By Vibha Singh
The year 2021 is being touted as the year of change, especially for advertisers. Apple rolled out the latest iOS update (14.5) which gave its customers more privacy and allowed them to opt out of ad tracking. This will provide more transparency when it comes to collecting data from iOS apps, as new privacy labels will be implemented on the App Store.
While this new security update is more likely to affect Facebook advertisers as much as possible, it will nonetheless impact all paid advertising platforms to some extent. To adapt to this new development, digital marketers will need to come up with new benchmarks, workflows and best practices. Apple’s privacy changes are part of a larger movement to give online consumers more control over how their personal data is used digitally.
Apple privacy changes: overview
After the release of general availability of the latest iOS (14.5), all apps in the App Store will require users permission to track them on different apps and websites owned by third parties for advertising and measurement purposes. user activity through its transparency framework for monitoring applications. Apple’s swift demand will ban the collection and sharing of data by businesses, unless people choose to do so. This has limited companies using advertising for mobile apps on iOS devices as well as those who drive their business goals through their website.
With the disabling of user tracking, the opportunities for advertisers to deliver targeted ads to them have diminished, which has a drastic impact on the performance of ad campaigns. Majority of platforms including Google, Facebook, Twitter etc. will use SKAdNetwork to connect to platforms using it through S2S integrations while Search Ads in Apple will have its framework. SKAdNetwork is Apple’s privacy-friendly way to attribute clicks and impressions to app installs on Apple Store apps. It shares conversion data with advertisers without revealing any device or user level data. It attaches attribution parameters to the click on the ad. So when the app is installed by a user for the first time, it will send an installation post-back notification to the ad network or MMP including the campaign ID and other relevant information.
As a result, ad networks like Facebook and Google will have less information about users’ app activity through advertisements after installation.
Impact on advertisers
For businesses running their ads on Facebook, Google, and Instagram, these changes are likely to have a huge impact. Here are the main areas where advertisers are concerned:
Many types of targeting (including retargeting) no longer work for users who have chosen not to share their respective IDFAs. Ad inventory on all platforms was affected due to limited tracking viability.
Practices that have evolved in recent years such as running on a large audience will no longer be suitable practices in the future. Advertisers will now have to define precise audiences (preferably mutually exclusive and exhaustive) and manual intervention on optimizations would be necessary.
Mobile Measurement Partners (MMPs) have become ubiquitous in the industry, having built their measurement and fraud detection capabilities on IDFA. Now, they’ve moved to SKAdNetwork, allowing conversion data to be re-transmitted at the campaign level. This, together with the probabilistic models they propose, will still not be enough to compensate for the very precise targeting based on the IDFA.
This holy grail of performance marketing, ad optimization, will cease to exist in its current avatar. In the absence of IDFA, an ad campaign cannot have a limit on the number of exposures, basic optimization recency, segmentation, behavioral targeting, etc. In addition, Apple will only pass installation level data to the campaign level. Say goodbye to deterministic optimization on other goals like buy, display, repeat buy etc. Note that while ad targeting is not significantly affected on Google and Facebook, optimization most likely will. There will be less use of events such as acquisitions. Acquisition as an event should be tracked separately, as it is highly personalized.
The whole game of gradually improving your advertising campaigns depends on attributing successes and failures to the corresponding tactics, media and / or data. Multichannel attribution will suffer unless SKAdNetwork adds more functionality. There is a severe limitation in the installation postback. Now there is only a 24 hour window on the Apple side which means it will be nearly impossible to attribute media conversion after that. Even large platforms with deterministic data sets limit their attribution windows. Now, by default, Facebook limits the attribution window to a 7-day click and a one-day view, instead of a 28-day click and a one-day view. This will reduce the number of events recorded by the campaigns / ad sets / ads, which will impact referrals and their learning.
IDFA and its Android counterpart AAID are device identifiers used only in mobile applications. If a user accesses the web through a mobile browser on their Apple device and does not interact with any in-app environment during the session, the advertising they see will still be governed by the existing cookie-based identification. .
Going forward, with the release of this new update, the first-party conversion data of consenting users will be extremely important than ever. Advertisers should work on building remarketing campaigns and similar audiences from data sources like CRM. While this update has the potential to dramatically reshape the paid media ecosystem, it will take some time for advertisers to fully understand the extent of this redesign.
The author is Vice President, Digital Strategy and Communications, ET Medialabs
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