Mobile Ecosystem

Tracking Mobile Ads in a World Without UDID

Becky Doles

2019 Update: HasOffers has rebranded to TUNE! TUNE is the same great technology behind HasOffers, now enhanced with new tools and features for performance advertisers and affiliate networks. Check out our new platform features page, sign up for a free trial, or read the rebrand announcement.

TechCrunch is reporting that Apple has already started rejecting new app submissions that access UDID. We already knew access to UDID would be phased out at some point in the near future. What we didn’t know was that Apple would be implementing the phase out by blocking apps submitted to the store.

Jim Payne of MoPub is quoted in the TechCrunch article as stating, “The UDID is essential for managing the conversion loop.” While Payne is correct in that the major mobile ad networks are currently relying on UDID to track mobile app conversions, that’s not the only way to accurately track mobile ads.

As I mentioned in my previous blog post where I chastised the use of cookie tracking as a form of app install tracking, HasOffers addresses the mobile ad tracking problem quite effectively.

Mobile App Tracking bypasses the need for UDID by using what we call user fingerprinting. By gathering several pieces of anonymous data about a user at the time of an ad click, you can achieve a high degree of accuracy in attributing a mobile app conversion back to that user when they eventually install an app on their iPhone (or Android device). The closer the proximity between engagement with the advertisement and the actual conversion, the higher the degree of accuracy, but even if the events aren’t closely connected, you can still track the transaction.

The result is a mobile ad tracking solutions that allows advertisers to manage their mobile ad campaigns with a high degree of confidence using this anonymous fingerprinting solution.

While the TechCrunch article goes on to point out that some developers are getting around the issue of Apple blocking access to UDID by asking user permission, I don’t see that as a viable long term solution. The number of people who will elect to opt in to providing UDID will be significantly less than the total number of people who download and install an app, which will creative a significant gap in the ability for advertisers to effectively track campaigns.

I would anticipate HasOffers seeing more competition from companies who attempt to develop competing alternatives to Mobile App Tracking, rather than continuing to see ongoing usage of UDID as a means of tracking in the long term.

The bigger question is, how quickly will developers move to implement tracking solutions that avoid the UDID issue altogether?

Becky Doles

Becky is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at TUNE. Before TUNE, she led a variety of marketing and communications projects at San Francisco startups. Becky received her bachelor's degree in English from Wake Forest University. After living nearly a decade in San Francisco and Seattle, she has returned to her home of Charleston, SC, where you can find her enjoying the sun and salt water with her family.