Cross-platform Data Privacy App Tracking Transparency

How consumer privacy is affecting marketers in an uncertain economy



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August 2, 2023 | 5 min read

By Brian Quinn, president & GM of North America at AppsFlyer

By Brian Quinn, president & GM of North America at AppsFlyer

Last year, digital advertising growth slowed considerably following the pandemic’s spend-happy days. As if shrinking budgets weren’t enough for marketers to contend with, new privacy regulations are complicating the process of identifying potential customers and measuring their brand interactions.

Many mobile app marketers may feel at the mercy of users’ — or potential users’ — devices. In 2021, Apple’s App Tracking Transparency privacy framework arrived alongside iOS 14.5 and started presenting users with the option to opt out of tracking across iOS apps. Traditional troves of third-party user data dried up, and as the industry has been learning to work with aggregated data, iOS user behavior became much harder for marketers to discern.

How can mobile app marketers contend with mounting privacy regulations alongside shrinking ad funds? And how can both of those challenges be factored into solutions to drive brand growth?

By leaning into data collaboration and leveraging attribution methodologies that account for stricter privacy rules, mobile app marketers can start to understand the behavior of their audience across any platform or device while respecting users’ privacy rights.

Collaborate to grow the impact of your first-party data

Recent US congressional hearings have put the data privacy debate at center stage for many Americans, with 81% of Americans saying they’re concerned about companies collecting their personal data. While mobile app advertisers may not have nefarious intentions, their approach to using customer data needs to comply with regulations—and align with consumer expectations—for data privacy.

While consumers and privacy evangelists may get their wish with more privacy protections, and control, over user-level data in the near future, advertisers can still access consumer data and make data-driven decisions using data clean rooms. These clean rooms provide aggregated data instead of individual data—an approach that works in the interest of the customer and the advertiser alike.

Aggregated data within data clean rooms or other privacy-first platforms provides the same value without compromising on privacy, giving advertisers an opportunity to learn more about their users while establishing a higher degree of trust with them. From a business perspective, customers who trust a brand to handle their personal data safely and ethically will also be more likely to stick by that brand, potentially increasing customer loyalty and engagement.

Integrate solutions that account for iOS-specific challenges

Apple has made headlines as it rolls out privacy-first updates to its operating system, iOS. Apple continues to take major steps to protect the data and privacy of its users, and marketers must be able to keep up with Apple’s requirements in order to reach their users.

Apple’s StoreKit Ad Network (SKAN) is a privacy-centric API that helps publishers and advertisers measure campaign performance with aggregated first-party data. Late last year, SKAN released changes to lifetime value (LTV) measurement, ad network optimization and reporting, attribution channels, and new privacy thresholds for crowd anonymity.

App marketers don’t need to take a shot in the dark when developing iOS-optimized campaigns, despite frequent privacy changes. To keep pace with iOS privacy policy changes, advertisers should consider factors including data freshness, measurement optimization, and reporting. To drive their iOS campaigns, they can collect, analyze, and act on data from their users—again, without compromising data privacy.

Prioritize cross-platform and cross-device attribution methods

As software giants like Apple, Google, and Amazon introduce their own privacy frameworks, advertisers are now required to adapt to each individually – dealing with increased fragmentation, complexity, and costs – leaving app marketers feeling overwhelmed as they push to protect their users. They might wonder how they can get the insights they need to run campaigns on multiple devices and platforms while remaining compliant with constantly shifting privacy goalposts.

The ability to understand the user journey as they move between platforms and device is critical to attribution for impressions, clicks, installs, and other user events. App marketers use these insights to make important decisions and to evaluate the success of their campaigns, especially as the weak economy causes ad budgets to dry up.

If app marketers can no longer have access to individual consumer-level data due to privacy protections, they must adjust their approach to focus on aggregated data sources. By applying aggregated data in measurement, attribution, analytics, segmentation, and incrementality, mobile app advertisers can overcome impending privacy challenges and stay competitive in a privacy-first marketplace.

Economic instability and data privacy concerns rising in tandem leave app marketers in an unsettling position. Budget cuts mean that ad spend needs to be highly efficient and generate revenue. Yet, new protections and public demands for data privacy remove a layer of security for advertisers. To navigate this catch-22, app marketers will need to innovate their approach to ad measurement and optimization—and aggregated data is the key to success.

Cross-platform Data Privacy App Tracking Transparency


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