The big privacy push that Apple began last fall, then was delayed until spring, is finally at hand. With the upcoming release of iOS 14.5, Apple will start enforcing the AppTrackingTransparency framework and requiring mobile app users to opt-in to tracking before advertisers will get access to their IDFA. That’s the change in a nutshell, but let’s unpack what that means for the partner marketing industry.
What We Know
1. Apple iOS 14.5 will require users to opt-in before sharing their IDFA with advertisers.
2. SKAdNetwork is Apple’s mobile app attribution solution.
- Big walled-garden ad networks have integrated with SKAdNetwork:
3. Apple stated in their most recent FAQ that they will not allow fingerprinting without an opt-in.
4. MMPs are taking various stances on these changes, with AppsFlyer leading the way:
- AppsFlyer created Advanced Privacy Mode to address fingerprinting concerns in a privacy-friendly way.
- Adjust was acquired by AppLovin, so they have been quiet on the innovation front.
- Branch and Kochava are stating that only opted-in users can be attributed.
- Singular is going all-in on SKAdNetwork, but they do believe fingerprinting can be done under certain circumstances.
5. Apple has separately introduced Private Click Measurement as a new privacy-friendly web standard for measuring clicks and conversions.
What We Don’t Know
1. How many mobile advertisers will adopt SKAdNetwork:
- It is non-trivial to implement SKAdNetwork in mobile apps, and it places an extra burden for launching campaigns.
- Advertisers may decide to shift focus to mobile web instead.
2. How Apple will update SKAdNetwork in response to industry feedback.
3. How strictly Apple will enforce their “no fingerprinting” stance in iOS 14.5 and beyond.
- Will AppsFlyer’s solution be acceptable to Apple?
4. Whether browsers other than Safari will adopt Private Click Measurement and make it a true web standard.
Summing It All Up
2021 is going to be a bumpy year for advertisers, networks, and publishers alike. But keep in mind that partner marketing is not the primary target of these iOS 14.5 changes by Apple: it’s Facebook and Google.
On the contrary, partner marketing has been more privacy-friendly from the beginning. Our industry is based on relationships between advertisers and publishers, not massive lookalike audiences built on cookie profiling and personal data. That’s really the difference between adtech and martech when you break it down: adtech requires information about the end user in order to serve relevant advertising, and martech doesn’t.
That’s why, despite the upheaval from industry giants and platform providers, I’m as bullish as ever on the future of partner marketing. TUNE has enabled privacy-friendly attribution from the beginning with tools such as our Server Postback with Partner ID protocol. This allows us to track what matters, how many conversions each partner sent to each advertiser, without identifying the end user at all.
For mobile advertisers facing the enforcement of iOS 14.5, the biggest thing to do right now is take stock of the places you are running traffic and decide if you will need to implement SKAdNetwork. If you are spending on Facebook, Google, Snapchat, or the other big walled-garden ad networks, you will likely want to implement it. But if you are focused more on partner marketing and smaller channels, you can wait and see how it plays out.
Publishers, influencers, content creators, and partners of all types need to make money in order to continue providing free content on the internet. And advertisers need to get their products in front of people who may be interested in them. In 2021 and beyond, partner marketing remains one of the most cost-effective and privacy-friendly ways to do that, fueling the modern web and helping to keep the internet free.
Questions about iOS 14.5 or partner marketing? Contact us to learn more.
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Josh Todd, TUNE's VP of Product, is an innovative product management leader with 12 years of experience in the partner marketing industry. Prior to TUNE, Josh ran an early mobile-focused affiliate network, wrote a marketing blog, and generated thousands of leads for advertisers via targeted media buys.