Sep 29th 2021

The Complete Guide to iOS 14+ User Privacy and Ad Targeting in the Post-IDFA World

Everything mobile marketers need to know to navigate life after iOS 14.5+

The increasing public demand for user privacy has created a new paradigm for the way advertisers collect information on mobile devices. First came legislation like GDPR, and now Apple is making their own stand with the implementation of several key features in iOS 14 and beyond. Mobile marketers need to understand how these changes impact existing workflows so they can adjust their approach to user acquisition, install attribution, and campaign design. Read on to learn more about the iOS 14+ privacy changes that will impact mobile marketing the most.

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iOS 14 privacy features
What is Limit Ad Tracking?
What is App Tracking Transparency?
What is SKAdNetwork?
What is contextual app targeting?
What is probabilistic attribution?
What is SKOverlay?
Your iOS 14 advertising partner

iOS 14 privacy features

What is Limit Ad Tracking?

Limit Ad Tracking is a feature that lets users opt out of IDFA collection, effectively rendering their device anonymous. With LAT in effect, advertisers can’t connect a specific device to a specific user and therefore can’t target ads based on their behavior. Ad tech companies can still collect some data, but their scope is limited to contextual data points like the OS version of the device in use, the version of the app, the category of the app, and so on. Developers are allowed to collect user data from other sources, however, such as their own website. LAT applies solely to interactions within the app itself. LAT isn’t a new feature. Previously, it was a setting many users had no idea even existed.

Want to learn more? Read our full blog post on What Is Limit Ad Tracking (LAT) and How Does It Affect Mobile Marketing?.

What is App Tracking Transparency?

App Tracking Transparency is a privacy feature first released in iOS 14.5 that requires an app to ask the user’s permission to track their activity across other apps and websites. Developers can ask the user’s permission to track data from their app, but only after explaining how that data is going to be used. The App Tracking Transparency prompt can appear at any point in the app experience, but can’t incentivize users to opt into tracking by rewarding them with in-game currency or walling off content. Apple has created firm guidelines for the language developers must use when explaining the purpose of collecting users’ data to ensure that consumers have a consistent ATT experience across apps. Usage categories include Analytics, Product Personalization, and Third-Party Advertising, among others.

For more information, read our in-depth post, What Is App Tracking Transparency (ATT) and How Does It Affect Mobile Marketing?.

What is SKAdNetwork?

SKAdNetwork is Apple’s privacy-focused alternative to traditional campaign measurement and install attribution. With the enforcement of LAT and ATT, SKAdNetwork is Apple’s intended way for advertisers to attribute installs to the originating campaigns for users who don’t opt in. Apple scrubs the data for any information that could prevent it from being anonymous, before passing the data along to ad networks. Advertisers don’t have direct access to the aggregated info, making it difficult to adjust campaigns in real time. SKAdNetwork isn’t new to iOS, having been introduced in 2018, and was originally positioned as an alternative to traditional ad attribution methods.

For a better understanding of how this may impact you, read What Is SKAdNetwork and How Does It Impact Mobile Marketing?.

What is contextual app targeting?

Contextual app targeting is the use of app metadata, device information, or other contextual signals to target a mobile user, typically for advertising purposes, in cases where a device identifier isn’t available. Contextual app targeting follows the same principles as contextual advertising, a practice that’s been in use since the early days of the internet. Contextual advertising targets ads based on the content of a website, such as specific keywords, images, or a general topic. The ad runs if the site matches the parameters set by the advertiser. Contextual app targeting does something similar by drawing from a different set of data points. Rather than using keywords, contextual app targeting takes its cues from app and device data such as an app store’s app category, keyboard language, hardware version, and completion rate.

Read more about What Is Contextual Ad Targeting?.

What is probabilistic attribution?

Probabilistic attribution is the process of assigning campaign membership probabilities to an acquired user based on the attributes and behavior of that user. Deterministic attribution can match an install or action directly to a campaign but uses identifiers that marketers no longer have access to unless users allow it. Probabilistic attribution connects user behavior to one or more campaigns. It combines data sets from anonymous user-level events, SKAdNetwork postbacks with campaign IDs, and ad network reporting data like impressions to arrive at a likelihood that a particular install was driven by a campaign. Probabilistic attribution can never be 100% accurate but still provides valuable insights.

Read more about What Is Probabilistic Attribution? (And Every Other iOS 14 Question You Were Afraid to Ask).

What is SKOverlay?

SKOverlay is a StoreKit class that gives developers an easier way to recommend apps to their users. Developers can present a banner-sized overlay that displays another app’s icon, name, and brief description. It’s a presentation that doesn’t interrupt the user experience in part because of its aesthetic resemblance to App Store entries and in part because it’s a banner, as opposed to a full-screen takeover. When used strategically, SKOverlay can be a key component of campaigns.

Read more about What Is SKOverlay?.

Your iOS 14 advertising partner

Navigating a post-IDFA marketing landscape can be challenging, but Vungle can help. Thanks to GameRefinery by Vungle, advertisers are able to leverage app-specific contextual targeting criteria not available anywhere else, use that information to predict future value, and optimize user acquisition campaigns. Our combination of Vungle’s Ad Intelligence and automated bid management makes Vungle the perfect growth partner for the post-IDFA landscape.

Contact us to learn more about how Vungle can help guide you through the demands of the privacy-focused digital advertising space.

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