iOS 14.5 Will Bring Challenges For Advertisers, But Also New Opportunities For Those Who Get It Right

This article is sponsored by the Post-IDFA Alliance including Chartboost, Fyber, InMobi, Liftoff, Singular, Adcolony and Vungle. 

With the iOS 14.5 update rapidly approaching later this month, many advertisers are preparing for the worst. Who can blame them? At this point, they’ve heard the warnings about unmeasurable ad inventory and slow publisher adoption of the new App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework – and they’ve been paralyzed by a lack of convincing answers to these problems. In fact, a recent January survey by Singular found that 42% of marketers still don’t have a plan for how they are going to implement SKAdNetwork (SKAN), measure app installs, capture postbacks and manage conversions. 

But truthfully, the sky isn’t falling when it comes to mobile attribution and measurement in the post-ATT advertising environment. Advertisers still have a variety of proven solutions at their disposal to ease the transition and continue to achieve high-impact results. 

Identifying key post-ATT challenges for advertisers

Before we take a look at a few ways advertisers and their platform partners can begin to address the attribution and measurement changes that are coming, it’s important to understand what is changing and how it will affect advertisers moving forward.  

In the post-ATT environment, advertisers will have access to three distinct types of traffic: post-ATT SKAN-compatible traffic, pre-ATT measurable traffic and non-measurable traffic. Within 30 days of launch, it is expected 60% of all ad traffic will be subject to Apple’s new privacy centric SKAN as users opt out of IDFA sharing. As a result, this SKAN-compatible traffic will become the primary inventory both SSPs and DSPs will choose to support moving forward – and it’s the key challenge advertisers will need to solve from an attribution standpoint.   

Unlike pre-ATT postbacks that used IDFA and granular data to create 1:1 user level attribution for advanced behavioral targeting, SKAN postbacks will come with a handful of new limitations that will delay, randomize and anonymize them to protect user privacy. 

Targeting will shift from behavioral to contextual 

Without user-level behavioral data at their disposal, many advertisers fear they will lose the ability to target audiences with the same specificity – and with the same degree of success – they have come to expect. For iOS users who opt out of sharing their data, it is true that behavioral techniques will no longer offer a strong base for ad targeting. 

However, contextual techniques can still provide a powerful way to identify and target consumers based on a variety of other privacy compliant signals. Some of these signals include time of day, device model, publisher app and general location. 

In preparation for this seismic shift in targeting approach, members of the Post-IDFA Alliance have used the past eight months since Apple’s announcement to begin building algorithms, without relying on IDFA, that are capable of powering dynamic, contextually targeted ad campaigns. Using Limited Ad Traffic (LAT), or iOS traffic without IDFA, Liftoff and others have deployed contextual targeting to great effect for their clients. For example, Liftoff used non-personalized LAT traffic to help mobile game developer Playrix lower cost-per-install (CPI) and cost-per-in-app-purchase (CPA), when compared to IDFA traffic. Return on ad spend (ROAS) was also better in many cases. 

By partnering with ad platforms that have taken the time to develop powerful contextual algorithms, it’s now clear advertisers have an opportunity to unlock even greater campaign efficiency by moving to a proven contextual targeting strategy. 

Measurement is still a work in progress but signs are promising 

This leads to another challenge advertisers will need to solve once the update occurs: measurement. In the case study example, Liftoff and Playrix used detailed MMP attribution to accurately track installs and post-install events. Once iOS 14.5 arrives, those key data points will disappear. 

Instead, advertisers will receive one postback per user, per app – and these postbacks may be delayed by as much as 24 hours. In the short term, ROAS and other key metrics will need to be adjusted to account for these irregularities and missing values. In the longer term, advertisers will need to identify earlier events that correlate with down-funnel events to more accurately extrapolate ROAS values. 

Beyond these initial strategies, the true impact of SKAN on measurement remains somewhat of a mystery. To help address unexpected challenges quickly once iOS 14.5 goes live, industry collaboration efforts – like the Post-IDFA Alliance – will be critical in the coming weeks. By tackling these challenges together, the mobile ecosystem can minimize the disruptions created by iOS 14.5 and begin to develop new advertising strategies that allow advertisers to excel in a post-ATT world. 

To learn more about the Post-IDFA Alliance and their efforts to support a seamless transition to a more privacy-centric mobile advertising environment, visit noidfanoproblem.com.

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