Mobile, Technology

6 Actions Advertisers Must Take To Prepare for iOS14

Changes to IDFA tracking in iOS 14 represents Apple’s response to the increasing concern over privacy. IDFA refers to Apple’s “Identifier for Advertisers”. The Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) is a random device identifier assigned by Apple to a user’s device. Advertisers use this to track data so they can deliver customized advertising. The IDFA is used for tracking and identifying a user (without revealing personal information) on Apple devices, and operates similarly to the Android Advertising Identifier (AAID) for Android devices.

Image Credit: Apple


With the new iOS 14 update, users must now opt-in to tracking, giving them more control over their data. Users are likely to opt-out. Since 2016, users who proactively turned on Limit Ad Tracking in settings tripled to 30%. It is the latest in a series of privacy clampdowns, such as Google’s plan to sunset tracking cookies, U.S. lawmaker worries in recent months about so-called bitstream data from ad auctions, and Europe’s ongoing clampdown on privacy issues. We’ve seen this domino affect in instances such as when Apple introduced Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) in 2017; Mozilla announced similar anti-tracking measures in 2018, followed by Google in 2019 What was once a tech-driven strategy will evolve into a ‘back-to-the-basics’ approach based on content and creativity.

If Users choose to opt-in, they will have access to the types of data collected and the app’s collection methods.

Image Credit: Twitter


Developers and marketers rely on the IDFA to power the following:

• Ad targeting and retargeting

• Frequency capping

• Campaign measurement

• Attribution

• Ad fraud detection


Advertisers distributing a high share of media activity on mobile app networks, will be heavily impacted. The most impacted group will be mobile networks that do not own any of their own user registration data (email, phone, address). There are existing workaround solutions that combine multiple signals to create a user ID (such as GPS, browser cookies, internet connection, etc.) or the upcoming SKADnetwork by Apple but the power of IDFA typically is more effective as it is applicable for the entire app ecosystem.

Targeting: It’s not that advertising will stop: rather, it’s likely that we will see a decrease in targeting power and control that will ultimately create more inefficiencies (like not being able to control frequency capping) and poor ad personalization leading to negative user experiences.

Apple’s new move may speed up a rising use of identity linking solutions and authenticated traffic solutions from various companies to enable “people-based” identification. Travel brands have an opportunity to start joint media network propositions where they are working together with third-party data partners to create a consent-based way to run long-term ad campaigns and communication. It could be travel blogs or other types of publishers, where you can deliver relevant ads to users, though getting alignment on how to interpret regulations would take some work.

Tracking: Apple has released the SKAd Network, which will not share any user, or device-level data with an advertiser. Simply put, it will allow Apple to control attribution passed back to Registered Ad Networks. Apple has indicated that SKAd Network will, only allow for click-based attribution, provide conversions in batches with a latency between 24 – 48 hours, no date stamp parameter will be provided, and limit Campaign IDs to 100 per ad network.

This change impacts not only the amount of data available for measurement but also introduces bias to the data used for attribution since the only user-level data tracked would be from consumers that choose to opt-in. The optimization of 1st party data is going to be essential for marketers moving forward.

Messaging: Companies will need to adapt messaging based on new data sources. As an industry, we’ve become reliant on browsing data to inform personalized messaging. Moving forward, we’ll need to consider the following data sources:

• Contextual

Let the environment of where the ad will be served guide the creative development. The podcast episode topic, the YouTube channel, and the blog article, can all be signals to inform a relevant message.

• Values, Affinities, Beliefs, Hobbies & Interests

Survey based data from partners like YouGov and Resonate provide insights on attitudinal data that increase creative relevancy.

Messaging based on specific digital click behavior associated with a browser cookie will become less available, and less reliable. Relevancy as informed by context, values, affinities, and beliefs will become more reliable as cross-device cookie, and IDFA data are removed. Brands will need to create ad messaging that will focus on the audience, not the cookie.

How will Facebook and Google be impacted by iOS14?

Since Facebook and Google have been collecting an increased amount of data points on its users such as email, phone number, credit card information, and usage of hardware devices, the walled gardens have an advantage over non-registration apps and mobile ad networks. Advertisers will not have the ability to collect data outside of Facebook and Google in iOS14, but targeting and measuring within Facebook and Google properties will remain valuable data sources.

Companies should follow these steps to prepare against the removal of iOS 14 and the increasing industry shift towards increased user privacy:

1. If you own an app, consult with your Mobile Measurement Partner on alternate solutions that rely on SKADnetwork or predictive measurement

◦ For brands that do not have an app, be sure that your website is not relying on IDFA data for personalization, or measurement.

2. License a Customer Data Platform (CDP) or Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system

◦ Brands can also try to build their own, but we recommend licensing existing software and can help you identify the right tool for your business.

3. Clean your CDP/CRM data.

◦ Too often brands have a CRM tool, but the data is either difficult to access or is not organized. Forrester Consulting reported that 21 cents out of every dollar spent in 2018 was wasted due to poor data quality. (source): Focus on cleaning and organizing the data before investing in growing the database.

Source: Digital Commerce 360

4. Grow your 1st party database.

First-party data refers to email addresses, phone numbers, and other information consumers agree to share directly with companies in exchange for things like loyalty program benefits. With Apple changing the game, this data will be more valuable.

5.Explore 2nd party data sets

2nd Party data is someone else’s 1st party data. This can be activated through publisher direct deals. (Insert Link to BCM 2nd party data article)

6. Monitor Website Traffic Trends

◦ Schedule monthly traffic reports, filtered by device and operating system. This will help you understand the impact of these tracking changes on your audience.

The removal of IDFA with the upcoming launch of iOS 14, is just another key milestone on the timeline of increased user control of data privacy. This continuum does not stop with IDFA, as will continue with browsers, device manufacturers, mobile carriers, internet providers, and web properties such as Facebook, Google and Amazon.

James Mullany BCM's Group Director

James Mullany BCM's Group Director

By Brooke Abbott and Erick Cedano
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Brooke Abbott and Erick Cedano

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