September is fast approaching, and with it comes Apple’s new user privacy regulations for iOS 14. Although its release date is yet to be set in stone, the update will dramatically change how advertisers target users on iOS. The question now is how advertisers can start getting ready and make sure they’re one step ahead once iOS 14 launches.
To help you navigate these changes, Adjust has outlined a step-by-step plan of five important elements you need to consider - from the most impactful user consent mechanisms to adapting your monetization strategies.
Before jumping into the practical steps you can start taking today, let’s take a quick recap on how iOS 14 will affect ad targeting.
How will these changes affect mobile marketing?
As of iOS 14, app developers will need to request user consent to track their users’ data via a pop-up message within the app.
For users who opt out of tracking, their IDFA will return a string of 0s, rendering it effectively useless. By default, a user is opted out right from when they launch an app. Once served the notification, they can decide to opt in or to confirm opt out sharing their IDFA on a per app basis - meaning that a user can decide to opt in for App A but opt out for App B.
The changes will specifically affect the ad targeting side of the ecosystem. Retargeting, exclusion targeting, segmentation, lookalike audiences and much more all currently rely on using the IDFA, so these changes will have big knock-on effects on ad monetization and user acquisition. It’s important to note that Adjust does not offer targeting or retargeting capabilities - our product only measures its performance.
There are a lot of key unknowns when it comes to targeting on iOS 14, and many of the technicalities still need to be ironed out before its release.
But we are confident that as an industry, we will find a solution that protects user privacy while also creating a sustainable future for app developers and advertisers - and we are looking forward to working closely with the industry to solidify a solution. App developers, as the core of the mobile ecosystem, also have a unique and influential opportunity to provide feedback on creating workable solutions within an appropriate timeframe - even if that means looking beyond September.
Regardless of the outcome, advertisers should start preparing for these changes so they can feel confident and ready once September rolls around. While it can be hard to know where to start, we’ve put together a checklist of items to help you prioritize over the next few weeks.
Getting ready for iOS 14: Where to start
To kick off, it’s important advertisers do a full internal review of current IDFA use. This will give you a solid understanding of where and how you use it, and how your business may be affected without it.
- On a per app basis, look at which SDKs are calling on the IDFA (which MMPs or networks? How do your mediation or CRM platforms rely on it?). Make sure to also talk to each of your SDK providers to hear about their solution for IDFA requests on iOS 14.
- Prepare and plan for a version release with the updated SDKs, making sure that all stakeholders are aware and will dedicate the right resources to its release.
- Decide if you will be using SKAdNetwork as an additional source of attribution, so you have plenty of time to familiarize yourself with the SKAdNetwork guidelines. This will also help you plan for its limitations - including limited post-install measurement so cohorted metrics won’t apply for this method, the 100 campaigns per app per network limit, lack of granular measurement, and the fact that it will report only major publishers, and its unsigned conversion values opening the door for fraud.
After doing a full review, user consent should be your next priority. After all, if users opt-in, you will be able to return to near-normal pre iOS 14 activity - and it will become a real competitive advantage to have high consent rates.
Unless a user reinstalls, apps get one chance at the opt-in with the Apple pop-up - so it’s important to optimize towards consent. That understandably puts a lot of pressure on the consent mechanic and message, and it will take some trial and error to get healthy opt-in rates. To get ahead of the curve, you can:
- Start running tests today on user consent mechanic testing for both new and existing users across your apps. Doing this before the official release of iOS 14 - and running several design iterations of the same pop-up - means you’ll be in a great position to implement your strongest iteration at launch. Below, you’ll see what Apple’s pop-up message will look like:
As you can see, the subheading is editable - so this is where you can show users exactly how their data will be used and promote the value of targeted ads.
You can also experiment with when exactly to trigger the pop-up, as this doesn’t necessarily need to be right from the app start. You could, for example, trigger it after a user has finished a certain activity in-app, is more familiar with the value your app delivers, and has built up brand trust.
- It’s also helpful to start researching successful approaches to push notifications and consent forms. The example below is especially good, as it prompts an internal push notification before the official consent form.
Instead of using the Apple pop-up straight away, you can gate it behind your internal prompt. That internal prompt is entirely yours, so you can customize, design and word it to best fit your app. Essentially, it works as your own internal consent form.
If the user says no, or in this case “Keep less relevant ads”, you can either change the in-app experience or allow the user to keep on using the app as is. However, make sure this does not then call the Apple pop-up, as you know that they will not opt in.
