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IDFA Impact Survey: How the mobile app industry is preparing for iOS 14

Sep 04, 2020


Adam Blacker

Sep 04, 2020

VP, Insights

Update - 9/3/20: Apple has delayed the implementation of iOS 14 privacy measures until early 2021 to give mobile advertisers and mobile app publishers more time to prepare. This makes sense, given the responses from our survey:

When iOS 14 rolls out, Apple is providing users a clear choice for whether their IDFAs (unique advertising identifiers) are available for tracking or not. Most of us are assuming a significant portion of people will not opt-in. This will obviously disrupt the way user acquisition and retargeting are handled. Through the SKAdNetwork, Apple will fill in some of the attribution gaps, but that is not a perfect 'rip and replace' for the current system the mobile industry is used to. As of 9/3, Apptopia estimates that only 155 apps have SKAdNetwork configured so far.

Understandably, we've had many clients asking us what other publishers and/or advertising networks are saying they are doing to prepare. To get the answers, we launched an anonymous survey that you yourself may have filled out. Here are some top takeaways:

- There is no clear-cut solution people are turning to

- Fingerprinting is the most hotly contested solution for user-level targeting

- 34% of publishers said they will be decreasing the number of ad networks they work with

- 55% said they will focus more on Android once iOS 14 takes hold; however, 85% of these same respondents expect Google to do the same thing with GAID within 365 days


You can find the multiple-choice survey results in the infographic below, but we also asked respondents several open-ended questions. Responses varied widely, but here's a good summary:

Advertising Networks & DSPs - How will you replace IDFA for user-level targeting in auctions?

24% of respondents said they have "no clue". Outside of that, there was a large mix of people saying they will turn to fingerprinting and/or targeting people contextually. This is contrasted with several responses saying fingerprinting will absolutely not work:

"Fingerprinting is dead given insufficient entropy, and ID/PII co-ops will never offer enough reach and freshness to accurately deliver sufficient impressions (especially overseas). Here's hoping app publishers withhold content unless users opt-in to negate the effects of this anti-competitive effort by Apple."

"Apple's TOS prevents fingerprinting, full stop. Anyone saying otherwise is delusional. Apple enforces the letter AND spirit of its agreements. They will come for the fingerprinters and "probabilistic determination" folks."

Others also said they hope publishers "withhold content" until users opt-in, to preserve their revenue models. Outside of fingerprinting and contextual targeting, we read people will try to triangulate proprietary user-level data, deploy probabilistic targeting, use Apple's IFV, and/or just rely on the opt-ins.

Publishers - How do you think this changes your tech stack for re-engagement, if at all?

17% of respondents said they are still determining this, while 22% said they will not change anything. A few publishers said they will "table" re-engagement for now and wait it out to see what makes sense. Others said they will need to implement hashed IDs.

Anything else you want to mention?

- Publishers believe it will be more costly to retarget users with what will be a smaller addressable audience. Several will be experimenting with getting user consent to track their IDFAs. And most will be looking for their attribution partners to help and provide guidance.

- One retargeting platform said they are evaluating guidance on incentivizing users to opt-in.

- Interestingly enough, there was a cohort of respondents who were already invested in targeting LAT (limit ad tracking) users as they believe they are typically of a higher value.


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Adam Blacker

VP, Insights