Harvard Business Review Calls Facebook’s Anti-Apple Campaign ‘Misleading’

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The Harvard Business Review has called Facebook’s campaign against fellow tech giant Apple “misleading” in a recent article. Facebook has ratcheted up its war of words with Apple over new iPhone privacy settings that will impact Facebook’s advertising model. Mark Zuckerberg and his company claim to be the champions of small business against Apple.

In a recent article titled “Facebook’s Misleading Campaign Against Apple’s Privacy Policy,” the Harvard Business Review discusses Facebook’s recent campaign against Apple over the introduction of a new iOS 14 privacy feature.

Breitbart News recently reported that Facebook is attempting to preempt the new privacy update from Apple by requesting permission from users to track their activity. Facebook and Apple have been engaged in a six-month-long privacy battle after Apple announced a new iOS update that would inform users of the apps that track their activity and give them the option to prevent the apps from doing so.

On Monday, Facebook announced that it would be sending a pop-up notification to iOS users asking them for their permission to track their activity so that they can be targeted with ads. The pop-up tells users that allowing trackers will mean that they “get ads that are more personalized” and “support businesses that rely on ads to reach customers.”

Facebook has previously stated: “Without personalized ads, Facebook data shows that the average small business advertiser stands to see a cut of over 60% in their sales for every dollar they spend.” However, the Harvard Business Review takes issue with this estimate writing:

The problem with the 60% figure is that Facebook doesn’t report anything about the two kinds of campaigns it was comparing. For all we know, they might involve different industries, different companies, different products, different times, different places — and if they did, then Facebook’s comparison wouldn’t mean much. In fact, it might just show that companies who knew their customers well achieved a higher return on advertising spend than companies that didn’t.

It further adds:

According to Facebook, Apple’s decision is especially damaging during this pandemic, because, as Facebook’s ads and website state, “Forty-four percent of small to medium businesses started or increased their usage of personalized ads on social media during the pandemic, according to a new Deloitte study.”

That number seemed off to us, so we took a close look at the Deloitte study — and discovered that Facebook reported the number incorrectly.

In its study, Deloitte asked companies from nine industries whether they increased their use of targeted advertising on social media during the pandemic. The industry with the largest increase was Telecom & Technology, but the increase was only 34%. Other industries had much smaller increases. Professional-services firms, for example, had an increase of only 17%. Facebook, it seems, cherry-picked the data that best supported its case — and then increased the size of the cherries it picked by a third.