What Marketers Should Know About Apple's iOS 14 Update
Apple’s iOS 14 update, set to release in the fall, creates additional challenges for digital marketers’ ability to interact with and identify users. Announced at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), iOS 14 is Apple’s latest update in privacy initiatives to protect consumer data — this time by restricting the availability of their in-app advertising identifier (IDFA). Understanding what iOS 14 actually entails will be the first step in anticipating the impacts on your analytics data.
What does iOS 14 actually mean for digital marketers?
According to Apple's iOS 14 Preview, multiple privacy updates will be made, including requiring user consent before having in-app data collected, and notifying users about data that apps may attempt to collect. The restriction in app trackers goes hand-in-hand with Apple's Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) initiative in the Safari Browser, and is in line with the industry shift towards protecting consumer analytics data.
iOS 14 restricts digital marketers’ ability to accurately identify users for remarketing and attribution by restricting the availability of a user’s IDFA. Top-of-funnel tactics (e.g. personalized ads) that rely heavily on audience pools for accuracy will see the most impact, and it will become increasingly difficult to accurately map out a customer’s journey over longer periods of time.
What is Apple’s IDFA?
Apple’s Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) is a random identifier assigned by Apple to their devices. Digital marketers can leverage the IDFA to track data for customized advertising and identify a user (without surrendering personal information) for aggregated insights.
How does iOS 14 limit access to Apple's IDFA?
This isn’t the first time Apple has restricted advertisers’ access to the IDFA. Prior to iOS 14, Apple gave the option to enable Limit Ad Tracking (LAT) within the settings, which would send a blank device ID to advertisers instead of a device-specific ID. Approximately 15-20% of Apple users previously enabled this setting, and with iOS 14 increasing LAT visibility, we can expect this number to increase significantly.
How can we prepare?
Digital marketers have already been working with restricted access to users’ IDFA in the mobile web. To track conversions from web-to-app, probabilistic attribution models are favored in order to compensate for the mobile browser’s inability to access the IDFA. A similar approach could be adopted for app-to-app conversions in lieu of the deterministic attribution models that leverage IDFA for device identification. To provide some data on ad campaigns without exposing the IDFA, Apple released their ad network API (SKAdNetwork) for iOS 11.3+ in 2018. This would provide some insight into which campaigns are driving app-to-app conversions, but does not allow for user- or device-specific data to be collected.
As of today, the major marketing tool platforms and ad vendors have not created a perfect solution for device identification in a post-IDFA world. With more initiatives toward protecting consumer analytics data, evolving your analytics strategy to leverage persistent, unified customer databases across all touchpoints would be a way to proactively mitigate these challenges in mapping out a customer’s journey.
At Rise, protecting customer privacy is as important to us as working with our clients to develop and implement custom solutions, leveraging both first-party and third-party data, to get the most out of every dollar spent. These custom solutions include strategically implementing Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) to be able to provide holistic insights for data-driven decisions. As every client’s needs are unique, we are continuing to work with clients and vendors to maximize the value of your data.
Reach out to Rise with any questions you have or to get more information on how your brand can best prepare for this update.