Developers

Debunking iOS 14.5 Myths for Advertisers and Developers

by Claire Tak on May 14, 2021

With the rollout of Apple’s iOS 14.5 now in effect, developers and advertisers alike are transitioning and preparing for privacy changes they will likely face in the future. These changes are based around AppTrackingTransparency (ATT), which introduced a permission-based framework that allows for iOS users to be tracked or opt-out. This will affect visibility into user-level data, which is the cause of concern for developers and advertisers. 

Since the change went into effect fairly recently, it’s too soon to tell exactly to what extent it will impact businesses that develop apps. 

Apple’s announcement last year stirred some speculation around potential workarounds to maintain a pre-iOS 14 environment as well as misinformation around the changes, which is why we’re debunking some misconceptions and myths about iOS 14 privacy changes. 

Myth #1: You can use fingerprinting or other device signals as a “workaround” to continue tracking users at the device level

Debunking this myth: You may have heard this could be a temporary workaround to Apple’s rules because they may not be enforcing it just yet. Despite what you may have heard, this workaround won’t be sustainable. Some advertisers or developers may also believe they don’t need to show the opt-in prompt and continue to track users by way of other identifiers outside of fingerprinting, but this is going against Apple’s rules. 

Those who try to circumvent the rules and use fingerprinting are essentially setting themselves up for potentially getting removed from Apple’s platform. How will these businesses recover if their app is removed by Apple and a majority of their users have iOS devices? 

Apple explicitly calls this out on their FAQ page, which says, “You may not derive data from a device for the purpose of uniquely identifying it. Apps that are found to be engaging in this practice, or that reference SDKs (including but not limited to Ad Networks, Attribution services, and Analytics) that are, may be rejected from the App Store.”

Myth #2: Everyone will see the same CPM and revenue drop across the board based on LAT-enabled tracking volume percentage 

You may have read a few predictions from developers and various articles projecting the impact in revenue between their LAT (limited ad tracking) vs. IDFA traffic. However, it may be too soon to really gain any actual insights from these predictions because the iOS 14.5 rollout is still not fully ramped up. Advertisers are still updating their algorithms and updating their SDKs for accurate tracking and improved performance to deliver high CPM creatives and continue to drive revenue for their partners. 

Also, no waterfall is the same—those without LAT waterfalls, older SDKs, or already sub-optimized waterfalls will see diff pre- and post-LAT impact than others. 

It’s critical that developers follow best practices to ensure they can continue to monetize efficiently. For customers using MAX, we wrote a checklist outlining the best ways to stay prepared. 

Myth #3: You can use email lists to retarget users

Debunking this myth: Apple considers sharing of user emails with ad networks to fall under the umbrella of tracking, which means you have to follow the ATT guidelines. 

In order to go this route, users need to explicitly approve this as well. The app opt-in for emails needs to convey that users’ email addresses will be used for the purposes of retargeting them with ads or creating lookalike audiences.

Myth #4: IDFA will negatively impact in-app bidding

The idea is that if advertisers have limited information about targeting people without IDFAs, then the advantages of in-app bidding are minimized since they’ll only be able to buy ads using historical campaign performance data. 

Debunking this myth: The reality is that in-app bidding, like other aspects of tracking users and optimizing campaign performance on a granular level, will be impacted, but it won’t suddenly go away. Bidding is designed to allow for fair and transparent access to inventory for demand partners to compete for driving the highest possible outcome for each impression.

Myth #5: You can test your creatives on Android first and then transfer the findings to iOS 

Debunking this myth: Creative assets in Android vs iOS are different. The best-performing Android creatives won’t be the same as iOS because of the differences in the hardware landscape and users. 

Quick tips to help you navigate through iOS 14.5+

1. Leverage your MMP

You can continue to work with your MMP to understand what types of performance data will be available and what you need to change in your integration to ensure you are set up for success. Each MMP has a different advertising and monetization setup to give you a good understanding of user-level data to help you succeed.

2. Perfect your opt-in messaging and design 

Refine and test your opt-in message to users when asking them if they want to be tracked. Think through the colors and design of your message. From your tests, if you notice opt-in rates are low, go back to your messaging and design. 

Some MMPs also provide a tested template within their SDKs so you can get the best opt-in rate. MAX customers can take advantage of the built-in consent flow to help you communicate consent values to network partners and monetize effectively on iOS 14.5+. 

Quick tip: This comprehensive blog post from Adjust explains what it takes to improve opt-in rates, as well as what to avoid. 

3. Re-think how you analyze your creatives

Creatives may become a competitive advantage for companies. Each campaign has a certain amount of ad sets—targeting and bids. Those ad sets are broken into creatives and through that, you can see what kinds of creatives perform well with that target. Use your creatives to gain a better understanding of how a certain target set is responding. 

Bottom line

The privacy landscape as a whole is changing and the changes from iOS 14 and the full impact for advertisers and developers remain to be seen. That’s why it’s important to stay prepared and follow Apple’s framework. 

Adapting to this new normal while ensuring users still have the best experience should be at the forefront in order for businesses to continue growing.

Claire Tak is Marketing Manager, Content at AppLovin.