Good news is that advertisers are unlikely to need to reduce overall mobile advertising spending because mobile apps are where users spend the majority of their digital time. In-app inventory will remain a vital channel for marketers to interact with high-profile viewers across all demographics.
However, some major changes are underway.
Here’s the background to that. Last summer, Apple revealed a number of upcoming privacy updates for iOS-based applications, including a user consent requirement for Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) set. IDFA is a special, random identifier assigned to each Apple mobile device that advertisers may use to target advertisements and calculate device-level effectiveness; this is the long-standing way in which advertisers have assessed their mobile ads.
Apple’s latest user permission requirement will shift the usage of IDFA apps from default to opt-in, ensuring that users will get a prompt from any app that uses IDFA to request approval for tracking. This is classified as transparency monitoring app (ATT). After an initial delay, Apple announced that the move would come into effect in the early spring of 2021.
Asking mobile app users to opt-in directly to data collection is a major shift for the mobile ecosystem. But if the in-app is part of the promotional campaign, it’s not time to panic or cut spending.
Steph Lee, Senior Manager of Partner Performance at Activision Blizzard, summarizes: “There is no question that the improvements in Apple’s privacy will cause a significant shift in the industry, but publishers who are dedicated to making great games will be successful. If the audience continues to expand and remain active, marketers will want to be part of these premium channels where they have access to quality content, brand-safe environments and target consumers.”
There are five things advertisers need to know today that they will continue to target mobile in-app viewers successfully.
1. IDFA is not going to leave
There’s been a lot of talk in the industry about “the post-IDFA era,” but that’s not the right way to think about what’s coming.
First, no one knows what the true impact of the opt-in prompt will be; mobile app publishers are a smart and inventive community, and they will test, iterate and refine their app prompts to help users understand the value exchange of this data.
Second, bear in mind that these updates only have an effect on Apple devices. Android systems use the same Google Advertising ID for monitoring, and there’s no improvement in tracking and measuring in the Android environment at this time. That’s essential because Android controls market share globally. At MoPub, we saw that about 60 percent of the advertising opportunities on our site came from Android devices in January 2021.
2. In-app is visible and observable
In-app inventory is inherently viewable, and there is no “behind the fold” for mobile apps; there is usually only one ad available to the consumer at a time. In addition, the Open Measurement SDK (OM SDK) of the IAB Tech Lab provides openness to marketers by allowing third-party structured viewability and verification measurement for mobile in-apps. These are critical considerations to consider, and marketers should hold them at the forefront of their minds, ensuring that their purchasing partners collaborate with supply channels that promote industry viewability measurement requirements.
3. Contextual advertisement is an important tool in the app world.
Contextual advertisement, which is focused on a user’s current visit to app content and does not involve the compilation or preservation of their online activities over time, enables advertisers to exploit specific signals in the IDFA-less part of the app world.
For example, each app is categorized and structured, and there are correlations between app store categories and demographic attributes. Advertisers searching for even more granularity should concentrate on subcategories such as strategy games, which is one of the 16 subcategories of gaming. Other contextual signals include app overview, company headquarters location, average star rating, active daily users and more.
4. Buying partners can help curate inventory packages customized to marketing objectives.
App Store rankings, ratings and other data points provide a wealth of information that marketers can use to target apps with specific criteria through customized IDs or inventory packages. Working with purchasing partners to search for exclusive supply packages is a powerful way to tap into top applications as classified by in-app sales.
It’s also a pathway to age-based apps, gender-based apps and consumer regions—and leading categories such as entertainment, sports, news, and lifestyle. Curated inventory packages help to make contextual purchases conveniently scalable.
5. DSPs are key to the use of SKAdNetwork
SKAdNetwork is a measurement approach that Apple launched in 2018, enabling mobile app assignment to take place without the availability of user-level data. As for SKAdNetwork—SK stands for StoreKit, which is the way app developers communicate with the App Store, so StoreKit Ad Network is the concept.
Especially for performance advertisers, it is essential to ensure that purchasing partners support SKAdNetwork and view-through assignment (VTA). Significant check box—does the partner authorize advertisers to send signed clicks to the SKAdNetwork API? (Note that DSP purchase partners wishing to provide this information must also register with Apple).
Innovation is the way forward
As everybody in the advertisement and technology industry knows, change is constant. Even, there is almost always a way forward for publishers to efficiently monetize and marketers to reach out to their customers and campaign objectives. If the industry survives GDPR, improvements to the IDFA may thrive.
As Peter Rice, Associate Director of Strategic Campaign Operations at Kepler, points out: “Mobile app space is still an important opportunity for advertisers. Also for those who haven’t yet made a leap to mobile, it’s worth noting that future web browser updates to third-party cookies will bring similar customization improvements to the desktop advertisement environment, which will eventually even set the playing field for mobile.”
When it comes to improvements in Apple’s protection, marketers empowered with awareness of what’s going on can continue to confidently target their customers in mobile apps.