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Snap’s stock gets hammered as Apple’s privacy crackdown stings advertisers

·Technology Editor
·3-min read

Snap’s (SNAP) stock was down more than 23% in early trading Friday morning after its earnings report sharply missed revenue expectations the day before. Why the big miss? CEO Evan Spiegel said Apple’s (AAPL) recent privacy changes to iOS hampered advertisers’ efforts to track their campaigns.

“Our advertising business was disrupted by changes to iOS ad tracking that were broadly rolled out by Apple in June and July,” Spiegel said during the company’s earnings call.

“We have remained very focused on driving [return on investment] for our advertising partners, and we continue to see strong, consistent performance on our ad platform based on first-party data and conversion lift studies, and are working on building flexible first-party tooling and measurement solutions to serve the diverse needs of our advertising partners,” he added.

The company reported revenue for the quarter of $1.07 billion, versus expectations of $1.1 billion. Adjusted earnings per share were $0.17 versus expectations of $0.08.

LOS ANGELES - MAY 20: In this screengrab, CEO of Snap Inc. Evan Spiegel takes the stage at the virtual Snap Partner Summit 2021 on May 20, 2021 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Snap Partner Summit 2021 - Snap Inc/Getty Images for Snap Inc)
LOS ANGELES - MAY 20: In this screengrab, CEO of Snap Inc. Evan Spiegel takes the stage at the virtual Snap Partner Summit 2021 on May 20, 2021 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Snap Partner Summit 2021 - Snap Inc/Getty Images for Snap Inc)

Apple released its App Tracking Transparency as part of its iOS 14.5 update in April. The feature provides iOS users with the ability to choose whether they want apps, like Facebook or Snapchat, to track their usage across the web via their device’s unique identifier for advertising. Opting out prevents app developers from getting a look at how users interact with ads.

“Advertisers are no longer able to understand the impact of their unique campaigns based on things like the time between viewing an ad and taking an action or the time spent viewing an ad,” Snap chief business officer Jeremi Gorman explained.

That directly affects how advertisers can measure the effectiveness of their ad campaigns, which could push them to seek other advertising options in the future. After all, if the advertisers can’t see the return on their investments, it’s like throwing money into a black hole.

Apple has introduced a more private alternative to typical tracking called the SKAdNetwork, or SKAN. While SKAN provides advertising measurements, it’s been criticized for not offering detailed results and limiting the ability to change campaigns in real time. The company said that its advertisers were also unhappy with Apple’s solution.

“Furthermore, as our advertising partners have explored and tested SKAN's solutions, they have surfaced a variety of concerns about its limitations,” Gorman said.

While Snap also attributed some of its results to the broader supply chain crunch impacting advertisers, it was clear that Apple was top of mind for the company and analysts.

Oppenheimer’s Jason Helfstein dropped Snap’s price target on the news from $88 per share to $77 saying, “While IDFA [unique identifier for advertising] headwinds will be felt across the entire digital ad ecosystem, we believe SNAP's skew towards larger direct response advertiser and shorter duration of advertiser relationships...are likely to increase headwinds vs. others.”

Snap’s report didn’t do any favors for industry peers including Facebook (FB), Twitter (TWTR), and Pinterest (PINS), which were down 4.5%, 3.5%, and 3%, respectively Friday morning. Snap is the first of the big social networks to announce its results this earnings season. 

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