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Ad agencies are sad that Apple cares about your privacy


Fears about online privacy have resonated worldwide in recent years. It's simple enough to understand; the amount of personal information we now share with businesses online is staggering. Once upon a time I watched my grandfather get into a near shouting match with a Blockbuster video that wanted his credit card on file. Meanwhile, I could probably name 30 online retailers who have access to my card, along with a handy history of my purchases.

Thankfully, Apple doesn't share the same view as its major competitor Google, whether it is with regards to selling your information to advertisers or handing it over to the government. Apple even has a lovely Commitment to Customer Privacy online that you can read whenever you need reassurance. Almost as if to remove the temptation to sell or use your information, the company simply doesn't hoard personal information.

Apple has always placed a priority on protecting our customers' personal data, and we don't collect or maintain a mountain of personal details about our customers in the first place. There are certain categories of information which we do not provide to law enforcement or any other group because we choose not to retain it.

This philosophy extends to sharing user data with advertisers, and according to new article at Adage, it's a reflection of a perceived arrogance that makes it hard for Apple to build relationships with Madison Avenue for its iAd service. Adage seems to think this is a bad thing but, as someone whose invested thousands of dollars into Apple products, I couldn't help but read their complaints with glee.

What makes Apple so arrogant? It basically boils down to not wanting to share all of your delicious, savory, profitable data.

The lack of data both companies deliver is frustrating for marketers because these notoriously opaque giants sit atop incredible troves of information about what consumers actually buy and like, as well as who they are and where they live. One person familiar with the situation exec said Apple's refusal to share data makes it the best-looking girl at the party, forced to wear a bag over her head.

As frustrating as that is for advertisers and Adsense, some readers will breath a sigh of relief when they realize the scope of Apple information access -- addresses, geolocation information, app, music, and video purchase histories, and all the assorted metadata that comes with it. However, since Apple's data collection doesn't come from online cookies, advertisers have to go to the company, request their desired audience data, and then wait for whatever Apple chooses to provide.

It's obvious why this is an issue for advertisers. If they had their ideal world, we'd have to fill out monthly product surveys to use free services like Gmail. Having to ask meekly for access to information that other companies like Google are happy to sell must be frustrating.

That's the advantage Apple has on the advertising front. It doesn't need iAd. Most of its sales come from a closed market place (iTunes) or from proprietary hardware sales. The iAd program is almost an afterthought for the company, giving them the freedom to protect user data in ways Google can't -- or won't -- do. As more questions about the privacy of our digital lives are raised every week, it's reassuring to know that Apple is taking a measured approach to opening doors to third parties, even if it makes them look arrogant to other monied interests.

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