Last week it became known that Apple is “blocking the oxygen” of IDFA. Users in iOS will be able to block the transfer of information about themselves to advertising companies by clicking. We asked Adjust, AdQuantum and Digital Turbine how much this will affect the UA market.


But first, let’s remind you what IDFA is and why it is needed.

The abbreviation stands for: The Identifier for Advertisers. This is the device ID for advertisers. It is used to track and identify users. This allows marketing companies to show users the right advertising, and traffic buyers to offer the right audience.

With the release of iOS 14, each application with an identifier will ask the user if he is ready to share personal data with third-party applications. This raises the fear that most users will not go for it.

Therefore, after the announcement of the innovation, many had concerns that it would lead to a major change in the UA market. Whether this is the case, we asked marketing companies.

1. How many users will refuse such a thing?

Paul Müller, Co-founder and CTO Adjust

To be honest, it’s hard to predict right now how many users will continue to share data with app developers.

In general, the changes that Apple is now introducing for iOS 14 largely coincide with the values of Adjust. As a data provider that complies with GDPR and CCPA requirements, we use IDFA only within one application. We never transfer device IDs from one publisher to another.

When it comes to stories like “Your data will be used to display the most personalized advertising,” we prefer to stay away.

All these restrictions have never caused problems, because part of our mission is to protect user data from abuse and misuse.

Alexander Dyudyuk — Sales Director — Digital Turbine

I think most users will refuse unless there is a clear incentive to agree. What kind of incentive it may be, we will see in the near future, if such a path is chosen by the industry at all.

Konstantin Ivanov — Brand Manager – AdQuantum

Speaking for everyone is a stupid thing to do. On the one hand, people do not like when their personal data is used, on the other hand, millions of players urgently click “Accept” to get access to the coveted application.

Is it worth waiting for a decrease in the IDFA received after the release of iOS 14? Yes, it’s worth it. How many percent? It’s harder to predict.

In addition, the number of LAT installations from Facebook currently ranges from 10% to 15% of the total volume. This shows that some knowledgeable users are already actively using this option. Similar statistics can be expected after the opportunity to turn off IDFA. It is important that it will work by default.

2. Will developers be able to work around this? For example, refuse to launch an application without IDFA approval? And is it worth waiting for Apple’s retaliatory measures in this case?

Paul Müller, Co-founder and CTO Adjust

We are still waiting for clarity from Apple. Now we assume 4 scenarios that can work for attribution and, more broadly, the advertising industry.

  • iOS Referrer by analogy with Google PlayStore Referrer. There is an approach that will simultaneously preserve data privacy and meet the needs of advertisers: create a new API similar to Apple’s Search Ads SDK or Google PlayStore Referrer. Today’s attribution logic will not change much, plus this solution will allow mobile analytics platforms, advertising networks and customers to continue to interact effectively.
  • Tracking “fingerprints” (fingerprinting). Advertising networks can still send clicks to mobile marketing partners, who, in turn, can attribute, send callbacks and display data for advertisers. In fact, not much will change in comparison with data transmission today, except that developers will rely more on digital “fingerprints”. However, we do not believe that this is the optimal solution, and we are already looking for how to make fingerprinting as accurate as possible in such scenarios.
  • Mandatory or reasoned consent. For example, during discussions with developers and advertisers, we will be able to come up with an option in which we will necessarily request or motivate the user to consent to the collection of IDFA. Imagine a free game that is monetized through advertising. Without IDFA, it will be difficult, and the publisher will have to offer players a choice to buy a version without ads or give access to IDFA.
  • More detailed tracking permissions with attribution as an exception. We believe that ensuring the effectiveness of advertising and tracking users in different applications and on different sites are two different things. Apple has already provided several exceptions for obtaining IDFA without user involvement, so there may be a solution that provides attribution in a way that Apple considers appropriate to its privacy beliefs.

Alexander Dyudyuk — Sales Director — Digital Turbine

I don’t think the developers will put such an ultimatum. There should still be ways to solve the problem in a different way.

Konstantin Ivanov — Brand Manager – AdQuantum

At a minimum, it is possible to use fingerprinting instead of IDFA, and its use will noticeably increase in the first months after the release of iOS 14. However, fingerprinting has enough limitations and is not able to fully replace IDFA.

As for Apple’s response to possible fraudulent moves: they are not always swift, but they are always unambiguous, so I do not recommend looking for means of illegally circumventing the new policy. New operating systems are becoming more “secure”, processes are increasingly controlled within the company, there are fewer areas left untouched by corporations within their services.

The developers themselves will benefit from cooperating with Apple and their new SKAdNetwork, getting more high-quality traffic for their application. Apple will “manage” all advertising publishers, knowing them by ID inside its system.

3. What will marketing companies not be able to do without IDFA?

Alexander Dyudyuk — Sales Director — Digital Turbine

In fact, clearly attribute installations to traffic channels. However, MMP’s will still be able to attribute by fingerprinting, although not as accurately.

Konstantin Ivanov — Brand Manager – AdQuantum

Based on IDFA, it is possible to identify an audience and, for example, make a list of users who viewed a certain product but did not make a purchase. This is true for retail applications. IDFA allows you to make retargeting campaigns with carefully configured parameters. IDFA helps UA managers find the most suitable audience for the application.

