Apple’s Latest Changes: New Approaches to a Post-IDFA World.

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While Apple’s recent announcement of their latest iOS14 privacy policy updates have untied major debates within the tech giants in the industry, millions of app developers are still scratching their heads and wondering what’s next.

Let’s face it: the advertising industry is changing. Moving forward, we face a significant challenge: developing new, alternative methods for delivering targeted advertising to help marketers optimize their campaigns … while preserving end-user privacy. 

We are here to help you. Let’s explore new approaches to a post-IDFA world.

But first, let’s recap the effects of these new privacy policy update:

Context: what’s going on?

During their annual Developers Conference, Apple revealed new features of iOS 14, their upcoming operating system for iPhones and iPads, to be released on a March time-frame which will include large changes to privacy management.

The update will prevent apps from using advertising identifiers known as IDFA without obtaining each user’s explicit consent for targeting. Therefore, they are required to provide accurate information about what data their programs collect and what they do with that information. Currently, about 70% of IOS users share their IDFA with app publishers, after this change it’s estimated that this number will drop to 10% to 15%.

Certainly, the changes to Apple’s IDFA are not unexpected as this new privacy prompt follows closely to Apple’s iOS 13 update which informed users that an app was tracking their location and offered the choice to “always allow”, “limit its use”, or “deny access”. As well as the previous privacy initiatives on its Safari browser, where it restricts third party cookies and limits the use of first-party cookies.

How Will the Apple iOS 14 IDFA Update Impact Advertisers?

Broadly, Apple’s ATT changes will reduce visibility into key metrics that show how ads drive conversions – app installs and sales- and will affect how advertisers’ value and bid on ad impressions.

Advertisers will be impacted in two main areas:

Ad Retargeting – Any retargeting to users (based on device-level targeting) will no longer work for users that have opted out of sharing their IDFA. 

Ad Measurement – Mobile Measurement Partners (MMPs) built its measurement and fraud capabilities around the IDFA identifier.

Up until today, some developers thought that they would be able to use new and more invasive forms of tracking such as “device fingerprinting” to provide mobile attribution services without an IDFA and without asking users for tracking permission via ATT.

Clearly this technique is so been called “dead man walking” since Apple will know if a developer is contravening ATT guidelines by sending conversions to an ad platform via server-to-server methods, and they will remove those developers’ apps from the App Store as a consequence.  

Few other tech giant developers – whose App Store acts as gatekeeper to a $500bn economy – are willing to pick a public fight with Apple. But privately, some others are fretting and not risking their access to the world’s most lucrative mobile storefront. 

Let us move forward and explore some alternative methods for delivering targeted advertising to help marketers optimize their ads campaigns … while preserving end-user privacy

View-through attribution and creative optimization in SKAdnetwork

Since Apple announced their new updates to App Tracking on iOS, manifested in the AppTrackingTransparency framework and their new privacy guidelines, unsurprisingly, many developers are looking into new alternatives. One such alternative is SKAdNetwork, which has gone into the spotlight as some developer’s best bet. 

SKAdNetwork will support view-trough attributions for advertisements formats, such as audio, video and interactive advertisements. This will allow developers to display their choice of advertising and measure which creatives are most effective, while preserving user privacy. 

Under ATT, apps must get each user’s permission before using the IDFA to track them across apps or sites owned by other companies. SKAdNetwork will allow registered ad networks to attribute app installs to campaigns without needing to rely on the IDFA.

In broad terms, SKAdNetwork is a library provided as part of iOS to help marketers attribute marketing in a privacy-safe way. How does it works? When an ad is clicked and the store is opened, the publishing app and the network provide it with some basic information such as network, publisher, and campaign ID. The App Store will then send a notification of successful conversion to the network. It will report the attached values alongside a conversion value that can be reported by the advertised app.

Although initial conversations indicate that most players are leaning towards updating their SDK to support the SKAdNetwork option, many are complaining about SKADNetwork because it doesn’t accommodate user-level attribution or user-level event tracking.  

First-Party Data Entry

First-party data is information made up of customers, site visitors, and social media followers taken across a website, app, and/or product, your CRM, social media profiles, subscription-based emails or products, surveys, customer feedback and more – basically data collected directly from the audience. 

This information can be used for retargeting purposes, empowering marketers to make decisions based on known customer preferences and behavior, rather than on wild assumptions.

The main problem with first party data is that it’s all siloed. Without a complete view of their customers, brands often spend too much money and effort in building and maintaining point-to-point integrations between systems. Having all first-party customer data in one place, allows to get a holistic view of how customers are interacting with the brand. 

The best bet for all advertisers is to start the process of creating a usable identity graph of customers and prospects with an email address and/or phone numbers as a primary key to ensure a 1 to 1 level across ad products.

CDPs 

If having all first-party customer data in one place,  CDPs allows to streamline that entire process by integrating all customer data in a single place for smarter targeting and personalization.

A CDP enables brands to integrate touchpoints across all channels into a single centralized customer view in order to gain better insights about customers and enhance a more personalized experience based on those insights. Along with the ability to gain insights about customers and take action, CDPs allows gathering data from multiple sources to provide a 360-degree view of customers. 

Integrating data into a single database provides customer insights, makes marketing teams more effective, and allows brands to tailor marketing and support to each individual customer. 

CDPs have major benefits, as it aligns with the value of having first-party data and/or second-party data. Cross-platform data on all of users and probabilistic matching is going to be instrumental in connecting those dots as we move forward.

Although developers face a major challenge such as losing insights on an ad level as a result of the privacy updates, one of the things that we’re realizing is that product linking and deep linking will be the key to success. As we move forward, there will be opportunities to incrementally test different creatives and strategies against each other.  

Brands must not wait to prepare for the inevitable loss of ad targeting and measurement, which is going to have an impact that goes way beyond mobile campaigns. Marketers must develop new methods for delivering targeted advertising and measuring performance while complying with privacy requirements. 

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