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Media Adtech Data & Privacy

Apple hasn’t killed mobile advertising: the new landscape of mobile measurement partners

By Micarla Joseph | Senior Director of Growth

M&C Saatchi Group


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November 15, 2022 | 7 min read

Last year, Apple released an update curtailing ad tracking on iOS, giving users more data agency. For The Drum’s Data & Privacy Deep Dive, Micarla Joseph of M&C Saatchi Performance looks at the new mobile ad landscape.

A locked iPhone

After Apple’s iOS privacy changes, can digital marketers still attribute ad performance? / Raagesh C via Unsplash

Today, all digital advertising is about performance. Who saw your ad? For how long? Did they click? And, critically, did they take action?

For a long time, mobile has been a cornerstone of this strategy, leading the way in tracking how an ad has directly led to a conversion. When Apple removed its advertising identifier on iPhones last year, this system broke down.

Following the introduction of iOS14.5 in September 2021, mobile marketers had to reinvent their strategies, but this is not necessarily a bad thing. Consumer understanding of data changed forever following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and defining new boundaries between users and advertisers was inevitable. This is perhaps even more true with mobile phones, which, at times, can feel like an extension of ourselves. With every personal detail captured, over-targeting feels intrusive and damages brand/consumer relationships.

Apple is not alone in its steps to protect privacy; Google is close behind with its own data protection solution Sandbox. With other tech giants expected to follow, this isn’t a flash in the pan for marketers; it’s a complete readjustment of how we engage with consumers. While this may seem daunting, particularly in the already complex digital space, there remain ways to provide attribution on mobile and continue delivering performance.

Mobile measurement partners

A key part of any effective mobile strategy is working with a mobile measurement partner (MMP). MMPs build tools to help you measure performance by creating a link between actions taken on mobile and relaying that to the advertiser. For example, if you are advertising with a mobile network and your ad is appearing within another app, the MMP will create a bridge for the data on this ad’s engagement to be shared back to the advertiser. The process used to be simple – an identifier of a user on one end matched to one on the other side – but now that identifier is gone.

MMPs have spent the last few years creating new solutions that no longer rely on identifiable information. Using anonymized data points, they can either fill in the gap left by identifiers or confirm results produced by black boxes.

While a less direct route, this gives marketers a better perspective on campaigns. Looking at more aggregated data, marketers can create a holistic view, elevating campaigns from individual conversions to overall media performance.

With many to pick from, deciding which MMP to partner with should be a careful process, focusing on four factors:

1. Privacy

Different brands have different data protection expectations, whether that’s because of the type of product/service, or the type of relationship you have agreed with your customers.

You need to ensure that your data is being managed in a way that is reflective of your needs, but also in a way that can bring the best results.

2. Data accuracy

Data precision isn’t ever going to be perfect, but as long as you both understand the limitations, you can find a structure and create KPIs that still indicate success. This will help you effectively measure campaigns and tie findings back to your wider business goals.

3. Fraud management

Protecting your media investments is a priority; any investment lost to fraud is unnecessary wastage. MMPs may be well versed in protection from ad fraud, but you need to assess whether their rules match up to the space you operate within. Find the right rules and level of transparency that works for you.

4. Media aggregation

You don’t want to see your activity in silos. It helps to know how MMPs are going to aggregate this data and provide you with the most efficient data view possible. Consider future plans and whether these will work within this model, including new channels you might be running on.

With these considerations, you need to keep your overall business objectives in mind. This might mean leaning on different MMPs for different campaigns.

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The future of your partnership

There are many more challenges when starting with an MMP. Not least, whether your app/platform is set up for this type of tracking (or are you going to have a nightmare onboarding?). It’s also worth asking whether the MMP will continue supporting you through new digitally-enabled channels, and whether they will be ready for new industry regulations.

While these are questions worth asking, they’re elements within your control. This partnership goes two ways, so make sure to do your part. You need to push, challenge and find a bespoke solution that delivers success.

For more on how the world of data-driven advertising and marketing is evolving, check out our latest Deep Dive.

Media Adtech Data & Privacy

Content by The Drum Network member:

M&C Saatchi Group

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