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What changes to Apple’s IDFA means for marketers

Strategy By: MarketingDec 22, 2020
We spoke to leading marketers from ISBA and WFA who were concerned about the changes to Apple's IDFA

Apple announced earlier this year it’s Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA), which allows marketers to target and measure app campaigns on an iPhone or iPad, is shifting from opt-out to opt-in. This impact of this is that the current c.80% of all users that can be tracked via IDFA, is likely to drop to the region of 5%. This change will mean by default app publishers will need to request user consent to track their users’ data via a pop-up message within the app.

This news caused some concern in the mobile marketing industry and left advertisers confused. We have been looking into this issue for some time and were recently asked to host two webinars, one with the UK advertising association ISBA, the other for the global advertising association WFA, to help advertisers better prepare for the upcoming changes by sharing our findings.

The webinar we hosted for the WFA included attendees from global brands in the pharmaceutical, travel, beauty, retail and financial sectors. There were questions around if the change would have impact on app’s that require logins and if you could circumvent the loss of the IDFA with in-app browser fingerprinting. One attendee was keen to know if it is possible to motivate users to opt-in while another was questioning if there is still a place for a DMP and how universal consent management across advertising and external touchpoints would work.

The webinar with ISBA later the same day, involved lengthy discussions with attendees looking for insights around a combined ID solutions, if Apple's definition of tracking is wider than IDFA alone and how they will go beyond IDFA and enforce that practically. Concerns were raised about the free internet coming under significant pressure with others hoping that as Apple comes closer to pushing this live there will be some more clarification on how they plan to enforce this change.

All this shows a level of concern and the lack of certainty amongst advertisers on what will happen when Apple make these changes. 

What will these changes mean for advertisers

In both webinars we highlighted how every major marketing and advertising platform relies on IDFA for app campaigns. Without IDFA, these platforms might serve less effective ads and hinder targeting and user level attribution.

Examples of strategies that become significantly more difficult are:

- Retargeting
- Lookalikes
- User tracking for conversions or analysis
- Frequency capping
- Measurement limitations

How can advertisers prepare

IDFA going away won’t be an easy change, but with the right planning it doesn’t have to be a catastrophe. We have been working with advertisers to help them understand the impact so they can work towards a better solution and adapt to a new environment.

Some good news comes from Apple’s own attribution framework called SKAdNetwork. This is a privacy-safe solution for mobile attribution which uses an API that anonymises the attribution and eliminates user level data. However, advertisers are finding this a challenge to adopt and it will only replicate a limited amount of what was possible with IDFA.

Outside of this, there is potential in using data clean rooms as a solution which gives you the ability to analyse data inside the data infrastructure where the consent was given. These are safe spaces where insights from the walled gardens are combined with first-party data from advertisers for measurement and attribution.

But we see the end of IDFA as part of a bigger picture and for long term success this is far more important.

Ads live on

The death of IDFA does not mean the end of effective advertising on iOS. It was only one effective tool and it means that advertisers will need to shift their thinking and methodology to continue providing relevant ads to users.

For more IDFA and our advice on getting to a solution, download our ‘What’s Apple doing with IDFA and how can advertisers respond? ' whitepaper. 

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