Mobile advertising is about to be upended. It’s no secret that Apple’s long-awaited privacy control and the deprecation of its Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) would take place in the Spring. As the industry moves to an entirely different model, where targeting is based on a user ID that has been explicitly opted in to, what remains in the toolkit?
We asked experts from companies within EYE Network as well as the wider ad-tech industry what to expect. Here’s what they said…
Melissa Coleman, Director of Customer Success, Adjust
Being part of a conversation with users about their privacy is essential to an effective iOS 14 strategy. We believe a transparent opt-in experience is the best way to do this since it strengthens trust in your brand. We’ve worked closely with clients over the past year to develop best practices for securing user opt-ins via the ATT framework — particularly experimenting with pre-permission prompt messaging and choosing when to launch the request in their app.
Although opt-in rates have varied across verticals, we’ve seen apps from multiple industries achieve results in the 20-40% range. Finance apps perform particularly well, which we think is likely due to the implicit trust consumers associate with their banking and payment providers.
Equally important, though, is not breaking that trust. For instance, using “dark patterns” in your UI design or coercive language is not tolerated by consumers or Apple themselves.
Ben Phillips, non-executive director TabMo UK
Emerging from the dark of the pandemic, the advertising industry must now face up to the reality of restrictions that will limit how brands reach the right consumer – a ‘digital lockdown’ if you like.
Apple’s IDFA rethink will present many marketers with an additional headache to the one caused by Google’s third-party cookie hammer blow.
But marketers are an ever-inventive and ultimately optimistic bunch. Many recognise that the current brouhaha flags the risk of a silo-ed approach (such as focusing solely on mobile) and promotes the growing stature and capabilities of multi-channel advertising, which mirrors the user journey. Consumers don’t live single-channel lives; rather people are influenced by digital ads, audio ads, TV ads, out-of-home (OOH) ads, etc…
Although Apple’s initial announcement seemed sudden to many, various players, taking GDPR as a warning about changing attitudes to consumer data, were prepped. Thanks to this foresight, the impact will not be so finite. Brands and agencies that choose to work with platforms such as TabMo’s Hawk collect multiple data points that are generated from disparate media channels but available in one place.
Advertisers previously focused on where their ad had been seen; now it’s about getting that ad to consumers for whom it will be relevant.
Brian Wilson, Director Product Management, Kochava
With Apple’s AppTracking Transparency (ATT) framework, users must consent to ad tracking. If users don’t opt-in, Apple will perform attribution through the SKAdNetwork, but there are alternatives to solely relying on it.
Marketers can bolster their owned media resources (SMS, social media, website, email, push notifications) and cross-promotional efforts to obtain attribution since it involves linking their own first-party data. If they have a portfolio of apps within a single publisher account, the identifier for vendors (IDFV) is available which can be used for targeting and measurement of UA campaigns.
Matching hashed emails to web-based cookie IDs is an option for retargeting on mobile web. Marketers can also pursue direct deals with private marketplaces that have delivered quality users in the past. Advertising on over-the-top (OTT) and connected TV (CTV) are fast becoming effective and measurable channels for brands with incrementality testing. Lastly, they can enrich their current IDFAs with a privacy-first data set.
Si Crowhurst, VP, Vungle Creative Labs
Even without IDFA, creativity remains a powerful implement in an advertiser’s toolkit. Going forward, the key to in-app advertising success will be the ability to design creative that establishes a strong and immediate emotional resonance with its audience. Emotion is one of the most powerful drivers of consumer purchasing behaviour, and contextual signals – like the content users are engaging with before seeing the ad – can give an accurate indication of a user’s mood and mindset. This allows marketers to fit ad creative to the emotions driving the app experience and achieve high engagement rates – all without using identifiers.
Isaac Schechtman, Senior Director, Product Strategy, BidSwitch
Digital advertising is currently powered by its identifiable/addressable capability. To move away from it completely seems foolish; instead, marketers need to move up a level from targeting individuals. This can be achieved through cohorts, behavioural, contextual and ID replacement targeting; tactics that used together should help to balance the impact of losing both IDFA tracking and, longer term, cookie depreciation across non-Apple browsers.
IDFA itself can be ‘replaced’ through a combination of solutions including: Identity for Vendors (IDFV) while it lasts, SKAdNetwork, contextual, and third-party replacement identifiers like Parrable.
Fully eschewing ID-based methodologies would blindly cut off valuable user targeting. Going forward, all addressability will either be via single sign-on (SSO) and consent or through cohorts (which are privacy-centric) even on the app model. And while these tactics may diminish user experience somewhat, it is outweighed by the benefits of being able to provide targeted marketing that is both privacy and consent-driven.
Lisa Utzschneider, CEO, Integral Ad Science (IAS)
Apple’s decision on IDFA will further fuel the shift from audience targeting into new tools for scalable contextual targeting. Going forward, we’ll see more industry collaboration like the recently announced Post-IDFA Alliance. IAS is currently helping advertisers that have decided to go beyond audience data and build new contextual strategies that reach the right audience efficiently and effectively in mobile environments. We’re already seeing evidence that contextual targeting and what we call mindset marketing can be even more effective for brands to reach and influence consumers.
Nick Pinks, CEO, Covatic
Advertisers will benefit hugely if they wake up to the fact that their best return on investment comes from focusing on building a superior user experience, which in turn generates brand loyalty and retention.
To this end, contextual targeting is key. Business owners should look for new opportunities to create value in a world without IDFAs. This can in fact mean increasing trust and revolutionising the audience experience.
