Understanding IDFA changes: 5 things to know

Posted on Wednesday 05 May 2021 | IAB UK

How should you be navigating Apple’s IDFA shift? Read the key take outs from our webinar with Mindshare, Adjust and Shpock

With Apple’s iOS 14.5 now live, in-app advertisers have to gain people’s permission to use the IDFA identifier at an app level. These are the unique identifiers that allow brands to track and anonymously identify users within the app environment - allowing them to serve relevant advertising and effectively fund the free-to-use app ecosystem. Apple’s changes are a seismic shift for advertisers in the in-app space, with the effects already filtering through the supply chain. It’s therefore essential that digital advertisers understand what the changes mean in practice and how best to navigate them. 

To this end, we brought together IAB UK members at a webinar to provide advice and tools for ensuring the continued success of in-app advertising. With speakers including Mindshare’s Daniel Sichel, Adjust’s Jack Matterson, Shpock’s Jon Hatfield and our Head of Ad Tech Tina Lakhani, here are the key things to take away from the discussion: 

1. Collaboration at an industry level is essential 

If we are to fully understand how to best communicate Apple’s changes with app users and explain the essential value exchange between advertising and free-to-access content, the industry needs to be talking. As Sichel put it, “the shift really needs to be in information sharing amongst the industry. How consumers react in different environments is going to be really important”. Lakhani pointed out that different environments are seeing different opt-in rates, with lifestyle apps doing better than others. She agrees that sharing information across sectors is crucial to improve overall understanding of how to best communicate with consumers. 

2. Don’t underestimate the importance of testing

“Never assume anything”, said Hatfield as he urged in-app advertisers to get strategy testing. From the language used to whether you provide consumers with a pre-warning prompt, testing is essential to understanding what works for consumers and how to get the best opt-in rates. Consider the difference between hard and soft language - ‘that’s OK’ vs ‘allow tracking’ - and try to create a seamless consent journey by considering timing, i.e. does the IDFA consent follow on from GDPR messaging.

3. Transparent conversations are the way forward

While it is down to individual brands to decide how much information to impart to consumers, “being able to have a transparent conversation [about the value exchange] is a really good thing”, said Matterson. As he put it, “the success of the app store is down to the freemium model… start to take that away and the knock on effect is that there will be less choice”.  Hatfield added that brands need to decide how deep to get into that conversation with users - giving the example of having to serve twice as many ads for those that don’t allow for tracking -  while Sichel highlighted that the brands that already have trusted relationships with their audiences will see the most success in effectively communicating the value exchange.

4. Non-addressable data does have value

Apple’s changes - in tandem with wider User ID shifts in the digital ad industry - have ignited further conversations about the role of addressable vs non-addressable data. Lakhani stressed that non-addressable inventory still provides access to valuable audiences, with advertisers needing to revisit and evaluate all the various measurement opportunities beyond attribution to measure the effectiveness of a non-addressable approach. On the role of context in the in-app space, Sichel says there is demand for app companies to provide more contextually relevant solutions. Hatfield added that in-app should be no different to the web on this score, with the need to develop more curated audience segments.

5. Don’t wait to see what happens next. Act now.

Taking a proactive approach is vital, said Matterson, with all of the speakers sharing how they’ve been working with clients over the past months to prepare for the IDFA shift. While many have prepared strategies, Lakhani’s insight is that not all parts of the industry are currently taking the opportunity to serve a pre-prompt message to users, a move that could help educate consumers about the value exchange and may in turn boost opt-in rates. As Sichel put it, these changes have “definitely pushed advertisers to evolve to the next step of app engagement” and it's important to be proactively engaging with the advice in order to get ahead. 


If you’re an IAB UK member, you can log in to watch a recording of the webinar here


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