Apple Capitulates To Senator Demands, Sends Exec To Hearing; AppsFlyer Claims Opt-In Rates Will Be High

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Socially Awkward

When big tech critic Sen. Amy Klobuchar requests that you attend an antitrust hearing, it’s best that you listen. Apple stoked Klobuchar’s ire and that of Sen. Mike Lee when the company reportedly refused to make anyone available to testify at a hearing on competition in mobile app stores set for April 21. Per Business Insider, Apple is now doing an about face, saying that it will indeed send an exec after the two senators wrote to Apple CEO Tim Cook. Apple insists this was all a misunderstanding and that the plan always was to send someone; it was just seeking alternative dates. So, who’s hopping on a plane to DC? Apple will send its chief compliance officer, Kyle Andeer, to testify at the hearing. We’re sure lawmakers will wear kid gloves during questioning.

Beg To Differ

A recent study by AppsFlyer suggests that AppTrackingTransparency (ATT) opt-in rates could be higher than expected when Apple rolls out its upcoming iOS 14.5 updates – as high as 45% in some categories. But Eric Seufert, a media strategist and editor of Mobile Dev Memo, begs to differ. In a blog post, he wrote that ATT opt-in rates are irrelevant because the industry is confused about how opt-in rates will impact mobile advertising efficiency. There are a few factors that render opt-in rates, and especially the opt-in rate of any individual app, mostly insignificant. For one, the ATT opt-in metrics being reported now are sampled from biased data. Many developers, he writes, are currently running ATT prompt tests to establish opt-in baselines and to optimize pre-prompt designs. But it’s not clear whether a user is more (or less) inclined to opt into tracking when they see the ATT prompt for the first time. In Seufert’s view “it’s impossible to make sense of ATT opt-in rates as they are measured now, and I think it’s foolhardy to extrapolate those numbers to the post-ATT environment.” (mic drop)

Workarounds

Speaking of ATT, companies are still trying to maneuver around Apple. As AdExchanger reported Monday, P&G ain’t the only one involved in the development of the Chinese IDFA workaround known as CAID. But Digiday reports that trying to stay one step ahead of Apple’s in-app tracking crackdown is becoming riskier now that Apple is rejecting apps that seemingly flout its privacy policy. Although some companies, like mobile measurement platform Adjust, are falling in line – in early April, Adjust quickly removed code that appeared to enable fingerprinting – others are simply using a version of fingerprinting that’s harder to track. Let the cat and mouse game commence. [Related in AdExchanger: “Apple Is Rejecting Apps That Use Third-Party Code For Alleged Privacy Infractions.”]

Preet’s Podcast

Vox Media is bolstering its podcasting offerings through the acquisition of Cafe Studios, a podcast company co-founded by Preet Bharara (yes that Preet Bharara, the former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York). Deadline reports that Bharara and executive producer and head of content Tamara Sepper will join Vox Media under the new agreement. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Vox Media’s podcasts number more than 200, and the Cafe Studios acquisition marks a trend for Vox Media, which has been pretty acquisitive over the last three years. Vox Media made headlines in late 2019 when it bought New York Media, the publisher of New York Magazine and digital outlets, such as The Cut and Vulture. Vox also purchased Epic, a production studio, and the commenting platform Coral. Bharara, who prosecuted nearly 100 Wall Street executives for insider trading and securities fraud, among other high-profile cases, hosts Cafe’s flagship podcast, Stay Tuned With Preet. Cafe Studios also operates a subscription program that offers members access to exclusive podcasts, newsletters, articles and live events.

But Wait, There’s More!

Advertisers still have a lot of questions as Google opens FLoC to external trials. [Adweek]

Google is shutting down its mobile Shopping app. [The Verge

Narrative is working on a tool called Data Shops that aims to help companies quickly stand up a data business. [release]

Apple has been a bit of laggard in the smart home space, but a versatile new device in early development – a TV box combined with a speaker – could change that. [Bloomberg]

A deep dive on email newsletter platform Substack, which is enabling a shift in power toward individual writers and direct payments that isn’t without complications and broader implications. [NYT]

Octopus Interactive, a VC-backed startup that places screens inside of Uber and Lyft vehicles, will now be included in Nielsen’s Digital Content Ratings. [NextTV]

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