How Apple’s App Tracking Transparency framework has impacted marketers

As per a report by Flurry Analytics, only 13% of global iOS users have allowed apps to track them, signaling a shift in most of the consumers’ mindsets towards privacy

How Apple’s App Tracking Transparency framework has impacted marketers
Apple’s ATT rollout had a significant impact on advertisers.

By Sanjay Trisal

Apple’s update on iOS 14.5 App Tracking Transparency (ATT) did wonders when it landed in the market. By prioritising the users’ data over granular marketing measurement, this privacy-first move significantly impacted the targeted digital advertising ecosystem on iOS devices. With a 66% current user adoption rate in India, consumers are increasingly embracing privacy, thereby impacting marketers and the efficacy of their marketing ad campaigns, targeting, personalisation, reporting, and more. As privacy concerns and platform regulations continue to loom over marketers, out-of-the-box thinking, agility, and redefining the performance marketing campaigns will be the key to providing the ideal personalised experience for customers.

The Future Is Private for Consumers

From providing rich customer insights and data by tracking individual devices to allowing brands to analyse user behavior, unique device IDs served a critical purpose in creating powerful marketing strategies. Apple’s pivot to privacy effectively spells the end of Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) and tightens the flow of this user data, giving consumers more control over their data. As per a report by Flurry Analytics, only 13% of global iOS users have allowed apps to track them. This signals a shift in most of the consumers’ mindsets towards privacy. There are a couple of implications for users:

Full transparency on data practices: With continuous innovation to preserve user privacy, Apple lets users share their data as they wish, in a way that is safe, easy to understand and in their control. Each app is required to show a ‘nutrition label’, detailing the types of data collected and shared so that users can make informed usage decisions.

Opt-in to tracking across web & app: With iOS 14.5, iPadOS 14.5, and tvOS 14.5, apps must ask for permission before tracking consumers’ activity across other companies’ apps and websites. Now, end users have a choice to allow app developers to access their data and activity for purposes of tracking across apps and websites. 

The Future Is Complicated for Advertisers

On the flip side, Apple’s ATT rollout had a significant impact on advertisers. A complicated future stands ahead for brands and advertisers owing to massive limitations and challenges in mobile measurement and targeted advertising.

IDFA becomes obsolete: The IDFA was initially activated by default on Apple devices and provided user-level data to app publishers. This has been discontinued, and explicit user permission will be required for apps to access IDFA. The IDFA prompt (ATT) results in massive opt-out rates, effectively making IDFA unavailable for advertisers. With the user ‘opt-in’ rate for tracking across iOS sitting at 45% in India, it is a legitimate concern for marketers.

SKAdNetwork is limited: SKAd is an approach that falls within the boundaries of differential privacy and makes it impossible to infer any individual user’s behavior, while still allowing linking of behavior across different digital properties. This Apple solution for deterministic attribution is limited, complicated, and makes it difficult to measure LTV, retention, and usage patterns. 

Monetization is a challenge: Targeted ads are a vital element of the marketing strategy by a good share of businesses, including small, medium, and large. Less the targeting data, the lesser will be the value of ads. This update, thus, not only puts the pressure on advertisers but also on the ad-based app economy at large. The internet’s biggest app businesses are significantly impacted by this update and, subtly, also signals them to shift their budgets from advertising to brand campaigns.

User experiences are broken: This move will make it challenging for advertisers to meaningfully link user behavior across apps and mobile websites in the iOS ecosystem. Remarketing and deferred deep linking is heavily affected by the loss of persistent identifiers, disrupting user flows and weakening the user experience.

How Can Digital Marketers Adapt?

With greater consumer control over privacy, this update presents an opportunity for marketers to stay ahead of the curve. Acknowledging that these updates are here to stay and adapting to them will be crucial for success in the privacy-centric future.

Building trust in consumers: As Apple intensifies attention around its privacy policies and features, businesses can stand up to assure consumers about their policies not being intrusive. Brands that exhibit honesty and candidness to customers have an opportunity to boost customer loyalty.

Testing messages: Before giving out the ATT consent form, deploy priming techniques like testing and evolving your value proposition messaging. Outlining how you will use user data and providing more value to a consumer in exchange will build trust and increase the likelihood of customers sharing their data.

Investing in brand campaigns to build awareness: Customers are more likely to share their data with a well-known and trusted brand. Advertise your brand, on digital platforms or offline, with meaningful messaging to build your brand presence. Brands that strive to sustain common messaging and standing across channels are expected to be aptly rewarded.

As Apple’s ATT framework is likely the start of a privacy-centric era in-app marketing, businesses that are agile in embracing customers’ concerns, revamping their privacy technologies, and enhancing their marketing measurement toolkit will be the ultimate winners.

The author is general manager of AppsFlyer INSEA/ANZ. Views expressed are personal.

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First published on: 14-11-2021 at 09:55 IST