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Apple’s IDFA gift: More time to prepare for SKAdNetwork (so don’t waste it!)

By Gadi Eliashiv September 3, 2020

As the whole mobile marketing world has heard by now, Apple is delaying the implementation of some of the privacy measures in iOS 14. And we’ve also confirmed: the IDFA is available in iOS 14 beta 7.

This is great news.

While we were the first to support SKAdNetwork officially and openly advocate for it, the reality is that a huge percentage of mobile publishers and marketers are just not ready yet. And as we just saw from Facebook, the consequences of the shift to per-app opt-in for IDFA were monumental.

So getting more time to prepare is valuable.

But make no mistake: Apple is 100% committed to privacy. Here’s the company’s announcement with the details of the delay (emphasis added):

“Apps will be required to receive user permission to track users across apps or websites owned by other companies, or to access the device’s advertising identifier. We are committed to ensuring users can choose whether or not they allow an app to track them. To give developers time to make necessary changes, apps will be required to obtain permission to track users starting early next year. More information, including an update to the App Store Review Guidelines, will follow this fall.”

Given that reality, we remain committed to SKAdnetwork. But mobile marketers in general and our customers specifically should know that this is not just because it’s about to become the only game in town and there are no alternatives. As we continue to build out our Singular SKAdnetwork solution, we are more and more convinced that mobile marketers can effectively grow and optimize marketing campaigns at scale with SKAdNetwork.

We’re talking ROAS. We’re talking predictive LTV. We’re talking all the goodies that you need to know how your marketing is performing. Minus, of course, granularity on individuals and creatives.

Our message to the market right now is clear: get ready.

Use this time to prepare.

SKAdNetwork is still coming. IDFA is still (mostly) going away. You now have perhaps a five-month gift from Apple, and the question is: how are you going to use it? Our recommendation is that you implement (we can help). That you test (we can also help with that). You can test IDFA opt-in. You can test ROAS measurement. You can test LTV and predictive LTV measurement to guide marketing investments. You can test cohorts, and different ways of using the six bits of post-install conversion data SKAdNetwork delivers.

Here’s the best part: now you can run SKAdNetwork tests side-by-side with iOS13-style attribution and marketing measurement.

I honestly cannot emphasize enough how important it is that you get on this train immediately to enable side-by-side testing.

In Apple’s original timeline, you would have had historical data and iOS 14 data, maybe with some messy mixture of not-yet-upgraded-to-iOS-14 data. You would not have had the ability to play around with SKAdNetwork measurement and compare accuracy. You would not have had the ability to change your SKAdNetwork post-install conversion strategy and compare that with traditional IDFA-available measurement.

Here’s the danger: if you don’t jump on this train today, you still won’t have that ability. And that means that when SKAdNetwork does get fully implemented and Apple does completely enforce all the planned privacy measures for iOS 14, you will be flying blind.

The opportunity now is to plan, implement, test, and optimize so that when the new reality hits, you already have the confidence that you can still do mobile user acquisition at scale profitably. You’ll know that you can trust your SKAdNetwork-based marketing measurement models. You’ll know that they’ve been stress-tested.

Singular will work with each of our clients on testing IDFA-based marketing measurement versus SKAdNetwork marketing measurement over the next five months so that you’re certain you have the data and insights you need to enable mobile growth.

We’re working with partners on standardization of SKAdNetwork terms and methodology. We’re serving the ecosystem to help everyone prepare. This delay gives us more time to provide you and other marketers with the full support that you may need, and to help you make sure that you are 100% ready to go. Ultimately, when you deploy a new app, framework, or tool, you want to do it gradually and not all at once. That’s the responsible thing, and Apple gave us the chance to do it the right way.

Now is your opportunity to take advantage of that time … to dot all your I’s and cross all your T’s.

One other note: there are not a lot of details in Apple’s announcement. Even though IDFA is available without consent in iOS 14 Beta 7, the announcement doesn’t say explicitly that the IDFA will remain available without consent, or that fingerprinting is still allowed.

So apply a bit of caution. This is not a business-as-usual announcement. This is a ready-set not-quite-go. But the “go” is coming soon.

If you’re wondering how to tackle iOS 14, SKAdNetwork, and how to minimize the messiness of this transition, you can get more details here. Plus, we’d love to chat with you. I would be happy to connect with you personally, and you should also join our Mobile Attribution Privacy group on Slack, where we discuss all these changes.

You’ll find me on that Slack channel!

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