The article below was originally published in Forbes here.
Back in August 2020, I wrote about Apple’s announcement with changes to the IDFA and what it meant for those across the mobile advertising industry. Within consumer privacy circles, the move was applauded. Within the mobile advertising industry, the move was greeted with skepticism due to its implications on data, tracking and attribution. No one knew exactly what it would mean for demand-side platforms (DSP), mobile measurement platforms (MMP) or self-attributing networks (SAN) like Google and Facebook.
Some in the industry believed the changes would mean a death sentence for DSPs and MMPs (“armageddon!” or a course to extinction), but I wrote it would be anything but that. I (and others) felt that mobile advertising and the various parts of the ecosystem would simply evolve and change — and maybe not even as radically as many predicted.
Prior to iOS 14, limit ad tracking (LAT) was already enabled by roughly one-third of iOS users. Of course, the assumption behind everyone’s dire predictions was that the percentage of users using LAT would eventually be astronomically higher than one-third with iOS 14.5. Most experts have guessed between 50% and 80%. With next to no data being identified or passed, how could any advertising work with any promise for the future?
Enter SKAdNetwork, developed as an ecosystem that provides a privacy-safe environment for mobile attribution. No one is naïve enough to think there aren’t challenges for the industry, but there are strong opportunities, too. For all of us, it’s important to stay informed of what to know as we try to leverage the incredible power of mobile advertising.
• Users and consumers: This is a tremendous chance for everyone in the tech industry — from advertiser to supplier to technology partner — to educate. We can be proponents of user protection while showcasing the incredible suite of functionality available to users — and exactly why it’s important for users to opt in. It’s a chance to illustrate why personalized advertising is a good thing and why some features are much too relevant to go without.
• Advertisers: Advertisers, too, should become educated on the entire ecosystem and rely on experienced partners. Mobile marketing worldwide isn’t going anywhere, but the game has changed more in the last year than at any other time. It’s important for advertisers to align with a partner that has knowledge of the industry, a track record of working within both supply and demand sides, and relationships with major publishers or their own network or DSP. Partners that have technology and predictive modeling in their DNA are a big bonus.
• Data Partners/MMP: An experienced intermediary between advertiser and publisher or app is still important. When SKAdNetwork was introduced, it wasn’t the end of data; it meant the industry was likely to pivot away from the IDFA or user consent-based model. Data is available, and advertisers should have partners able to access, analyze and, most importantly for performance marketers, attribute it.
• For all: It is a much more equal playing field because SAN’s (self-attributing networks like Google and Facebook) are without event streams ingested across the entire ecosystem over a period of time. It impacts their ability to aggregate user events in targeting, say, high-value individuals and claim attribution via lengthy view through windows of seven to 30 days, for instance.
If you’re an advertiser looking to maximize your mobile marketing spend, there are a few more things you should keep in mind:
• Make sure DSPs are registered with an SKAdNetwork ID and can seamlessly integrate. Your DSP partner should set you up with testing and verification for SKAdNetwork to make your entry into the network easier. They’ll be able to manage source IDs, tracking, postbacks and deliver attribution back to partners.
• Familiarize yourself with private click management (PCM). It allows for the measurement of ad clicks across websites and from iOS apps to websites.