The DMA's impact on mobile ads

Posted by Christopher Farm on July 27, 2023 · 2 mins read

The Digital Markets Act (DMA) is a new piece of legislation from the European Commission that aims to rein in the power of tech giants like Google, Amazon, and Facebook. One of its key provisions is to require companies with significant market power, to obtain explicit consent from users before they can collect or use their personal data for targeted advertising. In this case, starting early 2024, Google and Facebook will be required to collect ad consent from EU users who utilize multiple apps within the same corporate ecosystem. For example, if you use Instagram and WhatsApp, Meta will need to ask if you consent to sharing data between each of the services. Youtube and Google search (and any mobile app that uses Google mediation) will likely have the same consent requirement.

As if users aren’t already confused on terms of services they’re opting into, there will be another popup screen that requires this consent. The DMA is likely to lead to more confusion around what users are opting into, especially when used in conjunction with the iOS App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework.

ATT is initiated by Apple OS as a default popup that’s required to opt into sending IDFAs to between foreign parties. This is not to be confused with the DMA which will likely require an additional popup consent screen that allows large tech companies to share user data between services within their own walls. Yes, you heard that right, it’s very likely iOS apps with ad revenue will likely have an ATT popup followed by a DMA popup consent.

The combination of the DMA and ATT policies is likely to have a negative impact on the user experience of mobile apps. This doesn’t even mention the additional number of deadends and roadblocks that app developers will need to navigate. Users will be bombarded with consent screens, monetization will drop, and the app ecosystem could suffer. At some point it would be nice for governments to realize that app developers and users are actually getting more hurt with these kinds of policies than it’s helping.