Death to Tracking: Apple Neuters Their Tracking Tool (IDFA) for Advertisers
It’s an industry in revolt and the announcement that Apple is nixing the Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) is just one more loss for outmoded data gathering and a gain for consumers who want to have a say in whether or not they’ll be tracked and how their data is used. Specifically, the IDFA will no longer be included in new releases of iPhones, starting with the iPhone 14. While it won’t be gone entirely, it will be far more likely for users to opt-out. Here’s why.
Apple’s IDFA and the problem with anonymous consumer data
The IDFA is a way for Apple to randomly identify users’ iPhones and then share behavioral data like app usage and web and app tracking, anonymously, with advertisers. Advertisers see the data in aggregate and pull insights from it to then target those devices with ads. Another big part of the IDFA is being able to track ad performance, which is essential for justifying ad spend.
Some would argue that the IDFA method is safer — after all, it is anonymized data and no Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is shared. But consumers are still uncomfortable being tracked, especially when they don’t have a say in what exactly happens to that tracking data. The number of users who had enabled “Limited Ad Tracking” has actually doubled in the last four years. For advertisers, this rise in limiting their ability to track means that they’re missing insights on a growing number of their consumers and unable to target them with ads.
Before this update, the IDFA sort of ran in the background. It was buried in settings and unless consumers knew what they were looking for, they were unlikely to find it and limit its capabilities. But with the release of the iPhone 14, consumers now will have to explicitly opt-in to letting advertisers track their movements. And not just once — every time an app wants to use IDFA, consumers will have to agree to let advertisers “track you across apps and websites owned by other companies.” A more than a little unsettling for most users.
So, what’s next? Zero-party data and the value exchange
This should not be seen as a total loss for advertisers and marketers who, when consumers get wise to the game, will be losing the ability to reach their targeted consumer segments. Instead, it can be seen as an opportunity to move forward on a different path towards clarity of the origins of data and willing consent from consumers.
Consumers are more than willing to share their data when they know they’ll be getting something out of it. This “value exchange” — where consumers offer up data in exchange for something, whether it’s a deal, a discount, a more personalized experience, or a chance for exclusive offers — is a two-way street between brands and consumers and one that helps to create a relationship. The data gathered this way is called zero-party data and is willingly shared by the consumer.
Even better — this exchange of data doesn’t just end after one form fill-out. It’s an ongoing relationship where the consumer offers their preference and psychographic data to continue to have more and more personalized experiences. Brands can shape their profile of the consumer and as the consumer evolves — gets married, starts a family — and their priorities change, a brand can grow their personalized marketing along with the consumer. Imagine campaigns that grow with the consumer, providing exactly what the consumer needs as their life changes before them. That’s what’s possible when we dump these outdated, and frankly problematic, ways of targeting users based on anonymous and/or third-party data.
BYOD: Bring Your Own Data, Advertisers
For advertisers, there is still good news after all. Adopting this method of gathering data and insights directly from consumers gets you a few advantages now that you have to change how you spend and target consumers on mobile advertising. The benefits of this strategy are:
- No sticky permissions issues. You got permission for this data from the consumer. That means you have the right to market to the individual with the info you’ve collected without getting into thorny compliance issues with consumer privacy legislation like the GDPR and CCPA.
- It’s your data “suitcase.” Imagine all of the data you’ve collected personally as being contained within a suitcase. Instead of relying on walled gardens for informing your advertising, you can now carry this “suitcase” of data to these advertisers who have matching capabilities, like Facebook, Google, or major publishers.
- It goes beyond behavioral data. Your segmentation and creative matching is based on explicitly declared data, not deduced inferences based on anonymous behaviors in an app.
- It scales. Marc Pritchard, the man with the world’s largest ad spend at P&G ($7B) said it will grow with you. In fact, in 2019 he shared his strategy out with everyone; anybody can follow it. They have 1.5B consumer records and use it to spend that $7B in walled garden advertising. Pritchard doesn’t have to scramble every time media companies like Apple and Google change something; he leads the industry and creates the future of advertising and marketing.
With these strategies in place, it’s no longer the ad- and cookie-pocalypse. Brands don’t have to be dependent on the whims of outside publishers and media companies. When brands like Apple, Google, or Facebook change things up, you can be ready and armed with your own databases.
Want to see how this relationship between brands and consumers using zero-party data can work? In this campaign book, you’ll see how brands connect with their customers and build their databases.