Apple’s iOS 14.5 update brings with it the new App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework, which has been introduced with the aim of giving consumers increased control over who can view their data and what it can be used for.

Advertisers marketing efforts will obviously be impacted by the changes, so Apple created SKAdNetwork – its proposed answer to advertisers woes, which allows “registered advertising networks to attribute app installations to a particular campaign by receiving a signed signal from Apple.”

Back in March, we outlined what the update and tracking changes will look like, and also asked questions about how many mobile advertisers will adopt Apple’s SKADNetwork. Now the changes have been implemented, it will be interesting to observe the reaction from the different areas of the industry…

What does the entertainment advertising industry think of the updates?

“There’s no doubt IDFA will be a sharp shock for the parts of the mobile ecosystem that rely on attribution or performance related campaigns, as these will become very difficult to measure. Without tracking of performance campaigns, advertisers will be willing to pay less for ads and publisher revenues will drop.

“…IDFA doesn’t take use of personal data off the table entirely. By weaving consent workflows into the touchpoints they have with users rather than relying on consent signals, mobile games can draw on incredibly valuable first-party data that gives advertisers cast iron confidence. Ultimately, despite its challenges, IDFA can incentivise mobile games advertising to provide a better experience for players. For those that can do so, the reward will be more value for advertisers and more revenue for publishers.” Samuel Huber, CEO and Co-Founder of Admix

“Apple sealing up its plans for App Tracking Transparency in 14.5 and the low opt-in numbers seen so far are continued indicators of how the influence of audience data has eroded over the last few years.

“As that continues to happen, data signals like context, emotion, and sentiment will play increasingly important roles, complementing and augmenting traditional audience targeting without incurring identity and privacy sensitivities. If you’re a buyer moving dollars from more traditional channels to others, such as premium video and CTV, – and you’re looking for safety and performance – video context is an untapped data asset ready to be deployed.” – C.J. Leonard, VP of Platform Operations at IRIS.TV

“IDFA’s arrival will make targeted marketing significantly more difficult for many publishers. This will likely mean higher acquisition costs and a drop in initial player retention as finding the users that really want to play your game becomes more challenging.

“To counteract this, publishers will need to explore proven alternative revenue streams for new and existing projects, through diversification into wider markets and distribution onto platforms where their users can be better understood. As a whole, games do provide large amounts of contextual, non-personal user data which can still be used to allow fair and targeted marketing. I also believe more direct deals between ad networks and developers and publishers are coming, meaning advertisers can advertise directly within games with the user base they know they want to reach.”

“It’s really tricky to gauge the reaction at this moment in time, as personally, I feel most people within the industry are unsure of the exact implications of the changes as of now.” – Michael Hudson, CEO and Co-Founder of GameBake

What do marketing agencies think of the updates?

“While the jury is out on what the final “damage” will be from the iOS 14.5 upgrade, initial consumer opt in rates are ranging from 13-46%* and this points to a meaningful impact on several key areas for performance marketers. 

“The implication for in-app advertising is a significant reduction in scale and cost-efficiency of campaigns leveraging tactics such as retargeting, app and app-category targeting that are reliant on mobile ad IDs. Those advertisers over-leveraging these tactics will find themselves paying considerably more for less.

“Also, expect to see meaningful changes in the cost, performance and measurability of paid ad products from the leading social networks like Facebook, as large swathes of their more affluent customer base go “dark” to brands looking to reach them here. Facebook knows this is a big deal, evidenced by the recent “help keep Facebook free of charge” notifications, encouraging users to opt-in to tracking.

“Lastly, measurement, the bedrock of any performance marketer’s toolkit, will be impacted as ad performance, conversion attribution and location measurement all become more reliant on panel and proxy data rather than being directly attributable. As an industry we will need to get more comfortable with approximations on ad performance measurement.”

 *Blis Bid Request Anlaysis of UK, AUS, UKRay Jenkin, CEO, North America at Hybrid Theory

“The Apple iOS 14.5 update might give users more control over their data, but the more cynical among us might wonder if it actually benefits Apple, more than the users – either because the update improves customer loyalty, or because it boosts the tech giant’s position against Facebook.

“Either way, with the update limiting access to granular data on Facebook, it’s becoming vital for performance marketers to increase spend across a variety of social channels – like TikTok – to find more value in advertising. Now is also the time for marketers to build out their own first-party data lists, to communicate directly and more effectively with customers through channels such as email. In this way, there’s hope that the reduced support for viewing performance breakdowns – such as segmenting by age or gender – won’t have a negative impact on the effectiveness of paid media campaigns.” – Asher Gordon, Head of Paid Media at Tug

“The industry as a whole has become over-reliant on the IDFA for targeting so, in the short term, there will be disruption as the industry adjusts. However, in the longer term, Apple’s recent update will likely spur innovation within the industry – particularly when it comes to measurement – and will deter advertisers from using walled garden data, which can be problematic.  

“Moving forward, if advertisers are to avoid the slump in campaign performance that potentially comes with a decrease in targeting capabilities, they must ensure they build their insight and predictive capabilities, as well as a privacy-focused set of technologies that protect the consumer. For example, those businesses that can take multiple data signals and use powerful AI techniques to learn and optimise media will be better-placed to develop more effective advertising content. 

“Apple’s recent update hasn’t affected the number one aim of marketers: to get the right message in front of the right person at the right time. The priority now is for them to find the right alternatives for identifying users, and AI-driven predictive modelling is one such solution, offering an adaptable, privacy-compliant solution to those who want to thrive in a post-IDFA world.” – Sarah Rew, Senior Director, Global Marketing at LoopMe

“The impact of iOS 14.5 on Facebook specifically can be mitigated by taking a more holistic approach to reporting. Those who worship the in-platform figures will see a drop and modelling will be applied so they’ll never be 100% accurate. For those that appreciate a deduplicated view through Adobe or GA will realise these conversions aren’t disappearing, they’re just being reallocated elsewhere.

