Apple recently announced it was rolling out new privacy features allowing users to be prompted to explicitly permit or deny developers the ability to measure their data across apps or websites.
There will be significant implications for businesses in the region that have, in recent years, turned to mobile marketing and mobile apps as effective ways to engage with their users.
Recent research by AppsFlyer and the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) found that despite the looming deadline, 37% of marketers are oblivious of Apple’s IDFA change.
74% of marketers expect a negative financial impact from the IDFA changes.
In an exclusive interview with Paul Wright, Managing Director UK, FR, ME & Turkey at AppsFlyer, we investigate several aspects of this issue.
1- Why is Apple doing this? is it altruistic or an image publicity stunt?
Apple’s App Tracking Transparency framework is in line with a growing shift that’s putting consumer privacy front and center, in part driven by regulations such as GDPR in Europe and CCPA in the US.
Rather than offering iOS users the opportunity to opt-out of sharing their IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers) with advertisers in their device settings, the new AppTrackingTransparency framework (ATT) requires users to actively opt-in to IDFA collection when using the app. While Apple has developed its own solution for privacy-first deterministic attribution, SKAdNetwork, there’s no doubt that marketers will still face challenges when it comes to measuring and analyzing campaign performance and ROI.
For many businesses, this may seem daunting, but we’re confident it’s the right thing for the industry. The upcoming iOS 14 privacy guidelines can drive adoption of the mindset that mobile marketing can still be highly effective even when user-level data is not available or permitted without proper user consent. Ultimately, we must subscribe to the belief that great user privacy and great user experience can in fact co-exist. It’s just up to us as marketers to evolve and adapt.
2- Which small to medium businesses are most likely to suffer from this? Is there a way to bypass being denied permission by Apple users and continue to gain data on users’ iOS behavior and preferences?
These changes will impact all businesses regardless of size. For example, recent research conducted by AppsFlyer and the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) found that brands expect to lose identifying information on 50% of consumers under the new opt-in rules.
Instead of looking to bypass these changes, marketers should focus on how they can work within this privacy-first space. There are a number of innovative measurement solutions that marketers can take advantage of in a post-IDFA world such as predictive analytics. This allows marketers to leverage early signals of engagement, within the first 24-72 hours, and use this data to predict long-term campaign performance. With Apple introducing a timer mechanism as part of SKAdNetwork, predictive analytics will be a powerful tool in any marketers’ arsenal. In addition, there are also alternative strategies marketers can adopt that don’t rely on IDFA collection for attribution, such as web-to-app.
3- Will Android makers follow suit? Why or why not?
Given that the entire industry is moving in a privacy-first direction, we may see changes impacting Android’s Google Advertising ID down the line.
4- Are consumers better off not having their data shared among advertisers and the products behind them? Don’t they want this?
If consumers want to share their IDFA with businesses they can continue to do so. Apple’s changes just mean that the choice is placed on the user to proactively opt-in, instead of opting-out. However, it’s important that this choice is an informed one, and in order for this to be the case, a broader strategy is needed that educates consumers on the value exchange so that they’re aware of the benefits that come with sharing their IDFA, such as personalized app experiences and content. In addition, by not sharing their IDFA, it’s possible that some apps that used to be free will come at a cost, due to changes in ad monetization.
As part of this education, we also need to improve data literacy. For example, while marketers understand the difference between personalized and anonymized data, most consumers don’t, and this, in turn, impacts what they’re willing to share with brands.
5- How can marketers prepare and adapt to these changes?
Marketers regularly ask us how they can prepare and adapt to the upcoming changes. Apple’s SKAdNetwork solution is a major piece of the puzzle, but it has limitations regarding conversion values and timer challenges, and so shouldn’t be the only piece. Marketers should complement SKAdNetwork with other forms of measurement that rely on aggregated data, such as incremental lift and predictive analytics. In addition, marketing strategies such as web-to-app, which rely on web attribution, are likely to play a bigger role going forward.