ad Age-Harris Poll, while consumers are concerned about data collection, most aren’t taking steps to actively avoid it.

In fact, iPhone users who have gone through the update are actually more willing to share their iPhone data than those who are still on the old operating system.

Apple’s rollout last week of its most recent iOS 14.5 update introduced several new privacy features, most notably a pop-up that would force apps to ask users for permission to track them around apps and across the internet. Ad tech companies worried the changes could restrict businesses that rely on using customer data to build advertising profiles and deliver targeted audiences.

Surprisingly, iPhone users on the most recent iOS 14.5 update are slightly more willing than users not on 14.5 to allow social media and shopping apps to track and share their iPhone data. The poll shows 47% of those running the latest update would allow Facebook to track and share iPhone data, compared to 19% of users not running 14.5. Likewise, 36% of users running 14.5 would allow TikTok to track and share iPhone data compared to just 21% of users who haven’t updated. And in a bellwether for how shopping and commerce apps are likely to be received, 44% of users running 14.5 would allow Nike to track and share iPhone data compared to 31% of iPhone users not running the latest update.

Pop-ups are also unpopular with users, even if they help communicate data privacy choices; 63% of U.S. adults say they have an unfavorable opinion of mobile pop-ups, whether from apps, websites or the phone’s operating system. The results vary slightly for Apple device users, with 43% of iPhone users more likely to have a favorable opinion of pop-ups that provide transparency on data collection compared to 37% of other smartphone users.

The Ad Age-Harris Poll also indicates millennials tend to be more security minded than their Gen Z counterparts: 77% of millennial users find pop-ups too intrusive compared to 61% of Gen Z users, while 55% of millennial users have a somewhat favorable view of data collection pop-ups compared to 40% of Gen Z users. Millennials — 42%– are also more likely to have done research to understand how the data collected by apps is used, compared to 31% of Gen Z users and 29% of all U.S. adults.

Concern about personal data collection remains high, with 70% of U.S. adults at least somewhat concerned about personalized internet ads. But that concern is not translating into action, with only 32% of adults opting out of seeing them on social media apps. Gen Z users are reportedly the least concerned age group, with only 53% somewhat concerned about personalized ads.

Uptake of Apple’s newest operating system is moving quickly, with 67% of respondents saying they’ve updated their phone to iOS 14.5 since it rolled out on April 26.

The Ad Age-Harris Poll was conducted online inside the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Ad Age between April 30 and May 3 2021, surveying 1,061 U.S. adults age 18 or older.

Read the full story at Ad Age.