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New data suggests iOS users are opting in to tracking much less than previously expected

Research from Verizon-owned Flurry Analytics suggests far fewer Apple users are opting in to app tracking following the company’s recent privacy update than previous estimates had suggested. Specifically, just 5% of US iOS 14.5 users opted in to tracking, as opposed to earlier estimates hovering around 32% or higher. Flurry—which claims its analytics tool is installed in more than 1 million mobile applications—says it has tracked daily opt-in rates through data from 2.5 million daily active mobile users.

The Flurry data presents significantly lower opt-in rates than previous surveys and research had predicted.

  • A January SellCell survey of US iPhone and iPad users found 59% of respondents said they would opt in to tracking that was necessary for apps to “deliver relevant content.”
  • In March, an AppsFlyer study of 300 apps that had adopted Apple’s App Transparency Tracker early found opt-in rates as high as 45% in some categories.
  • Last week, Ad Age and The Harris Poll released a poll of early iOS adopters in the US that found 47% of users with the new update said they would opt in to letting Facebook track them.

Consumers are increasingly voicing concerns over the ways their data is being used and have signaled a willingness to forfeit some advertising benefits for increased privacy. A 2019 Pew poll found that 81% of US adults thought they had very little or no control over data collected from them by companies and governments. This may be influencing attitudes toward tracking: A recent Accountable Tech poll of registered US voters found that 75% of Democrats and 81% of Republicans said they would rather keep their personal data private even if that meant seeing less relevant ads. For context, Facebook and Instagram have started pushing notifications to iOS 14.5 users attempting to persuade them to opt in to tracking.

Though the Flurry data contradicts earlier predictions of consumer opt-in rates, it may ultimately provide a more accurate indication of user attitudes toward tracking. Unlike previous predictions which relied on self-reported intentions drawn from survey data and limited measurements of iOS 14 early adopters, Flurry’s data offers a glimpse into actual quantitative opt-in rates. These figures are less susceptible to subjective survey language, and appear to reflect growing consumer privacy preferences more accurately. That being said, Flurry’s research should be taken with a grain of salt since its parent Verizon has its own digital advertising wing and has a clear incentive to frame Apple’s privacy initiative as damaging to digital ad practices. Flurry’s sample size is also not random, which leaves it susceptible to bias.