Apple’s New Privacy Rules Are Here. Are Mobile Advertisers Ready for Them?

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With Apple’s privacy changes finally live in the form of iOS 14.5 availability, a question must be asked — how ready are advertisers for these changes? Our data indicates that most aren’t ready.

In June 2020, Apple announced a new privacy framework, App Tracking Transparency, which would serve users prompts in all apps on iOS/iPadOS/tvOS devices, which would explicitly ask them to approve that app’s data tracking for marketing purposes — or disallow it. The impact of user-level tracking data reduction on mobile advertising cannot be overstated. With iOS 14.5 now live, it is crucial that advertisers are able to manage and optimize their mobile advertising campaigns in this new world.

But who is actually ready for iOS 14.5? At this point in time, we now see two groups of advertisers: those who are technically ready and those who aren’t. Here’s how they differ and what each needs to do next to successfully navigate advertising on iOS 14.5.

How 60% of Advertisers Have Prepared for iOS 14.5

More than 60% of advertisers in our app ecosystem have implemented SKAdnetwork support, meaning that the advertiser had accurately set up to pass install events to Apple. 

It’s worth noting, though, that we believe the percentage of iOS 14.5-ready advertisers on our platform is much higher than the majority of the industry – estimating that it’s less than 50% adoption across the industry to date.

Of the ready advertisers, 37% of apps in our ecosystem were already running iOS 14.5-dedicated campaigns on supported channels (such as Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok, Unity, Vungle, and Liftoff) ahead of the update’s formal rollout. In the last few months, over 50% of our advertisers who were running iOS 14.5 campaigns looked at SKAdnetwork data in parallel to deterministic data (up until the iOS 14.5 release on April 26). This period was crucial to detect and eliminate discrepancies between the two sets of data.

In over 80% of cases, marketers identified data gaps of 20% or higher in Facebook installs between SKAdNetwork and deterministic data. It’s important to be aware that these gaps exist, as this will help teams determine how to handle the data gaps and understand it going forward.

If You’re Not Ready, Time is Running Out

While iOS 14.5 launched nearly a month ago, we still see a significant amount of ad inventory utilized for iOS 14.4 and lower. The opportunity to compare and contrast deterministic data with SKAdNetwork data is still there, but the window is closing rapidly.

If you haven’t done so already, you should ensure iOS 14.5 readiness by taking the following steps:

Stage 1: Implement SKadNetwork.

Stage 2: Define your conversion schema.

Stage 3: Connect, visualize, and analyze the data you’re receiving to glean actionable insights. Preferably, try and visualize SKAdNetwork data on the same pane of glass as deterministic to detect discrepancies and similarities. This is where marketing intelligence platforms can be very helpful.

Stage 4: Once you’re ready, you should start focusing on your creative performance. With user identifiers on their way out, and automation for almost anything related to audiences and bidding becoming the norm, creative assets are bound to become the conduit for campaign optimization strategies.

When Technically Ready, Next Focus on Creative

Optimizing through creative assets is no easy task. For more than a decade, the online marketing industry was focused mainly on finding the best audiences and placing the right bids. Creative was left underutilized, and now, suddenly, it’s the one thing marketers can influence in an ever-more automated world. 

To optimize creative, you first need to shift the way you look at performance. Instead of tying it to users, tie it to assets. How much budget is assigned to a specific concept? How does each asset impact your KPIs? These are only two of the many insights you can extract when you assume a creative-centric view of the activity. 

Doing so will also help you future-proof your activity against the disappearance of user identifiers, as creative analysis is based exclusively on aggregate metrics.

On the one hand, there’s very little doubt that the online marketing industry will survive Apple’s ATT, the deprecation of third-party cookies across the web, and other privacy-minded steps that are already on the horizon. On the other hand, the readiness numbers that we see a month after the adoption of a policy nearly a year in the making does leave room for concern. 

SKAdNetwork is by no means an easy platform to integrate with, but it’s a prerequisite for any kind of attribution on iOS going forward. And Apple’s mobile OS is still not one mobile marketers can afford to ignore. Yet even now, many developers are unprepared or underprepared. All have their reasons, but the result is the same — their marketing efficiency will take a dip, and it doesn’t have to be that way. With the right tools and the right workflows, even changes as drastic as the one the industry is undergoing can become opportunities for expansion and optimization.

Alon Tvina is CRO of Bidalgo.