Apple rolled out iOS 14.5 on Monday, and free-for-all use of the IDFA tracker is officially gone. But most media buyers are still waiting to see how the change will impact business.
“There hasn’t been a measurable impact yet, since the effects of this change will be based on the update cadence of iOS users,” said Ben Hovaness, SVP of marketplace intelligence at Omnicom Media Group North America. “Understanding that the typical consumer doesn’t necessarily update the moment a new iOS release drops, we’re expecting a graduated effect over the coming weeks.”
The update, which requires iPhone users to opt-in to tracking by advertisers, flips the industry’s previous opt-out model on its head, complicating media buying strategies and putting pressure on companies that rely on third-party data to run their business. The change, which is a push toward protecting consumer privacy online, has caused a stir in the industry, leading some brands and advertisers to try to circumvent the changes.
But the true impact of Apple’s decision on advertisers remains to be seen.
Until a “more reliable picture” of the impact on performance emerges, OMG is tracking the rollout of the update and “analyzing performance data to inform our adaptive solutions,” Hovaness said.
While they brace for impact, agencies and holding companies are well on their way towards creating first-party data solutions and pushing privacy-first initiatives front and center.
“While we’ve been preparing for this shift with our clients for several months, we have yet to know the rate at which users will opt-in when prompted across apps like Facebook,” said David Mataranglo, US CEO at Reprise. “Across our social media investments that occur primarily within apps, we’ve established performance benchmarks, measured the contribution from iOS and will be tracking the size of targetable audiences.”
He also expects the industry to develop measurement APIs that comply with AppTrackingTransparency, Apple’s framework for privacy-safe attribution.
Some agencies are looking for the silver lining. Liz Rutgersson, chief media officer at CXM Americas at Merkle, is helping advertisers capture and deploy more first-party data to continue creating personalized campaigns.
“We anticipate the advertisers who have invested in building their first party data to fare well in this change, as with other privacy related changes in our industry,” she said.
Over time, the loss of IDFA will reveal who was prepared who wasn’t.
“Advertisers will start to see a decrease in the ability to attribute app install campaigns with the same level of granularity as existed previously,” Rutgersson said. “The impact on those who have not spent time preparing for this change will come to light over time.”