Apple Introduces Ability to Reset Advertising Identifier with iOS 6.1 Update

Becky Doles

Earlier this week, Apple released a new software update for iOS devices, iOS 6.1. The update features 4G LTE support for 36 additional iPhone carriers and 23 more for the iPad, as well as a feature that enables U.S. users to purchase movie tickets through Fandango via Apple’s voice-assistant Siri. iTunes Match subscribers can now also download individual songs to iOS devices from iCloud.

The most interesting new feature in the iOS 6.1 update is a new ability for users to now reset their iOS device’s Advertising Identifier. Apple’s Identifier for Advertising (IFA or IDFA) was introduced with the iOS 6 update, and replaced Unique Device Identifiers (UDID). With the iOS 6.1. update, users can reset the IDFA by navigating to the Advertising settings.

The implications for this may seem somewhat dire for mobile advertisers. Offers that are reliant on IDFA for tracking may be disrupted by users resetting their ID, but we’ve seen this before in the world of cookie tracking as any user can clear their cookies at any time. While the option to reset the Advertising Identifier is located in the phone settings, this ensures only those users who really want to reset the identifier can. It is unlikely that all but a very small percentage of iOS users will reset using the Reset Advertising Identifier button.

For users who do know about the setting, this new feature could actually help provide more targeted advertising for each user over time. While many have touted the “reset” feature as a way to prevent users from continuing to see ads, resetting the ID will only wipe away any past contextual behavior they might have had. As a result, advertisers will have to start over in learning what that user might be interested in, forcing advertisers to develop better campaigns that are more relevant to users.

And while IDFA continues to gain ground in MobileAppTracking, it does not yet dominate mobile attribution. We do hope Apple will continue to develop the identifier to make it easier for advertisers and publishers to work with each other, but regardless of Apple’s efforts, there is infrastructure that is still needed to make the migration to IDFA. Because there are still so many publisher SDKs that use other identifiers, advertisers can’t immediately make the switch to IDFA.

If you’re an advertiser, what are your thoughts about the new option for iOS users to reset their Advertising Identifier? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Becky Doles

Becky is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at TUNE. Before TUNE, she handled content strategy and marketing communications at several tech startups in the Bay Area. Becky received her bachelor's degree in English from Wake Forest University. After a decade in San Francisco and Seattle, she has returned home to Charleston, SC, where you can find her strolling through Hampton Park with her pup and enjoying the simple things between adventures with friends and family.

2 responses to “Apple Introduces Ability to Reset Advertising Identifier with iOS 6.1 Update”

  1. Dmitriy says:

    Quick interesting point: You can already identify a machine pretty uniquely from non-cookie data — monitor resolutions, plugins installed, etc. I can easily conceive a system which can statistically re-match a user post an advertising id reset from their old id, to their new one. Each app can also read the id, remember it, and when it changes simply tell the server of the change. This, while not being easy math, is similar to how people did a reverse history lookup when netflix data was released for the competition.

  2. Roger says:

    So, not planning to respect the intent or wishes of users then Dmitriy? Quelle surprise…

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