Post-IDFA: Strategies to adopt for future iOS campaign success

Apple’s privacy control and the deprecation of its Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) will take place in the Spring, allowing users to opt-in to sharing data with advertisers at their discretion, making targeting and the monitoring of campaigns a huge challenge.

Here Si Crowhurst, VP Creative Labs & Brand at Vungle proposes strategies that harness data from probabilistic attribution and contextual targeting, balanced with creativity.


Having spent a large part of the last year confined to our homes, we’ve never been more dependent on our mobile phones to provide entertainment, news updates and connection with loved ones, with 90% of adult smartphone users spending over four hours a day on their phones. Alongside a 20% increase in consumer spending via mobile apps, mobile-advertising spend grew 26% year-on-year to $240 billion, per App Annie’s State of Mobile report.

Against this backdrop, Apple’s announcement of new IDFA privacy changes has thrown the mobile industry into a tailspin, as advertisers foresee a seismic impact on their ability to deliver customised advertising.

When Apple’s delayed changes are enforced, it will make its unique ‘identifier for advertisers’ (IDFA) optional, allowing users to opt-in at their discretion. This is a huge concern for the advertising industry, as it will make targeting and monitoring campaigns even more challenging.

However, out of this adversity has emerged a creative and resilient movement, as well as an allegiance amongst mobile marketing technology peers, with the ‘NO IDFA? No Problem’ partnership. The focus is now on how to adapt and which tools mobile marketers need to utilise to drive performance and succeed in the post-IDFA era.

Strategize with probabilistic attribution

The focus is now on how to adapt and which tools mobile marketers need to utilise to drive performance and succeed in the post-IDFA era.

62% of consumers will not allow app tracking in iOS14, according to Singular. Probabilistic attribution could be a vital way around this issue, as for those who opt-out of tracking, advertisers will have to rely on Apple’s SKAdNetwork, which doesn’t provide information pertaining to the user or their device, limiting campaign performance data. With SKAdNetwork, networks register with Apple the ads that they’re displaying to consumers. If a user engages with an ad, Apple notifies the network of their campaign success, but without device-level data that informs targeting and re-targeting of ads.

Advertisers can use probabilistic attribution to assign campaign membership probabilities to a user based on attribute, behaviours and the below data:
– Anonymous user-level data
– SKAdNetwork data
– Ad network campaign data
– Deterministic MMP attribution data

This provides valuable insights so that mobile marketers can better understand the user and adapt campaigns accordingly.

Contextual targeting to maximise performance

Contextual targeting is another great tool in the advertiser’s arsenal. Contextual signals inform them about what type of ad creative they should deliver within the context of the mobile app. This kind of targeting is based on either behavioural data or environment-based contextual information.

Anonymised user behaviour cues include the category of the app, the mood of the app, the artistic style of the app and the behaviours the app elicits. Taking into account all of this information, an advertiser can create more compelling, emotionally contextualised experiences based on the user, for improved ad performance.

Environment-based data is linked to information provided by device-based contextual signals. Key information can be collected from the strength of the network connection or even the battery level, to help improve ad placement. These insights can be indicators that the user is unlikely to download a data-heavy app, and consequently, that ads for such an app would likely see low engagement levels.

Optimise creative powers

Enlisting the contextual signals previously mentioned, and combining these with powerful ad creative will boost mobile ad performance moving forward. Aligning contextual insights with the right creative will increase the chance of the ad resonating with the user on both a data-proven level, but also from an emotional perspective.

As the industry knuckles down in preparation for the post-IDFA era, creating a compelling ad experience is a considered balance of creativity and context.

Human attention span is decreasing in the digital age, with research by Think with Google revealing that advertisers have a mere 6-second window to capture the users’ attention. Therefore, making an impactful and calculated first impression is critical. The key to securing user engagement is by developing a rich and creative experience, invoking a deeper, emotive response from the audience in a short time frame. New technologies, such as video and immersive experiences can help generate new creative for ad campaigns. Not only does this entice the consumer, but it can help build brand affinity and improve performance metrics.

As the industry knuckles down in preparation for the post-IDFA era, creating a compelling ad experience is a considered balance of creativity and context. Utilising the information provided by probabilistic attribution and contextual targeting will empower advertisers to create more successful campaigns. The post-IDFA world will be inhabiting a new consumer landscape that still presents great opportunity for success, with growing users and increasing engagement. Regardless of access to device identifiers, user engagement will ultimately be determined by mobile marketers’ ability to create powerful and memorable in-app experiences that resonate with the audience.


Si Crowhurst, VP, Vungle Creative Labs