Bracing for Impact: iOS 14, Advertising and App Privacy

TheiOS 14 and the New App Tracking Transparency Framework marketing industry is bracing for what could be the biggest change in the advertising world in over a decade. Apple’s new App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework will soon be enforced and this post covers how Apple, Facebook and Google are moving reluctantly together to move marketers into a more privacy centric world.

Mobile apps track consumers using software development kits or SDKs. These tracking SDKs typically record every movement and keystroke a device makes sometimes even listening to conversations. This is all to understand what type of advertising should be shown to that person. On iOS devices this is done using Apple's Device Identifier for Advertisers or IDFA. Currently, consumers need to opt-out of tracking via IDFA.

The key change in iOS 14 is that apps must now ask for permission to track when the app installed which has big repercussions for marketers and the industry. First, let's consider the highlights of the new ATT framework.

iOS 14 ATT Overview

HereiOS 14, Advertising and the App Tracking Transparency (ATT) Framework for Privacy are some key highlights that are important for marketers to remember:

When consumers learn about what their apps are tracking and how the data is being used, they may be quite alarmed. Opt-in rates are expected to be less that 20% and therein lies the problem and the challenge.

Low opt-in rates for tracking results in drastically less data to work with when trying to reach like minded consumers that will click an ad, install an app or buy a product. The move will make many tracking SDKs obsolete or far less valuable including those commonly used today for app attribution.

To understand how to reach audiences and continue growing app installs, it's important to connect the dots with what Facebook and Google are doing in reaction to Apple's latest privacy move and what recommendations they have for advertisers and pubishers.

Facebook and iOS 14 ATT

Facebook has been very vocal in their disagreement about the new privacy policies but the company is complying with the ATT framework. The Facebook app will continue using the IDFA for tracking. The app's disclosure notice reveals 14 screens of information. All eyes in the industry will be Facebook's opt-in rate.

Whether your ad goals are awareness, app installs or sales, performance of your campaigns will be negatively impacted because it will be more difficult to reach targeted audiences:

To offset the loss in data, Facebook will use statistical modeling predict results at the ad set and ad levels. It remains to be seen what Facebook's opt-in rate for tracking will be and how accurate these models will be in their effort to predict performance.

Google and iOS 14 ATT

Google's apps will no longer use the IDFA for advertising purposes. Users will not see the ATT prompt on these apps, in line with Apple’s requirements. Similar to Facebook, however, the reduction in iOS 14 data will negatively impact performance of your Google advertising campaigns:

Like Facebook, Google is planning to expand modeled conversions to reach targeted iOS 14 traffic. App publishers are also being advised to upgrade to version 7.64 of the Google Mobile Ads SDK for new features support for Apple's SKAdNetwork for veryifying app installs and other attribution metrics.

What Marketers Should Do Now

Marketers should closely follow the guidance given by Apple, Facebook and Google about how to optimize campaigns in this uncertain environment. It is also the time to challenge your team to find ways to strengthen your brand's first-party data. Discuss these key questions:

Whether your goals are increasing brand engagement or app installs, there are new innovative, organic campaign techniques that exist today that do not require SDKs and do not put your company at risk for a data breach or a privacy backlash.

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