If you work in marketing – and even if you don’t – you have probably heard about the debate surrounding Apple’s iOS 14.5 release. The long-awaited privacy feature is meant to address concerns consumers have about app tracking. As marketers rely heavily on third party data for ad targeting and ad measurement, some advertisers are concerned that this new update may adversely affect their campaigns.
As more and more marketing occur online, advertisers have understandable concerns about how Apple’s iOS 14.5 will affect their livelihood. While there is reason for concern, there is no reason for panic. These types of changes in the tech world are fairly common and businesses have always found ways to adapt.
While there may be an adjustment period, a proactive approach can help you avoid major revenue loss despite a potentially substantial change to target advertising.
IDFA: The Basics
IDFA stands for “identifier for advertisers.” An IDFA is a unique identifier built for mobile devices. It is used to track, target, and measure the efficacy of any given advertising campaign.
IDFAs make connections between information gathered about the user – often through their search history – and the likelihood of clicks and conversions on a specific ad. This helps third party data collection companies draw conclusions about those demographic groups most likely to convey interest in a product or service.
In short, IDFAs help you gain the information necessary to best implement target advertising.
How Does Apple iOS 14.5 Affect IDFAs?
Users could always limit app tracking, but had to manually turn it on and off through software settings on their phone. Many users were unaware their activity was being monitored and/or had no idea they could opt out. This is what led to many criticisms surrounding Apple’s lack of transparency about user privacy.
With the Apple’s iOS 14.5 update, users no longer have to enter their software settings to opt out of allowing access to their IDFA. Now, when you install a new app, a pop-up directly asks whether you want that app to track your activity across other apps and websites.
For example, say a user tries to install Facebook. During the installation process, they will receive a pop-up saying, “Allow ‘Facebook’ to track your activity across other companies’ apps and websites?” The user can then pick “Ask App not to Track” or “Allow.”
How Will This Change Impact Advertisers?
As with any major change in tech, no one is entirely sure how advertisers will be affected. However, the impact will likely be significant.
Right now, about 70% of iOS users share their IDFA. By some estimates, that number could drop to 10-15% once iOS 14.5 is released.
Obviously, that is a drastic reduction – and it will likely impact advertisers in several key areas.
Mobile Measurement Partners (MMPs)
Mobile measurement partners are third-party attribution companies. Their job is to collect data for marketing campaigns to illustrate trends in consumer behavior that can help increase ROI.
MMPs get a significant amount of data from mobile apps by gathering information like installs, clicks, and views. A significant drop in IDFA sharing could severely impact the capabilities of MMPs to provide useful information to companies.
Some MMPs are already looking into workarounds. Apple’s SKadNetwork allows MMPs and advertisers to view information regarding installs and campaigns without connecting that information to a specific user. However, SKadNetwork cannot glean as specific information as traditional app tracking. It may be more difficult to breakdown demographic information by ID and limits campaign IDs to 100 per ad network.
Ad Targeting And Measurement
Apple’s iOS 14.5 affects many ad targeting subsets, especially retargeting and device-level targeting. While Google and Facebook can still identify devices based on email addresses and phone numbers, many other platforms will suffer. It may be more difficult to identify target-able audiences for ad campaigns, which can potentially reduce your overall ROI.
While the SKAdNetwork can provide some insights regarding ad measurement, there is concern the information will not be as thorough. Google has stated they are currently working with Apple to improve the SKAdNetwork with the needs of advertisers in mind, specifically regarding ad measurement. They also encourage advertisers to update to the latest version of Google Analytics for Firebase, which includes SKAdNetwork support.
How Do I Prepare For Apple iOS 14.5 ?
There is without doubt reason for concern about the encroaching changes to app tracking. However, it is important to remember businesses have endured these kinds of adjustments before. While it is hard to know what will and will not be effective immediately, being proactive is your best approach to offset a potential dip in leads and conversions.
Review Your Current IDFA Use
A full internal review of current IDFA use can help you get a sense of how big the iOS 14.5 update will be for you.
Consider factors such as:
- Which software development kits are calling on the IDFA
- Your specific IDFA provider’s solutions for adjusting to iOS 14.5
- Whether you will use SKAdNetwork as an additional source of attribution
Consolidate Your Campaigns
Apple’s SKAdNetwork limits campaign IDs to 100 per ad network. This means you may have to make some tough choices regarding how you are expending your resources.
Review all your current app install campaigns to determine which are the most beneficial. Strive to limit your campaigns to a number substantially less than 100 campaigns per app. This prevents your campaigns from having insufficient conversion signals to stay compatible with SKAdNetwork.
Follow Your Mobile Measurement Platform’s Guidelines
Many MMPs have already provided detailed guidelines about adjusting to iOS 14.5. Check your MMP’s website for guidelines specific to your company’s needs.
Below, we have provided some quick links to guidelines put out by some of the biggest Mobile Measurement Platforms:
Monitor Key Metrics Closely
As this change is very new, it is still unclear how it will affect individual ad campaigns. The effects could be significant for some campaigns and negligible for others.
Either way, monitor your key metrics extremely closely after the release of Apple’s iOS 14.5 This will help you identify any negative impacts on ad campaigns early, giving you ample time to recalibrate.
Focus On Android Campaigns
The iOS 14.5 update has no impact on Android phones. While this can be a drawback if your target audience tends to err on the side of iPhones, there are millions of Android users worldwide. A significant chunk of people can still be reached through targeted ads that appear through Android devices.
You can still segment your audience based on the behavior of Android users, which can provide key insights on user behavior that can drive ad campaigns.
Tap into Your Website’s Tracking Capabilities
Remember, ad tracking is only one means of gaining data-driven insights. While you may see some unfortunate side effects due to the latest iOS update, your own website is still an invaluable tool.
Your website’s tracking capabilities and built-in analytical tools can get you ample information on user behavior. With more and more iPhone users limiting ad tracking through apps, let your own website’s data fill in some of the gaps.
Increase Your Organic Social Media Efforts
While it can be a little more tricky than targeted ads, organic reach was once the main means of connecting with customers via social media. While organic reach has become less of a focus in recent years, iOS 14.5 may make it a vital part of a marketing strategy once again.
You can try tactics like:
- Identify the social media outlets where your target audience has the biggest presence
- Create and share evergreen content with useful, relevant information about your company’s products or services
- Post content during slower hours, when there is less competition
- Create video content, which tends to have a higher organic reach
- Interact with your followers regularly
- Add follow buttons to your website
Stay Up-To-Date With Industry News
We are still learning about how this update will impact advertisers. Staying up-to-date with advertising news and trends is always important, but it is especially important to stay informed right now.
There is not always a clear path forward, but the industry is full of leaders highly adept at adjusting and thriving in response to change. Having your finger on the pulse of industry news will help you learn new workarounds, solutions, and strategies as we discover them.
Apple’s iOS14: The Bottom Line
Privacy concerns have long been an issue when it comes to target ads. Consumers often feel wary of opting into app tracking. When Apple iOS 14.5 arrives, many users will no longer share their IDFAs with third-party companies.
This marks a major change for advertisers. However, change is not always a negative thing. Part of working in marketing is adjusting to an unpredictable world; change is common, and not just in terms of how we use technology. Everything from current events to unforeseen weather patterns can drastically impact buyer behavior. Marketers have always found ways to adapt.
Be aware change is coming but remain calm. Proactive companies worldwide are already finding workable solutions to mitigate potential setbacks. As the industry evolves, the best thing you can do is pay close attention and make sure you are prepared to update your strategy.