A new era has been ushered in by Apple’s iOS 14.5 release in three key areas for advertisers.
The article below was originally published in Medium here.
By now, the whole world it seems knows about the iOS 14.5 update from Apple in late April, 2021. We’ve written about aspects of it here and here.
In short, the iOS 14.5 update provides mobile users the explicit ability (and ease) to opt-out of tracking and targeting. Advertisers are impacted by the expected decline in opt-in rates from users (in some cases estimated to go from 70% to 10%), and the resulting inability to target, attribute and measure their ad campaigns the same they did prior to April.
Ad targeting and ad measurement are two areas that are expected to change most. When users opt-out of passing their Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA), some targeting methods — like retargeting — will simply cease to work. Likewise, Mobile Measurement Partners have had to adjust their methods after relying on the IDFA for fraud prevention and campaign performance to name two. The precision of ad measurement from apps and mobile websites has been reduced overall.
Enter Apple’s own privacy-friendly ecosystem called SKAdNetwork (SKAN) that makes performance data available at the campaign level.
Despite the merits and importance of SKAN, as with any massive set of sea changes in any industry, ripple effects will be felt in three key areas. It is important that advertisers and agencies align with partners who understand the nuances unique to SKAN, but also mobile and digital marketing in general, based on the following:
1. New, Proactive Approaches to Privacy Concerns
Newer concepts like “differential privacy” are being introduced as a way to measure marketing efforts by looking at behavior across multiple apps, websites and digital properties without being able to tell an individual user’s behavior. Think of it as looking more at the collective rather than the user. We believe efforts like differential privacy are here to stay and, in fact, Apple’s SKAN would itself fall under the umbrella of what is known as differential privacy.
2. Measurement: what’s new is old
Anyone remember the good old days of Marketing Mix Models? Facebook does. They’re introducing (or re-introducing) the concept through an open-source computational package that guides advertisers through implementation. Any measurement models that utilize factors — like geography, variations in ad spend and sales by channel and time, aggregate behavioral data or sales data — that many of us in the mobile and digital arenas have long taken for granted or deemed “basic” now merit more consideration. It will be interesting to see how technology can advance some of those privacy-safe elements we’re already most familiar with. Speaking of…
3. IT & Technology infrastructure
The biggest takeaway, perhaps, with Apple’s iOS 14.5 release is that they — and therefore we — take user privacy concerns seriously. There are no shortcuts around this fact, nor should there be. There are no tech “workarounds” that will last very long or work. But technology can be the answer similar to how it always seems to have been in the mobile ad industry. Embrace new measurement models, embrace privacy-safe platforms that are good for the consumer, and understand that any restraints in the marketplace when it comes to data or measurement creates opportunity mostly through technology. It will be at this point in time that technology is not used to find loopholes, or some haphazard workaround to the restrictions set by the platforms themselves; it will be used to provide safe haven for the customer while still giving advertisers valuable insights they have come to expect.
When it comes right down to it, embrace the change. Users who find value in relevant, targeted advertising are still there. It will just take more work for us within the industry to showcase that value safely. Collectively, we can use our considerable knowledge and expertise to help advertisers leverage the splendor of the mobile industry.