You can also serve this internal prompt as often as you want, so you can wait until a user spends more time in the app, finishes a level, performs a certain event or anything similar that shows that they’re more engaged to trigger the internal prompt again.
Once the user says yes (or “Turn on personalised ads”), that will be when the app triggers the Apple pop-up. When the user opts in on this pop-up, the IDFA will become available so brands can enrich their BI.
Importantly, similar to push notifications, in the case where a user says “yes” to an app’s internal prompt and “no” on the following pop-up, the app can still prompt a user and deeplink them into the settings menu of their device to allow tracking for your app. This can be done either right after a user says “no”, or further down the line.
We also like the example below, which clearly lays out why and how an app needs users’ consent.
3. Re-evaluating your BI stack
Consent or no consent, the changes to the IDFA will have a big impact on how your BI stack works. Make sure you’re well prepared by looking into:
- What different data sets are stitched together for your analytics - and figuring out how you can continue to stitch together this internal data after iOS 14 is released. We recommend focusing on the IDFV, ADID (your MMP unique identifier) and the UserID (your internal ID if it's being used across your entire mobile marketing stack).
- Verify that your S2S events sent to your MMP are not done via the IDFA as a join key. If they are, you will need to change it to a different parameter.
- While apps working without the IDFA will still be able to place contextual ads, they will no longer be able to place personalized ones. Knowing that personalized ads are worth much more, we recommend running several scenario analyses on what may happen if your ad revenue drops by various percentages, and prepare for what should happen as a reaction to these changes.
4. User acquisition
When it comes to user acquisition, marketers should take this time to talk with their marketing partners and align on IDFA use in their targeting strategy:
- A good marketing partner should leave you coming away with a solid expectation of how they are preparing for the change, specifically when it comes to lookalike audiences, retargeting, white-and blacklisting, and seed audiences.
- We’ve elaborated in a previous post about how SKAdNetwork severely inhibits an app’s targeting or retargeting capabilities. While we believe there is a need for a standard - and are working together with industry players to find a solution - we know that some apps will want to work with the SKAdNetwork for the time being. If you decide to implement this framework in your app, call registerAppForAdNetworkAttribution() at the app start, and define conversion postbacks with your partners in a way that makes sense to you both. If you choose to rely on SKAdNetwork, this will also affect your attribution and conversion metrics. In this case, partners will need to have registered their network with Apple, receive the post back from Apple, receive a 6-bit code to forward in-app conversion, and then prepare for optimization without cohort data.
- The changes are also going to impact your partner’s targeting abilities and the conversion data they receive from your MMP. It will no longer be granular per user - so keep that in mind when talking to partners.
- Use the next few weeks to share data with partners according to your data sharing policy, so they can cross behavioral targeting with contextual targeting.
- If you’re using any type of automation tool for optimizing your campaign, make sure you pause this setting for the first few days after the release and make manual optimizations instead - as the change is expected to increase rates.
- As every user is a LAT user by default, therefore, any targeting excluding LAT users or focusing on LAT users is no longer relevant.
- Finally, know that paid retargeting campaigns will not be as effective as before when it comes to targeting the requested audience list. This is now a good opportunity to diversify your re-engagement options - whether through push notifications, emails, SMS etc - as well as focusing on the right mechanisms to collect consent for these options.
If users opt-out of tracking, this will significantly affect your monetization capabilities - meaning no user behavioral targeting based on previous app activity, and no retargeting networks within your waterfall. Depending on your business model, this could have a big impact on your RPM (Revenue Per Mille). To best prepare, we advise you to:
- Have the same conversations you are having with marketing partners as with your mediation tools or monetization network. Again, the key here is to get a sense of how they expect to handle these changes.
- If you are using User Level Ad Revenue or Impression Level Revenue Data, it might not present the entire monetization potential. Make sure to consult with your MMP and your mediation provider about it, but higher opt-in rate will make it more effective.
- If you are tracking subscription revenue and other subscription-related events with a dedicated service, talk to your service provider to make sure the integration with your BI, MMP or product analytics won’t be impacted due to the lack of IDFA.
- Make sure to closely watch your ad monetization structure in the first weeks of the release. If you have any automated functions for prioritizing the waterfall we recommend you to turn these off.
Adjust will support iOS14 in full, and offer solutions using granular and SKAdNetwork implementations. We are always available to discuss our approach and share our insights with app developers, partners, and players in the industry.
We are working closely with our clients to help them understand and react to the changes coming up, and will continue to share more resources on the blog up to and beyond the launch of iOS 14. Stay tuned for more, and please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any further questions.