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Last update: April 2021

4 mins to read - 2021/02/19

How Is Apple Changing Its Approach to IDFA With iOS 14?

As of the end of January 2021, Apple’s iOS 14 update has been live. The new operating system has included a lot of highly anticipated upgrades and UX improvements, including app clips, pinned conversations, and widgets, that change the way users interact with their mobile apps. But among app developers, there’s been a lot of apprehension around Apple’s change in approach to IDFA for the iOS 14. And this change is likely to affect the entire way app publishers deploy mobile marketing campaigns.

But first off, what is an IDFA?

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What Is an IDFA?

IDFA stands for Identifier For Advertisers. Apple assigns a randomized IDFA to each iOS device, which advertisers can use to track data to send users personalized advertising. The IDFA furthermore gives developers access to full insights on their users’ behavior, including what other apps they have downloaded, which mobile advertising campaigns they interact with, and more. Clearly, IDFAs are very valuable for app developers. They provide an accurate, extensive way to track Apple users and offer them more efficient advertising. However, they also function as a step in the right direction in terms of data privacy, due to their randomization of personal data.

How is Apple Changing IDFAs for the iOS 14?

In a push to increase trust and transparency with users with regards to data privacy, Apple announced:

“On iOS 14, apps will be required to ask users for permission to track them across apps and websites owned by other companies. Later this year, the App Store will help users understand apps’ privacy practices, and you’ll need to enter your privacy practice details into App Store Connect for display on your App Store product page.”

iOS 14 users will now receive a system message asking them if they consent to advertisers tracking their IDFA. Previously, to opt out of being tracked, device users had to go into the settings and manually opt-out. They did this by enabling the “limit ad tracking” option, or LAT. Currently, around 20% of Apple users have selected LAT, which means they do not receive targeted ads. This is in line with Apple’s approach to push notifications – where users receive a system message asking them if they want to opt-in, as opposed to Android’s automatically enabling notifications for mobile apps.

apple ios iphone

What Does This Mean for App Developers?

According to Eric Seufert, the enormity of this new approach to IDFA cannot be overstated:

“This is like a new era, new paradigm, rebuilding the entire tech stack that you have been operating with and hoping that you can sort of apply that to a similar looking strategy, right? This is a big deal.”

Under the old system, an estimated 70% of iOS users currently allow their IDFA to be tracked by app publishers. However, this was where they were opted in automatically, often without realizing that it’s being done. Under Apple’s new treatment of IDFA, many app developers fear that given the transparent choice, only about 10-15% of users will opt to have their data tracked by marketers. Apple users will also have a dashboard for the iOS 14, in which they will be able to see which persmissions, IDFA and otherwise, their apps are able to access.

So what can you do as an app developer? Understandably, there is a lot of uncertainty and even panic in the mobile apps industry, which has come to depend on the insights and metrics provided by tracking users’ IDFAs. However, similar upheavals in the iOS sphere took place with Apple’s iOS 12 update, which required apps to get users’ consent before sending them push notifications. And with the iOS 13 update, which gave users control over whether to allow apps to track their locations, and to what extent.

These previous changes forced app developers to adapt and innovate new ways to reach out to users, such as the pre-permission notification. Likewise, developers will likely come up with new ways of requesting Apple users for permission to track their IDFA.

With people speculating that Google will soon follow suit with making Google Ad Identifier (GAID) opt-in for its Android products, this new, transparent approach to mobile marketing will likely become the new norm. Many industries will simply no longer be viable, such as retargeting lapsed users based on their IDFA, or fingerprinting.

And publishers will likely respond in one of two ways. Publishers will either have to explain with users about the value of users consenting to have their IDFA tracked: i.e., they will receive targeted ads that are personalized to their interests, and likely more beneficial to them. Otherwise, there will have to be a change in the way app publishers advertise, with a greater focus on non-personalized app traffic. And plenty of marketers are already preparing for this shift in the paradigm.

How Can OpenBack Help You Make Back the Value Lost With Apple’s IDFA Change?

The primary value provided by the old way of tracking Apple users’ IDFAs was in being able to access the metrics of user behaviors in response to mobile marketing and advertising campaigns. Even if you do lose some users to Apple’s new opt-in requirements, OpenBack’s mobile engagement platform provides full metrics analysis for all of your push campaigns across multiple apps.

Unlike cloud-based push notification SDKs, OpenBack’s hybrid edge computing platform offers full insight into user interactions with your push notification, percentage of notifications that resulted in goal conversions, number of app installs, a complete visualization of the push notification funnel, and much more. For a full list of the metrics we offer so you can measure the impact of your mobile marketing spend, visit our Dashboard Metrics page.

Get in touch with one of our experts to learn more about how we can help you take advantage of a full metrics analysis of your mobile engagement campaign, and maximize your return on push.

Calculate how much your revenue would increase per month using OpenBack:

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