The latest version of Apple’s iOS 14 operating system will arrive next week. The digital marketing industry was set to change fundamentally because of the changes made to IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers – the only way to track users in apps on iOS).
While these changes no longer coincide with the release of this update, Apple has announced that they will still be available on devices in the near future. What are the changes, why are they important to the digital marketing industry, and what is likely to mean for you?
Data as currency
The internet may look free, but there is one currency that pays for everything. Data. Your data. As long as the internet has existed, it has been funded by advertising, and over time that advertising has become more sophisticated as we collect more and more data about users and use it to target people in increasingly specific ways. This alignment is based on who they are, what they have done online, what they might be interested in, and so on. As we’ve evolved, the value of our data has increased and advertisers are willing to pay a premium to access this information so they can target us online. Companies like Google and Facebook have built their entire business on it and made billions in the process.
However, it comes as no surprise to many that most people don’t like ads. A current survey shows that 74% of people are actively doing what they can to avoid ads by paying for content, using an ad blocker, or changing the way they consume media. In recent times, a lot of privacy protection has been neglected as a large part of consumers require active efforts, whether it be changing their browser, browsing your phone settings, or browsing a cookie banner to minimize your exposure. It’s not easy or convenient. And so the status quo continues.
What made these upcoming changes from Apple so seismic is not that it was new. These changes to IDFA have been hidden in iOS and Settings for some time. The special thing about it now is how Apple lives up to its claim to data protection by placing this box in front of every user who starts an app that they want to track using IDFA:
Who clicks “Allow Tracking”? I would not. Would you?
The impact on the industry
We know these changes are significant as Google and Facebook are concerned about them. Facebook tried to rally developers by telling them about it how it would likely affect their income. Google, which has its own operating system through which it can continue to collect data, appears to be publicly involved and provides advice to developers on compliance. In the background, however, advertisers were reportedly advised to stop using Target ROAS as their UAC bid strategy because Google would no longer be able to collect the post-install data required to feed the algorithm.
The good news for the industry is that Apple announced last week that these changes won’t coincide with the launch of iOS14 in September. Instead, they will come in early 2021. So there is a break, but it is only temporary.
All of this is against the backdrop of, at least in the EU, more extensive changes to data protection regulations that could have even wider implications for the digital marketing industry and the existence of things like the humble cookie.
Similar to other big changes in recent years, like mobile-first indexing, we have more time to find a way forward than we originally expected. We should use this time wisely!
If you’re not running an app, it might be hard to see how this can affect you as a marketer. But think about for a moment how big the Apple install base is (it was reported in January 1.5 billion active devices). This data is used to create target group profiles. Chances are that this could make the systems we use to run our campaigns less useful. This could also mean less ad inventory is available. In their post, Facebook implied that if this happens, it may no longer be worth running the Audience Network on iOS devices. As a result, advertisers will compete for fewer inventory spaces, potentially meaning higher prices for everyone.
The other consideration is the nudge effect that such a thing can have. As we saw with the Cambridge Analytica scandal, users were shocked to find out how their data was being used – although it was open knowledge to anyone in the industry. What this is likely to spark is the appetite for more easily implementable privacy changes – and Apple, with its market share and existing stance on privacy, is very well positioned to take advantage of this. When Apple and Mozilla introduced enhanced privacy practices in the Safari and Firefox browsers, Google was forced to follow suit. We have been able to see much of the digital marketing ecosystem that has fallen down like a series of dominoes over the next few years as this topic becomes increasingly important.
Ultimately, when you run an app, you have to be compliant if you want to continue to thrive in the Apple ecosystem. (Straight Ask Fortnite how to do it when trying to bend the rules.) If you’re not running an app, we’ll have to wait and see what major platforms like Google and Facebook do in response.
However, what anyone can do is become aware and plan for how this broader industry is changing become Impact on you. If we can no longer clearly identify users when the ePrivacy Regulation goes into effect, Apple’s changes to IDFA are the least of our concerns. This could mean the end of cookies, IDFA, and any technique we can use to track users, e.g. B. Browser fingerprints.
Ask yourself questions about what your digital marketing would be like if you couldn’t pursue it to the same extent. What if you can’t identify relevant users in the same way? Rather than just looking for workarounds that go against the spirit (and maybe even the letter) of the law of these new regulations, get back to basics and develop alternative plans. Think about your KPIs – do we need to think about digital things that are similar to television and other offline activities that we cannot measure directly? We don’t have all the answers for you – but it is food for thought.
We recommend studying Contextual Targeting 2.0 and focusing less on user demographics. Also, learn more about the ePrivacy Regulation – while we can hope for the best, we can certainly plan the worst. As users become more digital and understand the value of their data, this trend will only accelerate. Our job as marketers and agencies is therefore to help our clients stay on top. Change can be.
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