AppsFlyer and MMA Survey Finds Smartphone Owners Highly Concerned About Marketers’ Use of Their Data | MMA Global

AppsFlyer and MMA Survey Finds Smartphone Owners Highly Concerned About Marketers’ Use of Their Data

March 17, 2021

Most consumers are not aware of Apple’s new privacy changes and are not likely to opt-in to share data

SAN FRANCISCO & NEW YORK - March 17, 2021 — AppsFlyer, the global attribution leader, today and MMA Global, the industry body dedicated to driving modern marketing and shaping the future of marketing, released the report, Personal Data, Privacy & Smartphones: The Cautious Consumer. Analyzing how smartphone owners view the upcoming Apple IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers) opt-in requirement and the use of their data in general, the report highlights the need to inform and educate their customer base about data usage. The survey is a follow up to, Apple, IDFA and iOS14: New Challenges, New Opportunities for Marketers, released in October, 2020. 

This new survey found that there is heightened concern among smartphone owners for whom there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to navigating the use of their data by app developers and content providers. The majority, when presented with the new opt-in scenario, were not willing to accept it, but at the same time, only a minority were willing to pay a subscription fee for that content.

“Apple’s planned updates are not widely understood, and if consumers act as they say they will, marketers are going to be severely challenged in how they monetize their apps,” said Brian Quinn, President and General Manager, North America, AppsFlyer. “AppsFlyer and MMA partnered to conduct this survey in order to understand where consumers are in respect to usage of their smartphone data. In turn, we wanted to help marketers understand how to better communicate the value proposition of data usage to their customers. This is a wakeup call to the entire industry about the coming privacy changes that will ultimately force them to turn to more privacy-compliant modes of tracking and better respecting the rights of consumers.”

Key Findings:

  • There is no “one size fits all” approach to privacy and data usage: younger vs. older groups express a marked difference in levels of concern. The youngest are least concerned.
  • A significant number of smartphone users have taken technological action to protect their privacy with ad blockers (used by 47%) and browser extensions (35%) the most common tactics.
  • Why is data collected? Most understand that content is not free and that advertising and data sales pay for it. 
  • There is a marked difference in overall willingness to pay and for what types of content they will pay for. Teens are the most willing to pay for music while millennials are most likely to pay for video. Video overall is the most likely content type people will pay for.
  • Less than 1/3 of smartphone owners are aware of Apple’s privacy changes and when presented with the scenario of how it will work, they find it alarming and on average nearly half (47%) are very unlikely to opt in to tracking.
  • Smartphone owners are divided in terms of how confident they feel to make a decision about tracking and think that Big Tech needs to step in and provide more education.
  • Most understand the negative consequences of not allowing tracking (ads becoming more repetitive & less relevant) but many (45%) still prefer to not allow tracking.
  • While 1/3 of smartphone users will not allow tracking under any circumstances, the majority will allow some form of tracking rather than pay a subscription fee.

Smartphone owners are more likely to believe that companies collect their data to monetize it vs. just improve their experience and they feel that there is a "fairness" issue because they are not getting the perceived value of that data. 

“Marketers are not presenting the value proposition of data usage clearly: free content, ads that are more relevant to their interests, a better user experience with fewer pop ups,” added Quinn. “As marketers, we need to do a better job of communicating, and yes, even negotiating with consumers about the value of their data. Consumers find too much of what we do to be scary, which it shouldn’t be. If indeed there is a fair and clear value exchange taking place, we are able to build better relationships with consumers while at the same time enabling a thriving free app ecosystem.”

“The MMA is committed to helping our industry understand and respond to the major policy shifts, such as Apple’s IDFA announcement, that will have a foundational and long-standing impact on mobile customer engagement,” said Vassilis Bakopoulos, Senior Vice President and Head of Industry Research, MMA Global. “Through our collaboration with AppsFlyer on this survey, we have a better sense of how consumers are thinking about data usage and how in turn, marketers need to adapt their approach. We will use data like this to inform the resources our members need to implement future plans for attribution; understand regulatory limits that are, or may be, imposed by businesses and legislators; and the advanced digital solutions needed to achieve results.”


A quantitative study was conducted using a US consumer panel and a total of N=1500 surveys were completed. Qualifying consumers aged 13+ who own smartphones participated (1000 iPhone users and 500 Android users) with a balance of male/female and various age groups achieved. The survey was fielded from February 5th - February 17th 2021.

Personal Data, Privacy & Smartphones: The Cautious Consumer is available at

About MMA

Comprised of over 800-member companies globally and 15 regional offices, the MMA is the only marketing trade association that brings together the full ecosystem of marketers, martech and media companies working collaboratively to architect the future of marketing, while relentlessly delivering growth today. Led by CMO’s, the MMA helps marketers lead the imperative for marketing change – in ways that enable future breakthroughs while optimizing current activities. The MMA is committed to science and questioning and believes that creating marketing impact is steeped in constructively challenging the status quo encouraging business leaders to aggressively adopt proven, peer-driven and scientific best practices, without compromise. The MMA invests millions of dollars in rigorous research to enable marketers with unassailable truth and actionable tools. By enlightening, empowering and enabling marketers, the MMA shapes future success, while also propelling business growth.

About AppsFlyer

AppsFlyer, the global attribution leader, empowers marketers to grow their business and innovate with a suite of comprehensive measurement and analytics solutions. Built around privacy by design, AppsFlyer takes a customer-centric approach to help 12,000+ brands and 7,000+ technology partners make better business decisions every day. To learn more, visit

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