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Apple touts privacy and builds meaningful difference

August 2022

This is a self-funded case study using our Ad Testing solution.

As your online walkabout takes you to this Cuberiffic corner of the internet, have you spared a thought for the (digital) breadcrumbs left trailing behind you? If your answer to this question is ‘yes’, then you’re not alone. According to a recent study, 90% of consumers are at least somewhat concerned about their online privacy, while 61% feel they have little to no control over how their information is used by companies.

Enter Apple and their ambitious goal of giving power back to the people. Squarely positioning themselves as the ‘good guys’ within the tech sphere, Apple has been increasingly looking to capitalize on the moral high ground of having never relied on revenue from ads or customer data (unlike some other well-known digital behemoths… ahem, Meta and Google). With a developing reputation for being a beacon of consumer privacy, Apple has spotlighted their new tracking permissions feature in their latest privacy-focused instalment: 'Data Auction’.

With this in mind, we tested how well Apple allayed the fears of smartphone users using our 3Cs methodology:

  • Captivate: Be emotive; stand out and grab attention.
  • Connect: Be recognizable; synergize with expectations.
  • Compel: Be motivating; drive behavioral change.


‘Data Auction’ performed admirably, turning a sensitive topic into something more light-hearted. While the subject of data vulnerability understandably roused feelings of anxiety, this only served to heighten the impact of an eventual uplifting resolve. People enjoyed the cinematic production and clever storyline which saw a young girl’s private data being auctioned off to the highest bidder. The fantastical setting brought to life a complex issue in a distinctive and engaging way.

Apple Data Auction - Advertising Testing - Captivate



The suspenseful build-up enabled the story to retain high levels of engagement prior to Apple graciously stepping in as the savior from corporate evils. Although the topic of data security isn’t yet something people uniquely attribute to Apple, the brand has made great strides in this area over recent years — making a concerted push (2019, 2020) to put privacy at the heart of its proposition.

Apple Data Auction - Ad Testing - Connect



Apple’s pairing of its rich creative roots together with being champions of consumer privacy and data protection has started to embed itself into the psyche of consumers. Despite this being the third instalment in the ‘Privacy’ series, emphasis on the iPhone’s ability to turn off pervasive tracking resulted in people taking away something new and different about the brand. Perhaps most importantly, this information was highly believable and relevant — strengthening Apple’s reputation for being trustworthy and privacy-focused.

Apple Data Auction - Advertising Testing - Compel


What are the learnings for marketers?

‘Short-termism’ is a phrase often talked about in the marketing community, thanks to the pioneering work of Les Binet and Peter Field. With so much emphasis placed on measuring marketing impacts through short-term sales alone, what often gets overlooked is advertising’s role in building brands over the long-term. This is a phenomenon Apple’s marketing team understands all-too-well.

The evidence makes it clear that most marketing delivers its biggest dividends in the long-term, by slightly increasing the odds a brand will be chosen — through making it come easily to mind, and attaching positive thoughts, feelings, and associations to it. And it’s here where Apple’s latest ‘Privacy’ instalment excelled.

By putting the consumer at the heart of all decisions — especially when it seemingly forgoes a lucrative financial opportunity — the emotional connection of both users and non-users is strengthened. Inspiring a generation to believe Apple’s got their back and has their best interests at heart offers an enduring point of difference in a category where competitors are endlessly focused on features and functionality.

Combined with Google’s recent announcement that they’ll be delaying blocking third-party cookies in Chrome (again), what Apple clearly demonstrates is that meaningful difference is the most sustainable path to commercial success — and is entirely possible even when you’re one of the world’s biggest companies.

Apple Data Auction - Ad Testing - Cubery Rating

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