It will take time to transition the app economy away from the IDFA and towards a fairer and more sustainable measurement solution. But privacy-concerned individuals can only support moves to put some order into the ‘Wild West’ of mobile advertising.
Yes, Apple’s decision to kill off the IDFA, will fundamentally change how measurement is handled in mobile advertising. But creating models for targeting and optimisation that work – while safeguarding user privacy – is a worthwhile and achievable goal which will make our industry more sustainable in the long-term.
Itamar Benedy, CEO, Anzu.io
The end-users evolve, and so should identifiers. As the world is moving toward prioritizing privacy, we are prompted to think about targeting based on estimated location, platform, context and statistical demographics data, without the risk of identifying individual users and tracking their behavior across different devices and apps.
In a post-IDFA world, performance marketing and companies relying on the third-party data are the ones to adjust in a big way. On the same note, brand awareness marketing is more subtle and already relies on contextual targeting, first-party and statistical data, which only propels such media as digital OOH and in-game advertising into the advertisers’ spotlight.
With very limited availability of personalized data, the value of information that users share willingly will only increase, as a way to significantly enhance targeting in a privacy-aware manner.
Tom Jenen, Chief Revenue Officer, Brand Metrics
Mobile advertisers find themselves forced to consider a radically altered list of alternative targeting strategies. But despite all the attention from its deprecation, the IDFA (like any identifier) has often been used in ways which violate privacy. More important from our perspective is that measuring ‘clicks’ has long been perceived as the only way to assess success. Losing IDFA in many cases pushes publishers, broadcasters, networks and app developers to consider how to move away from older measurements and prove effectiveness and value.
If they then begin to measure brand lift they can qualify for greater investment from huge new pools of advertising budgets. Technology like ours allows publishers to measure the impact of their campaigns more holistically and in a way which does not infringe on privacy. If losing IDFA means media brands are pushed to try new measurement approaches, it might end up being the best thing for the industry. It doesn’t have to be a complex process, it just requires a willingness to explore new avenues in order to get the best outcome.
Dominic Satur, VP Business Development Europe, Flashtalking
The first crucial point about the restriction of the IDFA via the AppTracking Transparency framework is that the Apple policy covers tracking by any mechanism. It’s therefore wrong to think of direct IDFA replacements, as the same consent would be needed for all. The question is, will brands look to measure marketing differently or will they still want to directly link individual conversion events to individual ad impressions at the user level?
The other, perhaps more important point is – we might not be looking at the end of the IDFA at all. Several tests by various companies, including Adikteev, have yielded opt-in rates of over 70%, and if these numbers are reflected for real once the IOS 14 AppTracking Transparency framework is live, brands’ mobile marketing strategies would likely remain the same. App owners are getting creative in how they communicate the value exchange of tracking for free content to increase opt-in rates further, so there is a good chance that a year from now things will look very similar and an IDFA alternative simply won’t be needed.
Steve Carrod, Co-Founder and Managing Director, DMPG
Without a doubt, the ability to use IDFA will change dramatically. Apple is pushing this under the angle of consumer privacy but in doing so it will also very conveniently damage one of its biggest competitor’s revenue streams Google. Broadly speaking there will be three main options for advertisers and app owners currently reliant on IDFA.
One, move to a subscription model to utilise declared Customer IDs most likely managed via web-form sign-up to help advertising attribution tracking and to control the experience.
Two, invest in data modelling and attribution technology – understanding referral performance data in-app will become much harder, but brands’ desire to understand ROI remains unchanged.
Three, cut the cord – I think Apple may have pushed advertisers and app owners too far. Perhaps it’s time to evaluate whether you really do need an app via the iTunes store for your business model to work.
Dave Morrissey, Director of Partnerships EMEA,VidMob
The IDFA transition to opt-in has certainly thrown a spanner in the works for mobile advertising as we’ve known it. In an age of increased data privacy, when users are given the option, most are likely to choose not to be tracked – meaning that creative will have to work a lot harder to connect emotionally with audiences and trigger actions.
Fortunately, even with anonymised data, advanced technology can help us to understand which emotions are driving the best performance. With AI-enabled creative measurement capabilities, brands can react quickly to make sure they hit the right tone with relevant targeting, while respecting privacy preferences. This will be key for marketers looking to optimise ad design and drive ROI gains in the new iOS 14.5 landscape.
Filippo Gramigna, CEO, Audiencerate
Google hasn’t yet announced the disappearance of GAID and, with IDFA in Europe being under 50%, there’s still opportunity for advertisers to work with their MAIDs. However, with identifiers becoming more restricted or disappearing, tracking cross-domain and cross-app will change. Creating long-lasting, privacy-proof solutions is difficult, but incentivising consent – explaining the benefit of targeted ads and offers – is one way for advertisers to rely on more consent-based data collection rather than cookies and MAIDs.
Basing information on first-party identifiers increases data quality as they’re more precise and cross-device enabled, they’re sticky and can last for several months or years supporting use cases that third-party cookies failed to address – mobile phone carrier switches and generally long consideration period purchases. There may be fewer profiles in the CRM but they’re likely to be richer in data; brands should harness these extra data points to deliver more targeted messaging and increased ad quality.
Yair Yaskerovitch, VP of Media at Zoomd Technologies
With privacy changes like the upcoming iOS 14 update, advertisers will need to rely on different measurement techniques and avoid device identifiers as the source of tracking. This type of action can be done in many ways but the use of transparency on the media source will be a must to measure the effectiveness of the campaigns.
Advertisers will most likely use top media channels such as the social media giants, influencer marketing, and programmatic media. These channels provide the transparency they will need in order to measure their ROI and campaign performance.