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Here's How Apple's iOS 14 Update on IDFA Impacts Marketers – Programmatic Soup
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Here’s How Apple’s iOS 14 Update on IDFA Impacts Marketers

Good for users, not good for marketers; the update will allow users to have greater control over what ads they are shown.

As part of the iOS 14 update, users will soon be able to block the IDFA identifier at an app level. This means that Apple users will now have to give apps permission to collect and share data.

Apple made this change as they believe that privacy is a user’s right. They are actively looking for ways to help users avoid any form of targeting or tracking. It is also rumoured that they will extend these privacy-friendly features across their entire product line-up.

“Apple’s new data privacy tools ensure that people have greater control over their personal information. Data brokers and online advertisers will now have to act more responsibly when dealing with consumers who use third-party applications on Apple devices,” said Jeff Chester, Center for Digital Democracy at Apple.

IDFA, also known as Identifier for Advertisers, is a random identifier assigned to each Apple device. Advertisers use this to track users preferences so that they could tailor the advertising experience of each user.

Currently, an estimated 70% of Apple iOS users share their IDFA with app publishers. This figure is slated to drop to 10% once the update is rolled out.

How are IDFA’s currently used?

A few of the ways IDFA’s are currently used include:

  • Ad targeting and retargeting
  • Ad frequency management
  • Measuring the performance of an ad campaign
  • Detecting whether a real user or a bot clicked on the ad

What are the implications to programmatic advertising? 

This change will affect all of the use cases for IDFA’s, from ad targeting, ad measurement to fraud prevention. Let’s take a look at some of these.

Ad targeting

Most programmatic platforms are likely to see a fall in targetable audiences, as they do not have deterministic variables platforms like Google and Facebook do, like phone numbers and email addresses. Since retargeting relies entirely on IDFA, it will be limited to users who consent to IDFA’s. 


Ad measurement and fraud prevention

In terms of ad measurement, the IDFA identifier is the foundation of the Mobile Measurement Partners (MMPS). Despite Apple announcing a privacy friendly API (SKAdNetwork), there will likely still be a reduction in data fidelity as MMPs have to identify fraud and performance across mobile campaigns.

Frequency capping

Since advertisers will have no way of knowing how many times a user has clicked on an ad, it could lead to users seeing the same advertisement more than once. It’s also likely that the advertisements users see will not be tailored to them since advertisers have no personal information on their interests.

These changes will manifest themselves in several aspects of programmatic advertising. For example, the new limitations in ad targeting will affect app retargeting campaigns.

Lift Measurement

Lift Measurement will be affected as well. It is one of the ways to observe how a campaign impacts a key metric, like an increase in engagement or an increase in app spend. Before iOS 14, always-on lift measurement in iOS was used in split testing to isolate variables that would help boost conversions.

Unfortunately, lift measurement on iOS requires IDFA information to isolate users into groups so it can perform this testing. This means that programmatic marketers will have a smaller audience of people. Thus, programmatic marketers will be restricted to a smaller audience of people, those who chose to share their IDFA data.

As for user acquisition, marketers will need to adapt to SkAdNetwork. Due to most user acquisition relying on IDFA information, marketers will need to adjust their user acquisition campaigns to fit the new requirements.

However, IDFA is not completely dead. A survey conducted by Singular across 600 mobile users uncovered that 38.5% of consumers would allow app tracking in iOS 14. While this is a significant reduction from before IOS 14, it does show that some people value personalised advertisements and other benefits above their privacy. 

The survey also identified differences in privacy preferences between the two genders, with 67% of women declining to be tracked while only 55% of men claimed the same.

What can advertisers and marketers do?

In general, most marketers’ only legal recourse is to use some other form of identification like email.

Marketers can:

  • Begin to create a usable identify graph of customers and prospects using email addresses. This will ensure your organisation can continue to market itself on a one-to-one level across advertisement products.
  • Focus on building a strategy to maximise first-party data. The more you rely on your own data, the less dependent you will be on other platforms’ policies.
  • Update your SDKs to support Apple’s Search Ads Framework and SkAdNetwork.

Besides iOS, Chrome is also making changes to the industry that will change things that we are all used to. Read how Chrome is changing the advertising industry. With Cookies.

Photo by David Grandmougin on Unsplash

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