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Apple’s IDFA announcement: what does it actually mean for in-app advertising?

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With Apple announcing new privacy measures that will be implemented with iOS 14, developers will be required to ask users for permission to gather data and track them across mobile apps and websites.

But what will these changes mean for advertisers? And how can we best prepare for what’s to come? We’ve spoken to IAB UK’s Mobile In-App Steering Group to get their views.

What does Apple’s recent IDFA announcement mean for marketers wishing to advertise in-app?

While currently delayed until early next year, these changes introduce new challenges and opportunities for the entire industry. This means what change usually means: that marketers will have to adapt and innovate. We must remain committed to providing our customers and partners with the flexibility they need to achieve their goals and increase users’ privacy.

Paul Wright, managing director UK, France, Middle East & Turkey, AppsFlyer

The changes are likely to have a significant impact on campaign targeting capabilities, and on frequency capping, limiting marketers’ ability to target specific audiences using device IDs. However, while Apple’s changes are likely to have a significant impact on the mobile marketing industry, the number of people using apps and playing games will not change. The difference will lie in the distribution - or redistribution - of that pie. Savvy marketers who prepare correctly will be able to take advantage of that opportunity, and the sooner they get started on the learning and development process, the better.

Samantha Lopez, head of marketing, Brand Solutions, IronSource

As of iOS 14, app publishers will need to request user consent to track their users’ data via a pop-up message within the app. For users who opt out of tracking, their IDFA - the identifier advertisers use to track data to deliver customised advertising - will return a string of 0s, rendering it effectively useless. The changes will specifically affect the ad targeting side of the ecosystem. Retargeting, exclusion targeting, segmentation, lookalike audiences and much more all currently rely on using the IDFA, so these changes will have big knock-on effects on ad monetisation and user acquisition.

Andy Chandler, VP client success, Adjust

How can we best prepare for Apple’s privacy changes before iOS 14 releases in September?

It’s critical to be in touch with advertising technology partners to ensure they are preparing for iOS14, and what, if any, changes you need to prepare for (for example shifting from targeting by device ID to IP instead). Even once iOS14 launches, the situation is likely to continue evolving in a very dynamic way, so marketers who are able to be agile, will have an edge.

Samantha Lopez, head of marketing, Brand Solutions, IronSource

We suggest focusing specifically on the user consent mechanism and how you can secure high opt-in rates. Importantly, app developers can create their own internal prompt before serving the iOS pop-up, which they can customise, design and word to best fit their app. This is where you can explain why apps need access to the IDFA, and the benefits it will bring users - namely in the form of better, more personalised ads. We recommend working closely with your UX team to research successful approaches to push notifications and consent forms, and experiment with the copy and timing of this internal prompt. Careful A/B testing will be key here, so you can go on to iterate on the most successful combinations of copy and UX design.

Andy Chandler, VP client success, Adjust

We are determined to help advertisers prepare for the upcoming changes. We recently rolled out an SKAdNetwork readiness suite, empowering app developers to take full control over their data and seamlessly manage and map SKAdNetwork conversion values. This suite includes a simulation dashboard, which transforms customers’ real, current attribution data to how it will look when processed through SKAdNetwork, once it’s launched. They can understand the value they’ll gain and, more importantly, be fully prepared ahead of the upcoming changes.

Paul Wright, managing director UK, France, Middle East & Turkey, AppsFlyer

Looking to the future, how can the in-app advertising industry adapt to these changes? And are there any positives we can take from this?

Definitely! While the new update signals a big shift in advertising on iOS devices, it takes nothing away from the reach and impact advertisers can have in the app ecosystem. We see this as an opportunity to both create a sustainable future for app developers and maximise user privacy. Adjust is privacy-centric at its core, so the changes introduced with iOS 14 are very much in line with our values. By introducing this consent management, users will gain a much better understanding of how their data will be used. It’s now up to app marketers to communicate the array of benefits their apps deliver to their customers and optimise the opt-in mechanism towards consent.

Andy Chandler, VP client success, Adjust

While this shift may have seemed daunting to some at first, we’re confident it’s the right thing for the industry; even more so now that Apple has delayed its IDFA changes, giving advertisers more time to prepare. Apple’s upcoming iOS 14 privacy guidelines can drive adoption of the mindset that aggregated data should be preferred when user-level data is not required or permitted with proper user consent. In fact, this is the spirit of both the GDPR and CCPA regulations. Great user privacy and great user experience can co-exist.

Paul Wright, managing director UK, France, Middle East & Turkey, AppsFlyer

Apple’s planned updates to iOS 14 represent an inflection point for the industry, but the in-app environment, and mobile games in particular, remain the most high-engagement, lean-forward media inventory available today, with iOS users driving the most revenue post-install. Not only will the industry adapt, but this change accelerates a move towards more user privacy, which will ultimately make our entire industry more sustainable in the long run.

Samantha Lopez, head of marketing, Brand Solutions, IronSource