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What Apple’s Changes to IDFA Mean for Marketers

George Phipps

Director of Product Marketing

How brands must adjust in a post IDFA world 

At its Worldwide Developers Conference in June, Apple announced changes to its IDFA, or Identifier for Advertisers, which help advertisers target and track users in apps on iOS devices. 

Although Apple won’t fully eliminate the feature, as some feared, it will change the default setting for Apple’s IDFA sharing to require user opt-in. In other words, every app publisher must now ask users with Apple devices to enable IDFA sharing – via an ominous prompt that warns of IDFA tracking “across apps and websites owned by other companies” and offers the choice to either “Allow Tracking” or “Ask App Not to Track.” Some large publishers are not taking this well

Mobile marketers and advertisers who rely on Apple’s IDFA aren’t too confident that users will take the option to opt-in, especially as concerns around data sharing and privacy loom large. 

Today, about 30% of iOS users in the U.S. have opted out of sharing IDFA information by manually enabling “Limit Ad Tracking” on their iPhone or Apple device, an option tucked away behind several pages of iOS settings. With Apple IDFA changes, many expect the number of opt-outs will grow to 80 or 90%.

Brands that see IDFA as the backbone of their advertising programs have voiced concerns about how these Apple IDFA changes may limit their ability to target and suppress advertisements to users across apps.

Who is (and isn’t) impacted?

It’s no surprise that there are sweaty palms in the $80 billion mobile advertising industry. But let’s take a moment to consider who’s impacted and who’s not.

The biggest casualty of Apple’s changes to IDFA are mobile app publishers who rely on advertising to generate revenue. IDFA plays a critical role in attributing ad conversion to specific iPhone users, which enables an iOS app developer or publisher to demonstrate the success of an ad to the advertiser who purchased it. Without IDFA, publishers are flying blind and advertisers would have to spend money without any clear understanding of their return on ad spend.

The other affected party is advertisers: usually brands that are buying ads across mobile & web platforms. 

To be clear, changes to IDFA will have no impact for brands looking to better understand user behaviors and deliver personalized experiences within their own iOS app. The benefit IDFA provides is the ability to track users across mobile app and web activities across different apps, but customers within the walls of a brand’s app will already have unique identifiers that can be used to track in-app activity and deliver personalized content.

Instead, it’s advertisers looking to acquire new customers and suppress existing customers through ads delivered across the app ecosystem that are affected by Apple’s changes to IDFA. With the new user opt-in requirements, advertisers lose the key to their existing acquisition and growth strategy.

So, what’s the path forward?

For these advertisers, there are a couple of options to keep ad programs productive and cost-effective.

Advertise in known channels

Many consumers that brands target through IDFA will be associated with other user-specific identifiers, like email addresses and phone numbers. As a first measure, evaluate what your strongest identifiers are outside of IDFA and consider shifting investments to channels that will target using those IDs.

Often, those identifiers can be shared with platforms like Facebook, Google, Twitter, Instagram, and used to run cross-platform ad campaigns and suppressions. 

Of course, volumes will be lower overall – for example, one of our clients has email addresses for about 65% of their IDFA audience, which could support retargeting on other platforms – but acquisition and growth are still very viable with those identifiers.

Upgrade your mobile addressability

With the end of third-party cookies and changes to IDFA looming, identifiers for inventory across paid channels are becoming an endangered species.

But not every brand that’s heavily invested in mobile advertising is losing sleep over Apple’s changes to IDFA. These brands have started to take advantage of solutions that provide effective, privacy-centric mobile addressability without IDFA

ActionIQ’s PersonMatch 360 solution, for example, is made possible by a partnership with LiveRamp and its IdentityLink product. The solution deftly uses machine-learning and identity graphs to build robust profiles of unknown customers.

For brands that are unable to meet advertising goals with known first-party identifiers alone, the joint solution enables organizations to build a much more complete database of unknown first-party identifiers and provide a crucial boost to addressability. Ultimately, marketers are able to dramatically improve their paid advertising efforts across mobile, web, and social platforms by improving the accuracy of targeting and suppressions.

To learn more about the ActionIQ product, check out our Customer Data Platform solution brief or contact us to set up a meeting or request a demo.

Written By

Director of Product Marketing

George is dedicated to educating enterprise businesses about the impact on customer experience and organizational performance enabled by centralizing customer data. He works closely with creative and prolific engineers, UX designers, marketers to help design and enhance technologies that improve access to customers' data.

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