Apple announces IDFA, Google likely to follow

By Lorna White

MediaCom

London, United Kingdom

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Headlines for the mobile industry have been dominated by Apple’s announcement regarding its change in approach with IDFA (identifier for advertisers). IDFA is what enables marketers and brand advertisers to identify and track user behaviour in an app. It hasn’t been completely removed, but the latest IOS update will opt users out of all data sharing so they will need to opt back in.

The move by Apple puts users' privacy at the forefront. Photo courtesy of janeb13 via Pixabay.
The move by Apple puts users' privacy at the forefront. Photo courtesy of janeb13 via Pixabay.

Apple and Google have taken steps to put users’ privacy at the forefront of their operations. Google announced earlier this year it was phasing out third-party cookies from Chrome, so this news was expected, but the announcement was a lot earlier than predicted.

Ultimately, the move is a positive one as it focuses on consumer privacy and security. However, the impact for advertising in app is likely to be huge. With users being opted out, data points available for advertiser brands will see a huge drop in volume following the update, with IOS being a large proportion of the in-app inventory.

Not only does the move impact inventory but also the ability to attribute — measuring advertisers against users and therefore the role played in any potential conversion for brands. This means determining the efficiency of in app within the overall marketing mix becomes really difficult and potentially inaccurate.

In the short term, there is potential that spend will naturally shift more to Android because inventory and measurement is available. However, as was noted with the browser update, this is not a long-term solution. Google will likely follow this strategy, so brands need to prepare and educate themselves on the options available.

From another perspective, it is unknown what the full impact might be. Knowing consumers are actively downloading apps when they are useful to them means they will potentially be more open to opting back in when they are prompted to in order to improve the benefit and/or performance of the app. Therefore, as with GDPR opt ins, there could be potential for a large initial drop off, followed by a gradual rebuilding of opted-in users — hopefully delivering a higher quality data pool.

Preparing for the impact to ensure advertiser spend is not wasted is essential. However, since user privacy is central to this move, overall, it is positive for the industry as a whole.

Banner image courtesy of Alexey Novikov via Adobe Stock.

About Lorna White

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