How To Reprioritize iOS Retargeting In A Post-ATT Landscape

By Margot Miller, Brand Content Manager, Adikteev

We’re a year into Apple’s AppTrackingTransparency (ATT) framework, and it’s time for app marketers to reconsider their iOS budget and dust off their iOS retargeting campaigns. With opt-in rates and overall IDFA availability far above what most expected, data shows iOS users continuing to generate significant revenue and higher ROAS – adding up to an impossible-to-ignore opportunity.

We all prepared for the worst

In the long buildup to the release of ATT that finally happened last April, dire warnings predicted opt-in rates in the 10% to 20% range – some even as low as 5%. The expected near-disappearance of available IDFAs was especially troubling given iOS users’ higher-than-average app spending.

At Adikteev, we were a little more optimistic: We ran some experiments in mid-2020 that suggested opt-in rates could be much higher than 20%. Still, we advised app marketers to shift ad spending to the more-stable Android retargeting market while we waited to see how ATT played out.

Opt-in rates are much higher than expected

With a year of data, it’s clear that ATT will not completely devastate IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers) availability as predicted. After an early drop – Adikteev figures put IDFA availability at 23% in May 2021 – IDFA availability quickly rebounded and remained steady around one-third of all iOS users. Our latest report showed nearly 40% of iOS IDs still available.


iOS users still generate substantial in-app revenue

While 40% is quite a drop from roughly 74% pre-ATT, research shows iOS users continue to spend substantially more, on average, than Android users. In other words, while IDFAs did drop, the yearly in-app revenue generated from iOS users is still significant.

Even more promising for app marketers, although the percentage of device IDs is around 40%, we’ve found the percentage of events on iOS 14.5 and above is greater than the percentage of available user IDs. This leads us to conclude that users running iOS 14.5 and above are more active on average than users running older iOS versions.


In fact, when looking at iOS revenue for April 2022, we found that over half of in-app revenue was generated by users who opted in to share their device ID. Indeed, our clients running campaigns on iOS are still seeing positive ROAS, proving there is still room to make the most of high-value users.


App marketers should reinvest in UA and retargeting on iOS

It seems like nobody got this one right – and in this case, we’re quite happy it’s been better than expected.

By mid-2021, we saw that ATT wasn’t going to kick off an IDFA apocalypse. Now, we’re confident that IDFA availability isn’t going to drop by any relevant measure through the next year.

It’s time for app marketers that got cold feet and shifted spending away from iOS to get back to these valuable, high-spending users. The possibilities for retargeting (and even user acquisition) on iOS are still very much there. Even with a smaller number of user IDs, performance on iOS 14.5 and above remains quite high. A high ROAS is easily achievable with a smart retargeting strategy.

Rethinking user retention strategies in a privacy-centric future

Positive in-app revenue outcomes and ROAS for post-ATT iOS users is good news for all app marketers. But there’s also no denying that retargeting on iOS has changed significantly.

Moreover, ATT and Google’s coming GAID (Google Advertising ID) changes reflect a broader shift in user privacy standards – and signal the need for app marketers to get more strategic about engaging valuable users without relying only on device IDs. Tempting as it may be to find loopholes and work-arounds, app marketers should be looking for sustainable solutions and getting more strategic about maximizing the long-term value (LTV) of existing audiences.

Some of the most successful and forward-thinking app marketers are turning to AI-driven cross-promotion to keep audiences engaged within an app portfolio. Machine learning technologies are taking the guesswork out of the cross-promo game, intelligently predicting which users are most likely to churn, identifying the right portfolio app(s) to offer and serving up the cross-promo ads at the exact right time.

Whatever happens with IDFA availability in the coming months and years, app marketers should be looking to supplement retargeting with smart strategies to maximize user LTV at the app portfolio level, without the need for device IDs.

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