New Apple-Funded Study Claims Company Didn’t Benefit Financially From App Tracking Transparency

BY Chandraveer Mathur

Published 26 Apr 2022

App Store Unsplash

Today, Apple released the findings of a new study that it funded to demonstrate the impact of the App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework on the mobile advertising industry. The study shows that Apple’s advertising business did not stand to benefit from the ATT policies.

Apple’s latest study has been carried out by Dr. Kinshuk Jerath, Ph.D. from the Columbia Business School. The researcher presently serves as a professor of business in Columbia’s Marketing Division. The professor’s latest study, funded by Apple, appears to be a part of the Cupertino giant’s efforts to dispel confusing narratives in the wake of ATT’s implementation.

The study claims that “Apple offers greater privacy options in its own apps than is required under ATT.” the company argues that its first-party Search Ads business boomed because of a “variety of unrelated reasons.” The statement aims to refute allegations that developers had to increase spending on App Store advertising because ATT took a toll on the efficacy of third-party advertising.

The study also addresses allegations from Big Tech firms such as Facebook and Snap Inc., which alleged that ATT would significantly dent ad revenue. To recall, Facebook went to great lengths to deter Apple and even ran full-page newspaper advertisements alleging that the App Tracking Transparency would be detrimental to small businesses.

“If ATT did lead to a massive revenue reduction for a number of prominent advertising platforms, it is unlikely that Apple would be the significant beneficiary. And if the vast majority of the revenue lost would be likely diverted to Apple’s competitors, it calls into question the notion that Apple introduced ATT to benefit its ads business.”

To explain what analysts termed as a v, the study claims the business would have grown even if ATT never saw the light of day. It also suggests that Apple Search Ads’ debut in China could have played an important role in improving the Cupertino giant’s business metrics.

“First, Apple Search Ads is a relatively new service that was growing even prior to the introduction of ATT. It launched in 2016, and revenues are estimated by industry analysts to have grown into the low single-digit billions. The cost per “tap” on a mobile ad is also estimated to have grown over time, suggesting that advertisers value Apple Search Ads. I have seen no evidence to believe these trends would not suggest further growth in 2021 and beyond, growth which would have occurred even without the introduction of ATT.”

Second, general industry trends and other decisions made by Apple may have contributed to the growth of Apple Search Ads in 2021: Continued overall growth of mobile ads and app install ads, growth of ads in certain app categories, and the launch of Apple Search Ads in China.”

Like other studies that Apple has funded in the past, this one serves to defend its own standpoint and interests. The report could also have a role to play in the mounting pressure of antitrust cases related to the company’s App Store policies. So, we suggest you take the study’s findings with a pinch of salt. The complete study is worth checking out on the company’s website.