“The update has meant social analysts need to be more creative too, the measures Facebook has rolled out in response to iOS14.5 has impacted more than just Apple users – given the share of the mobile market they have had to flip their measurement (only allowed 8 events), audience control and optimisation model on it’s head purely to suit them. It’s very annoying but I love a challenge.” – Ed Blakeway, Head of Social at Journey Further

What do software companies think?

“While this is being self-heralded as a leap forward in user privacy and transparency, it is also about Apple controlling first party data and garnering more revenue by monetising it and shutting out major competitors like Facebook. Facebook claims it will block small businesses but the truth is they are probably just annoyed about it encroaching on their front lawn.

“Much like Google’s cookie deprecation announcement, this will create an issue for retargeting from a performance marketing perspective – where you can sequentially target users based on their browsing activity – and also for measurement.

“Likewise, companies relying on attribution could be affected. While the Apple ‘SKAdNetwork’ attribution solution could solve this, it will only do so for companies using Apple’s ecosystem of products. For those who are not, solutions such as Marketing Mix Modelling (MMM) and econometrics studies will be the best option moving forward, providing a high-level overview of the most effective and efficient channels.” – Andy Fairclough, Senior Consultant at Adverity

“The recent Apple privacy update reflects the general trend of big tech companies ramping up their focus on data privacy with the aim to protect the user experience, but also to reinforce their brand association with security. Besides the implications on the ecosystem, including antitrust concerns, consumers will be affected. With many users unlikely to opt-in to tracking, the number of advertising-supported offerings will fall, and we will have to get used to paying more for content.

“The scenario is similar to in-web tracking: if the device ID is not available, advertisers will need to look for solutions based on stronger identifiers. This will result in consumers being asked to give up more personal information to access content – such as emails and mobile numbers – which actually seems less-privacy friendly than device-ID based tracking. Cross-app services, such as content and offering recommendations, will be impacted as well, having a negative knock-on effect on user experience.

“To maintain a successful digital ecosystem, greater efforts must be made to give content producers a chance to inform consumers about the benefits of receiving advertising messages and why consent is important. In the current framework, options are limited. Ultimately, advertisers may start to focus their investments on non-iOS ecosystems, shifting to those that can provide scale and relevancy based on non-identifiable data such as contextual and real-time predictions on user behaviour.” – Jürgen Galler, CEO and Co-founder of 1plusX

“Apple’s latest iOS update carries many privacy features found on its Safari browser over to mobiles, blocking third party cookies from apps by default. On the face of it, these changes will make it more difficult for performance marketers to create unique user profiles based on demographic data.

“So, while the emphasis on privacy is welcome, clearly a balance needs to be struck if users are to enjoy the personalised experiences they’ve come to expect. A large part of this can be managed through framing. If the user is told when opening an app that their data will be protected from third parties if they opt out, they’ll largely do so; however, if data sharing is framed as an opportunity for users to receive more relevant promotions, this view may very well change. Opting out of tracking will force users to log back into sites they visit regularly or be served with non-targeted ads. When notifying users on the privacy update, developers must place equal emphasis on the experience as the process.

“Nonetheless, in many ways, the customised privacy settings introduced with iOS 14.5 present a new opportunity for performance marketers. Consider: if the only people who receive targeted ads are those who’ve opted in, marketers are likely to measure an improved clickthrough rate when launching campaigns. By filtering out the people who don’t know how to opt out – or are so indifferent they won’t spend time doing it – marketers can take a highly targeted approach within a smaller audience.

“It’s now key to have custom tech solutions that meet the specific requirements of advertisers, affiliates and publishers. Initially, most companies have moved to server-side integrations, which let advertisers store information related to user journeys in a way that respects privacy by not storing data within the app or browser. Ultimately, this enables companies to make the different customisations that suit their needs, tailoring the type of integration and specific features that they require.” – Aaron Contawe, Director of Product Marketing at Rakuten Advertising

“The major concern with this latest update is that Apple is taking control of the relationships publishers have with their audiences. In addition, there is also a double penalty for the user experience, with two consent requests in a row. The initiative could be seen as a move by the tech giant to build its own private garden; one which sits outside industry regulations and prevents user information being used for targeting and attribution measurement.

“To avoid the potential negative consequences of this, publishers must focus on delivering quality content to build trust with their readers. The more loyalty publishers inspire from their audiences, the more likely users are to opt-in and say yes to tracking. In addition, publishers should look beyond dominant industry players to harness independent solutions that don’t cut-off non-consenting traffic. By using third-party ad serving technology, publishers can overturn the traditional view that ad targeting requires personal data, and instead target based on key performance indicators such as viewability and completion rates, as well as contextual understanding. 

“By prioritising audience relationships and extending models to include non-consented inventory, publishers can continue the distribution of tailored ads on smartphones and tablets without compromising compliance regulations, or their ad revenue. On the advertiser side, by trading more closely with publishers they can capitalise on the rich pools of first-party data to which they have access, offering them a basis for broader ad targeting possibilities.” – Ingrid Couasnon, EVP EMEA at Smart AdServer

The changes are still evolving and coming into play; over the next few months we will see notable changes in privacy restrictions, and we will do our best to provide tips and insight into how to best go about dealing with the changes. Make sure to sign up to our newsletter to make sure you’re up to date.