How to prepare for a limited IDFA mobile world?

iOS14 arrived a few months back, and while it was heralded by many, it came loaded with potential issues for the app marketing world. The primary issue? The de facto elimination of the Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA). After shockwaves rippled throughout the app ecosystem (alongside various mud slinging battles between Apple and Facebook), the reality remains that this update is here to stay- at least for now. Apple delayed the roll out of these changes which in turn bought the industry some time as it scrambled to understand how to operate without the identifier it has been used to for quite some time. 

This post aims to break down what this change actually means and help create suggestions in order to help strategize accordingly.

The Reliance on IDFA

Before creating any kind of action plan, it is important to fully understand just what IDFA is, its importance and how we have come to rely on it. The IDFA has been tracking app (and web) user data to provide ads that are more or less precision targeted. Referred to lovingly (by us) as an app cookie on steroids – it comes with full mobile attribution tracking from install to usage. Until now, an IDFA has been actively providing lucrative user data – yet Apple’s iOS 14 wants to shake things up by allowing users the option to decide whether they want to be tracked.

So instead of tracking being hidden cloak-and-dagger, tracking will now be placed at the forefront by way of an opt-in pop-up notification asking for user permission to have their data tracked. It’s safe to say that this move is fuelling the industry with dread as many anticipate an opt-in rate of 10-20% at most.

A Welcome Change?

Indeed this change is shaking up the industry, but who says it cannot be for the best? The industry has tackled similar issues before (think GDPR) and has come out the other side more agile, aware and responsible. Of course the IDFA newspiece takes most of the spotlight, but it’s important to note that Apple actually announced its emerging SKAdNetwork which aims to provide an alternative – with a few key limitations. This new framework waves goodbye to real time data delivery- every event will have a three-day delivery window and each additional event will see another 24 hour delay. This has in turn led MMPs to create a UI consisting of bundling SKAdNetwork into SDK – meaning that some MMPs are building brand new UIs which will extract and target key attribution metrics. It is critical to understand these UIs and track data with complete understanding – this could very well be key to weathering any storm of this new era.

It’s too easy to be blinded by these changes – seeing the bigger picture is critical as Apple rolls out this update. Now is the time to assess how your data is modelled, to optimize your upper funnel, to bring in third party experts and most importantly to be ready for any curve balls that could come your way as this update rolls out.

Tilting Your UA

While the new pop up might be an unwelcome addition to most 2021 app marketing strategies, it is important to note that there are creative ways around it, particularly for those not engaging with MMPs. Yes, expected conversion might very well be projected at 10-20% (yet to be proven), but the actual content inside the pop-up is in your hands. Developers can let their creative flags fly and perhaps beat the system by creating intuitive text to stand out from the competition and demonstrate the importance to users of opting in. If this methodology sees success then it’s surely a double win – these users can be targeted with similar messaging that has proven to work – and you are left with a quality audience that can be tracked. Now is the time to treat your opt-in messages like ads, to make them as enticing as possible and make sure all bases are covered.

It is far too easy to be blinded by the panic of IDFA that you cannot quite see the forest for the trees. In addition to working with MMPs and mobile user acquisition experts, it could very well be time to zoom out and look at other funnel metrics to optimize. UA teams need to concentrate more on upper funnel analysis- particularly as creating a deeper understanding of metrics (impressions, CTR, clicks…) could now be more important than ever before to identify trends more quickly.

Above all, it is critical to stay alert. All parties involved in this release are at the beginning of this journey, and there could very well be both minor and major twists along the way. Keeping one eye on current strategy mapping and another on how this update is progressing is key to success- be ready to move alongside any new changes and of course continue to check back here for any IDFA related updates. 

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