Why Apple’s iOS 10 “Limit Ad Tracking” option won’t harm mobile marketing

Apple’s latest mobile software update iOS 10 has been officially released to the public. While much has been made about the slew of new features included, for mobile advertisers and publishers iOS 10 also revises the operating system’s advertising tracking functionality, called “Limit Ad Tracking.” The change is designed to make it more difficult to track users, but has also left many marketers uncertain on how their ad campaigns will be impacted.

Fortunately, the change isn’t as dire as it may seem, especially if you’re working with Vungle. Our latest iOS SDK 4.0.9 has been built and optimized for iOS 10 compatibility, you can download it now.

We’ve seen a number of questions come through from both our advertising and publishing partners regarding how Apple’s newest release will affect them. Here’s everything you need to know:

Why are advertisers and publishers concerned about iOS 10?
With iOS 10, users who have opted into the “Limit Ad Tracking” option will now have their unique ID number, known as identifier for advertisers (IDFA) masked as a string of zeros. IDFAs are used by advertisers to target specific groups of iOS users. By masking IDFAs, advertisers are worried this will make it more difficult to track user conversion events via mobiles ads, such views, clicks and installs.

For publishers, they’re concerned that they will receive lower ad revenue due to advertisers not being able to optimally target users with relevant ads, as well as potentially not being able to control how often their users see ads.

What percentage of users enable “Limit Ad Tracking?”
Both, Vungle and third-party attribution providers estimate the number of users across all OS version who have selected the “Limit Ad Tracking” option is between 10-20 percent. Additionally, it’s worth noting that many users who actually enable this functionality are generally the least likely to engage with advertising experiences.

Will Vungle still be able to attribute installs from users who have enabled the “Limit Ad Tracking” option?
Yes, in the majority of cases, third-party attribution providers, such as Tune, Kochava, Adjust and Appsflyer, will utilize device-fingerprinting attribution to attribute installs. This method has already been in use for cases where there is a non-typical IDFA.

It is difficult to estimate the exact impact since iOS 10 has just been released, but it’s likely only a small percentage of iOS installs maybe dropped. We’ve also confirmed with major third-party attribution providers that fingerprinting attribution works accurately.

Will Vungle be able to track post-install actions from users who have enabled the “Limit Ad Tracking” option?
Yes, for users who have completed a post-install event, they will be tracked using an “event ID” rather than IDFA. And we’ve confirmed with major third-party attribution providers that this method works in producing accurate reporting.

What should advertisers do?
If you’re an advertiser, you should double check with your third-party attribution provider that fingerprinting attribution is enabled. Most advertisers already have this turn on, but it’s important to be certain. Also, as with all forms of attribution, advertisers should make sure that all their attribution providers are using the same form (type and timeline) of attribution.

What should publishers do?
If you’re a publisher, you should integrate Vungle’s latest iOS SDK 4.0.9 to maintain your app’s ad frequency settings and ensure you continue to serve the best video ad experiences. You can download Vungle’s new iOS SDK here.

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Vungle's marketing team members have experience in gaming monetization, performance marketing, brand advertising, mobile analytics, app development and SaaS. We're former attorneys, journalists, research analysts, financial advisors and product managers. We are committed to producing content that helps brands and publishers across all verticals and industries grow their mobile businesses.

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