Navigating IDFA changes with the Apple iOS 14.4 Update

In 2020 Apple announced that along with the iOS 14.4 update, the company planned to give users the opportunity to opt-in to data-tracking, instead of the current model in which users must decline to provide information. It’s part of a policy shift that makes privacy a user’s right, and it will play out in a device-level pop-up asking a user if they would like opt-in to being tracked when they use an app like Facebook.

Policy shift that makes privacy a user’s right

In the Apple ecosystem, this is known as IDFA, or the Identifier for Advertisers, which is used to identify and measure how effective an ad is at the user level across multiple devices.

Acquisition Versus Engagement:

How Advertisers think about Audience Targeting

This is notable because there are two camps when it comes to mobile advertising. The first is user acquisition. This occurs when a brand runs campaigns that rely on a conversion from a mobile device (a sale, app download, etc). The second is user engagement–when a brand is running a campaign seeking users to interact with the ad or piece of content.

How this May Affect your Campaign

The IDFA update is likely to affect brands looking to measure app installs or other high-level conversions while leaving the engagement crowd largely intact. The interesting part of this move is that even if a user opts out of being tracked, it doesn’t mean they will not see ads in platforms like Facebook. Instead, they will see ads that use contextual targeting (ads served based on page content consumption) as the basis for finding new customers.

As you can imagine, this is an issue for Facebook – Apple’s chief rival – since its revenue is derived largely from ads. The Apple change has Facebook very worried, to the point that Chief Financial Officer David Wehner warned analysts to expect a dip in ad revenue (once its ability to track user activity on Apple devices is throttled). In response, Facebook has shortened its attribution window from 28 days to just 7 days and looks to counter Apple by providing advertisers with more “on-site conversion opportunities.”

When Will this be an Issue?

Apple hasn’t given advertisers or Facebook any definitive timeline of when this could happen, loosely stating “early 2021”. This is why Facebook and marketers are working quicky to adapt and prepare. If your company isn’t proactive during a tectonic shift like this, when it happens, you will feel a larger impact.

How many users will opt-out of tracking?

Analysts predict that 80% of iOS users will not opt-out, but that guesstimate still leaves a significant number of Apple users unrecognizable to your campaign.

To further understand the importance of this analysis, 98% of Facebook users access the app via a mobile device and 63% of the mobile devices in use are Apple products.

How can you prepare for all of this?

Think about and review attribution models to determine how they will be affected. Understand that your first-party data is more important than ever, and talk to an expert who can help guide you and your advertising dollars through what will be a tumultuous time in digital advertising.

One thing is certain – both Google and Facebook will be working to mitigate the iOS14.4 issues as fast as they are able.

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Contributed by Eric Hultgren, Director of Content and Social Media

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