App Tracking Transparency Numbers Are In!

I’ve been talking about the looming troubles for Facebook (and other app-supported services) on iOS since this past January.

Last week I talked about Facebook’s opening salvo since Apple enabled App Tracking Transparency late last month.

This week, there’s actually some (limited) data showing how users have behaved in the two weeks since iOS 14.5 launched, and the short news is that it’s not good for Facebook.

Most User’s Don’t Want (Excess) Tracking

Flurry is a company that offers app analytics services to developers. Currently, these analytics are used in over 1 million apps that are installed in over 2 billion devices.

In this blog entry, Flurry has been releasing daily “opt-in” rates for users on iOS 14.5 that have tapped “Allow Tracking” when prompted by Apple’s App Tracking Transparency notification.

While there’s not a lot of data on this yet, right now it looks like users – both in the US and worldwide – do not especially want to be tracked! As of this writing (on May 13, 2021) the US opt-in rate has hovered between 4%-6% daily, while the global opt-in rate has been between 11%-15%.

We’re only a bit over 2 weeks into the iOS 14.5 rollout. This number may change over time, as more users update to iOS 14.5, but right now this seems to be very low.

A few things to point out, though.

  • While Flurry has insight into over 2 billion devices, we don’t know how many of those have actually updated to iOS 14.5. The low App Tracking opt-in rate could be because more privacy-focused, early-adopters have updated to iOS 14.5 sooner than the “average” user.
  • These numbers are broken down by “app users” not devices or actual people. For example, if a single users rejects one App Tracking notification but accepts another, those would be counted as two “app users”.
  • I don’t have any good insight into what apps actually use Flurry. It could be that Flurry tends to be used by apps which are more often installed by users who have a desire for more privacy.
  • Finally, we don’t have any breakdown into individual apps (or app categories) that are getting tracking permissions denied or accepted.

Even with these caveats, a high of 15% is a lot lower than many industry analysts predicted. This small survey showed that around 40% of users would allow tracking. A drop from 100% to 40% would be bad, but dropping to under 20% is much worse.

Note: An interesting detail in the survey article above says that Facebook makes $164/year per user in the US and Canada. Since Facebook threatened to start charging customers last week, I wonder what percentage of users would pay $150 (or even $100) annually for Facebook?

In any case, this is very interesting information. Since these numbers are updated daily (at least for the near future), it will be interesting to see if there are any meaningful changes over the coming weeks.