How “Sign In With Apple” Will Disrupt the Marketing World

How “Sign In With Apple” Will Disrupt the Marketing World

Written by: Stephanie Bariatti, SMB Media Marketing Consultant 



At Apple’s annual developer’s meeting, WWDC, in early June, the company announced plans to introduce a new feature that will allow users to sign in to apps and websites while protecting their privacy.  “Sign In With Apple” will be part of iOS13, available in the fall, and can be used on the iPhone, Mac, Apple Watch and iPad.  It promises to offer more security than the current sign in options available from Facebook and Google.  In typical Apple fashion, it seems like they are trying to say, “Anything you can do, I can do better.”  Although most of the public will probably view this option in a positive light, it may actually hurt brands in their advertising and marketing operations. 


The Sign In tool will utilize a user’s Apple ID or email as a credential to sign into websites and apps, after verifying your identity via Face ID or fingerprint.  The option will pop up with a look very similar to the icons currently offered by Facebook and Google.  Experts think many Apple users and loyalists will be quick to jump ship to this new third option.  By using your iOS to verify credentials, you will be less vulnerable to being tracked online than using the alternatives.  In addition, you can also get a randomly generated email address to share with apps, instead of your real one, to further protect your identity.

With privacy issues being such a hot topic at the moment, it is no surprise Apple is trying to do all they can to win over their users’ trust.  Promoting their stance as protectors of your personal information is an invaluable selling point for many.  And this is not the only step Apple has taken stop data trafficking.  eMarketer principal analyst Nicole Perrin says, “Apple has already made it difficult for advertisers to identify iOS device users when they’re browsing the web, with Intelligent Tracking Prevention.  'Sign In with Apple' threatens many of the same effects in the app space as well by potentially removing email addresses as a way for advertisers to triangulate identities across devices and channels.”           


Starting several years ago, Apple began implementing their Intelligent Tracking Prevention in Safari, which was an effort to block third-party trackers from capturing cross-site browsing data for ad targeting purposes.  It essentially allowed cookies to be available in third-party contexts for 24 hours only.  This evolved into a more stringent attempt late last year, with Safari either blocking the cookie automatically or prompting the user for permission.  In addition, Safari hides details about your operating system and fonts and specific web pages you have visited.  In other words, your browser will not be able to offer any clues about you, like specific products you view on ecommerce sites.  Apple is also continuously trying to close any loopholes that ad companies try to find to break through these barriers.


All of these efforts taken together have to potential to seriously hinder the way marketers target their desired demos.  Brands rely on this info to tailor their strategies based on your browsing history and habits.  Since Safari is the default browser on Apple products, a huge segment of the population is being unaccounted for.  Furthermore, the Apple Sign In will probably hurt Facebook and Google as well, as people shy away from those seemingly less secure options.   


It will be interesting to see how marketers will learn to work around this roadblock, or if Apple will ever offer their own services to help.  But the fact of the matter is Apple is really not concerned with advertising.  They sell software, so maintaining the same type of relationship that Facebook and Google have with marketers is not their priority.  Solidifying their position as pro-privacy is what will benefit them most.  In January, Apple had a giant billboard ad at the Consumer Electronics Showcase in Las Vegas, which perhaps said it best – “What happens on your iPhone stays on your iPhone.”   



Stephanie Bariatti works as a Consultant and Project Manager for SMB Media Consulting.  She has had extensive experience with many facets of advertising and media, having worked for and with creative agencies, production companies and research departments.  She lives in New York with her wonderful husband, two lovable little boys, a new baby on the way and two snuggly Golden Retrievers.