Explained: What Apple’s Privacy Changes Mean For You (And For Advertising)

Adelaide, Australia - September 20, 2013: Entering passcode on an iPhone 4 running iOS 7. iOS 7 is the foundation of iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. It comes with a collection of apps and useful features. The iOS 7 update features a redesigned interface and hundreds of new features.

It’s a move that has almost been 12 months in the making, but Apple has finally rolled out the iOS 14.5 software update – signifying the end of the beginning of the app tracking transparency (ATT) framework.

The changes are all about giving users more control over how their data is shared and a greater sense of privacy online.

Apple CEO Tim Cook is on the record as saying “privacy is a fundamental human right” and the ATT framework will certainly take steps towards this. Once iOS 14.5 has been installed on an Apple device, users will need to give explicit permission for apps to access their data via the identifier for advertisers (IDFA), which was previously activated by default.

Apple’s prompt will ask users: “Allow [app name] to track your activity across other companies’ apps and websites?”

Earlier this year, dating app Bumble tipped opt-in rates to be as low as 0-20 per cent. IAB Australia has seen average opt-in rates of 20-35 per cent so far through its members’ testing.

The ATT framework will no doubt improve privacy online for iOS users, but as the predicted opt-in rates suggest, there are grave concerns about how these changes will impact advertisers who rely on data collected through these apps to target customers.

Are we ready?

When the ATT framework was first announced at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference in June of last year, there was great conjecture, with app developers sharing their concerns about the short timeframe they’d been given to prepare for the changes (which was initially appeared to be a couple of months).

Developers have now had almost 12 months to prepare, thanks to a delayed rollout from Apple.

So are we ready?

“We’ve had enormous engagement from our members keen to ensure that they are all prepared, hence the wide range of information updated and dedicated webinars that we have been engaging in over the past 6 months,” IAB Australia technology lead Jonas Jaanimagi told B&T.

“We are therefore confident that the industry at least feels prepared at least for what is to come and what needs to be done initially.

“However, we still must expect significant negative impacts in terms of efficiencies and effectiveness as consumers gradually shift over to iOS14.5 and are obligated to opt-in to ad tracking.”

What changes for advertisers?

To go with IDFA and ATT, advertisers should also be familiarising themselves with the ‘SKAN’ acronym – that is StoreKitAdNetwork.

The SKAN will serve as a measurement solution for advertisers, making performance data available without sharing the identity of a user.

“App installs will be measured via the SKAdNetwork. The SKAdNetwork is part of an Apple framework for developers developed to help advertisers measure the success of their ad campaigns while maintaining user privacy,” said Jaanimagi.

“The SKAdNetwork framework allows app advertisers to measure the effectiveness of app install campaigns without the ability to track individual users

And while SKAN will provide advertisers with a valuable attribution method, there are time delays and limits to the number of available campaign slots per advertiser.

The concerns for advertisers are clear.

“Advertisers will suffer as reach and measurement will be impacted and this could push advertisers to focus more on android and web-based traffic,” Jaanimagi said.

“Meanwhile, app developers will suffer as iOS audiences will be less monetisable overall and they may start having to reconsider their previous ad-funded strategies for their products.”

It might not be all bad news, however, with Jaanimagi predicting the IDFA-enabled traffic – which users opt-in to share – to become more valuable and generate higher yields for those publishers that are able to get their hands on it.

Tips for iOS14.5 success

Jaanimagi has some advice for navigating Apple’s latest changes, specifically in relation to SKAN.

“We are recommending that all of our members update their SDKs (software development kit) to the latest versions and start working closely with Apple’s SKAdNetwork framework, as advertisers will have no other way to measure and to attribute installs,” he said.

With governments around the world continuing to introduce regulation about how businesses collect data and companies like Apple and Google now enforcing privacy-led features, Jaanimagi believes there is a clear lesson.

“Moving forwards, the entire advertising industry will need to approach everything with a ‘privacy by design’ mindset and be prepared to engage in an open value exchange with consumers with regards to how they collect data for marketing and ensure that there is full consent for its usage,” he said.

“This is explicit in all IAB Tech Lab specifications released recently in relation to user enabled IDs and locally we have now launched the IAB Australia Privacy Essentials for Media & Marketing Professionals in conjunction with Salinger Privacy, to help support the industry through these changes as legislation here evolves.”

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