Recently Apple announced a series of proposed initiatives at its Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC).
One of these possible changes is a product called Private Relay, which would be included in a proposed premium version of iCloud. According to Apple’s public statements, Private Relay would prevent IP Addresses from being used for tracking. This potential feature is essentially a low-level Virtual Private Network (VPN) for Apple users who subscribe to the service. To quote the Wall Street Journal, “Apple also said premium iCloud users will be able to access the internet with a feature called Private Relay that would block network providers from using IP addresses and web usage to create a user profile for tracking.”
How does this impact El Toro's IP Targeting services?
Long term there are three possible scenarios as to how this could impact El Toro which are discussed in detail below. Since this is a proposed product that, if launched, will not be commercially available until sometime in 2022, with any potential significant user adoption taking much longer. For the next year there is no projected impact on our services. Long-term scenarios are described below:
First, this is a premium product that requires users to pay an added monthly fee, and as such, it is likely that less than 10% of Apple users will ultimately choose to pay to add this service to their iCloud account. Additionally, according to app analytics firm 42 Matters, there are currently 1,265 VPN apps in the iOS App Store. Apple’s entry into this market will be the 1,266th VPN. Whether Apple’s possible entry into this business will simply take market share from these existing providers or encourage more people to pay an added monthly fee for a VPN from Apple is unclear.
Second, Apple is already buckling to pressure from several governments to limit the release of this product. The stance US legislators will take on this product remains to be seen. However, with ongoing intense scrutiny from Congress and state legislatures, it’s clear legislators and regulators will no longer standby and do nothing while Apple (ab)uses its monopolistic power to control an ever-expanding share of the mobile device ecosystem.
Finally, if Private Relay becomes a viable product, it likely only impacts Safari web traffic, and thus will have no impact on the opt-in app data El Toro collects via our app and SDK partners for mobile location intelligence and targeting. Private Relay would ultimately have a small impact on our ability to serve ads. Based on current projections, if 10% of Apple users decided to pay for Private Relay, this would reduce our display ad inventory by less than 2% since only about 18% of our current ad inventory is from Apple’s Safari browser.
We live in exciting times and El Toro’s capacity to engage with our customers in solving complex social challenges is unparalleled. For the first time in human history, new forms of data and increased computational power are available to solve some of the world’s biggest problems. At El Toro, our data and tools have been used to increase voter participation, reduce the transmission of COVID-19, and reduce traffic fatalities, and generate increased revenue collection for local communities and cash strapped governments.
We need to ensure the Internet remains free and fair. We also need to address the fact that too few companies (led by Apple) have too much control over the Internet and the impact it has on people’s daily lives. Finally, we need to ensure that individuals have control over their data and understand the impact of their online decisions.
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