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Expand chart
Data: Branch; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

The latest earnings reports from Facebook and Snapchat show that Apple's mobile privacy measures are beginning to have a material impact on the ad businesses of some of its Big Tech competitors.

Why it matters: While experts don't think Apple's moves will do long-term damage to its rivals, they will force social media companies to invest heavily in new technology and products for the next few years — all while their ads business continues to experience significant headwinds.

Driving the news: Facebook on Monday blamed changes to Apple's "Identifier for Advertisers" (IDFA) user tracking feature for missing Wall Street expectations on revenue.

  • Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg said that the company would've experienced quarter-over-quarter revenue growth, if not for Apple's changes.
  • Snapchat's stock fell nearly 25% in after-hours trading last week after it conceded that its ad business "was disrupted" by Apple's update.

Be smart: Unlike Snapchat, Facebook warned investors last month about its expectation that changes to Apple’s privacy rules would weigh on its business. That warning helped the company dodge a big stock slide Monday.

Catch up quick: Apple began rolling out new privacy features for iOS devices this summer that limited advertisers' ability to use its IDFA user tracking feature to target users by interest and measure whether they clicked on an ad.

  • Companies like Facebook and Snapchat that sell ads based on user interest data were uniquely exposed to those changes in ways that search ad rivals, like Google and Amazon, were not.
  • For Facebook, "The damage is going to be pretty profound," said Eric Seufert, an independent analyst and owner of Mobile Dev Memo.

Yes, but: Analysts don't expect the IDFA changes to have a long-term impact on Big Tech giants, although they do concede it will require firms to invest upfront in costly new solutions.

"IDFA was at the center of the infrastructure for the way these companies did ad attribution and retargeting," Seufert said. "They can re-architect — it will just take time."

  • Sandberg said she thinks that replacing the measurement capabilities afforded by Apple's IDFA feature will be done "this and next year," but "targeting is a longer term challenge."

What to watch: A report from The Financial Times last week found that Apple's in-house ads business is "now responsible for 58% of all iPhone app downloads that result from clicking on an advert" compared to 17% a year prior, citing data from mobile analytics company Branch (see chart above).

  • On Monday, The Information reported that the Justice Department has accelerated its antitrust probe of Apple and it's "very likely" to sue the company.

Go deeper

Tech antitrust bills’ make or break moment

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Lawmakers and lobbyists anticipate a major fight over antitrust bills meant to tame Big Tech, before the midterms put an unofficial end to the legislative effort.

Why it matters: The bills could remake how Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google operate and treat competitors — if they make it over the finish line.

Retail stock traders power stunning comeback after deep selloff

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

Stocks staged a Patrick Mahomes-esque comeback Monday, after plunging for the first few hours of trading.

Why it matters: The remarkable recovery suggests that retail traders who upended markets over the last year — most notably during the GameStop bonanza that occurred almost exactly a year ago — continue to be powerful influence in the markets.

America can't quit polarizing politicians

Expand chart
Data: NewsWhip; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

New data finds that the nation's most polarizing politicians are often the ones that garner the most attention online.

Why it matters: Online engagement helps politicians build a bigger national profile and more fundraising power, incentivizing them be more outrageous, more polarizing and more divisive.

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