In addition, fraudsters capable of creating new device identifiers could be exposed by anti-fraud systems — it was enough to remember that the overwhelming number of IDFA is tied to one IDFV (this very device identifier). Without IDFA, it might be more difficult to recognize fraud, but Apple doesn’t just make opt-in and opt-out options, they are developing a new system, SKAdNetwork, which they write about in their blog.

It is worth noting that not everyone is optimistic, the CEO of AppsFlyer in his blog argues that the ecosystem is not ready for such innovations. Now we will have to change the UX of the entire ecom and travel industry. Retargeting and user flow will suffer. It will become more difficult for sources to separate expensive users from cheap ones and there will be a “teleport” to the conditions of 2010.

4. What is the threat to the advertising market as a whole?

Paul Müller, Co-founder and CTO Adjust

It’s too early to say, but market participants will have to adapt to the new environment anyway. Now we know that since the release of iOS 14:

  • IDFA does not disappear completely, it will require user consent to work.
  • If users refuse IDFA, then SKAdnetwork will provide basic information about the user.
  • “Fingerprinting” will remain a working option for mobile attribution.

But at the same time we don’t know yet:

  • Will SKAdNetwork be able to provide enough detailed data to make informed decisions?
  • How effective is deep linking using SKAdNetwork?
  • How will fraud protection work in these new conditions?
  • How many users will agree to tracking?

At the moment there is no single standard solution on the market. And, consequently, there is no finished product that can offer the same level of accuracy and transparency that the industry has relied on in recent years.

Alexander Dyudyuk — Sales Director — Digital Turbine

In fact, few people know for sure. Did MMPs and marketers know in advance about the rumors about IDFA neutralization? Yes, it has been known for a long time. But few people imagined that Apple would do it so quickly.

I think that this may lead to some kind of chaos in the short term. I am almost sure that, as always, alternatives will be found: “Apple is too big for not to be accountable.”

Konstantin Ivanov — Brand Manager – AdQuantum

By switching to a new system from Apple, hiring employees who will understand this, changing the work of publishers with developers.

It’s worth getting used to the fact that Apple has been closing processes on itself lately. This is also indicated by the sudden termination of third-party cookies in the Safari browser.

Advertisers usually do not cut budgets — they simply move them to those areas that can be objectively analyzed.

Well, “threatens” is not the right word. Apple is trying to create a win-win system that it can manage. Such an approach with opt-in and opt-out IDFA is designed to restore the trust of users, show the transparency of the advertiser-user-Apple relationship and, importantly, give the user an understanding of the benefits derived from the use of their personal data.

It is not profitable for Apple to lose traffic, and developers and publishers of advertising need to learn new conditions. When iOS 13 was released, the market was worried that it would become impossible to work with subscriptions, because now they can be disabled. So what? Everyone is alive and making great money.

When Google introduced universal campaigns, marketers did not understand into which “black box” they throw their budgets and whether they get an equivalent effect from this. Now the situation has become more stable. It will be the same here — don’t panic.

5. How will the introduced measure affect application developers? Will this affect their advertising budgets and opportunities?

Paul Müller, Co-founder and CTO Adjust

It’s too early to say how the changes in iOS 14 will affect budgets. Nevertheless, together with our clients and partners, we will use every opportunity to better understand this.

It should be borne in mind that the changes that were indicated at WWDC affect not only attribution. Our entire ecosystem needs to figure out how best to work in the new environment. App publishers, big and small, will have to rebuild their businesses. Only with careful study of the new rules and cooperation can we be sure that the industry will be able to adapt and accept the new conditions.

Alexander Dyudyuk — Sales Director — Digital Turbine

I’m not sure that this will have a big impact on current budgets. iOS is still the platform where users pay more. For this reason, developers will still focus on Apple. At the same time, Android is gradually closing the gap with iOS in terms of revenue, although they still have a long way to go.

I think that Android budgets will increase, but I don’t expect sharp jumps.

Konstantin Ivanov — Brand Manager – AdQuantum

There is always a layer of indie developers who react painfully to such changes. I urge them to find a decent publisher who will deal with these problems and generate mutual profits in close tandem.

The rest of the developers will not feel strong shocks, they just need to prepare their applications for integration with the new SKAdNetwork system.

6. Will SKAdNetwork be able to compensate for the measures introduced by Apple?

Paul Müller, Co-founder and CTO Adjust

If we take a closer look at the specifications of SKAdNetwork, it’s hard to imagine that they meet the needs of a modern marketer:

  • According to Apple, only the last redirect before uploading or re-uploading will be attributed. This means that there will be no configurable attribution parameters, tracking of end-to-end views, re-attribution of inactive users or multiple touches.
  • SKStoreProductView as a recommended ad format does not support dynamic or deferred deep linking.
  • No retargeting or exclusionary targeting
  • It is unclear how fraud prevention and any other transparency of data will be ensured.

Currently, SKAdNetwork provides data only to the advertising network. This data is with a very low level of transparency for everyone else.

Alexander Dyudyuk — Sales Director — Digital Turbine

I think for the most part, yes.

Konstantin Ivanov — Brand Manager – AdQuantum

For the most part, he can. In order to work with SKAdNetwork, the advertising network must register. Apple takes control of the process in order to have an even faster response to possible inconsistencies with its own policy.

Not only advertising publishers, but also developers themselves should prepare to work with this network by making changes to applications, showing their readiness to integrate with SKAdNetwork. Those who take these steps will definitely win in the future.