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Apple Allows iPhone Users to Opt Out of Targeted iAds

Apple Allows iPhone Users to Opt Out of Targeted iAds

Advertising networks are getting more sophisticated everyday. And while some of us appreciate it when Amazon knows us better than ourselves and can recommend our next great read, some people find it creepy when the advertisers seem to know too much.
When Steve Jobs announced iAds during WWDC, he touted it as a revolutionary way to make mobile advertising more engaging for iPhone users and more profitable for app developers. Like virtually all platforms on the web today, iAds collects certain user data in order to send more relevant ads your way. This could be something as simple as what time of day it is or what country you’re from or something more complex, such as how many travel-related apps you have installed on your iPhone and how often you use them. This manifests itself by displaying certain ads that the iAds network believes you are interested in more often than ones it thinks you might not be interested in.
For iPhone users who feel that this service may be too intrusive, they can opt out of targeted ads by visiting from their iPhone. Upon visiting, they will see a screen that says “You have successfully opted-out.” It’s a simple process that takes less than 30 seconds to complete. But is it worth it?
Opt Out Screen for iAds
In terms of ads, you won’t see less ads—you’ll simply see a more random selection of ads. It’s likely that you’ll see ads that are less interesting to you. While it may ease your mind to know that less data is being collected about your iPhone usage, you may find yourself being more annoyed by ads that have nothing to do with your interests.
When it comes to how much data is being collected, you should know that this only opts you out from Apple’s iAds network. Other advertising networks that have partnered with app developers may still collect usage data from your phone. Furthermore, Apple will still collect location data from your phone. This is necessary for the functioning of many iPhone apps. You can, of course, disable location-based services altogether, but this hinders many of the best features of the iPhone.
But in terms of the real impacts of opting out of target advertising, it’s important to take into consideration why such technology exists. iAds was meant to make developing apps more profitable and advertising on the iPhone more effective. If iPhone users opt out of targeted advertising en masse, it could mean less revenue for app developers and thus less free, high quality apps.
While there are legitimate concerns that a company could potentially overreach in its data collection, what type of harm could actually be done by allowing an advertising network to collect anonymous data about what types of apps you use bears serious consideration. Is it worth hurting the bottom-line of the app developers to opt out on principle?
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