Mobile Growth

App Tracking Transparency & iOS 14.5. How to deal with app acquisition in post IDFA world?

Many app owners expect the IDFA opt-in to have an impact on mobile attribution and paid advertising efforts. What does the industry need to do to change direction and mitigate potential disruptions to mobile attribution? In this post, we will go over the privacy updates in iOS 14 you need to know about.

After Apple announced iOS 14 at WWDC 2020 the mobile ecosystem, developers and advertisers felt a real revolution was coming. Along with a range of UI updates, the new requirement for IDFA opt-in by Apple iPhone and iPad device users took center stage. 

Many app owners expect the IDFA opt-in to have an impact on mobile attribution and paid advertising efforts. What does the industry need to do to change direction and mitigate potential disruptions to mobile attribution? In this post, we will go over the privacy updates in iOS 14 you need to know about. We’ll also give you tips on how to acquire users in the post IDFA world.

What are the IDFA and App Tracking Transparency?


The Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) is a key identifier for mobile and app owners, assigned to devices at random by Apple to allow app owners to track their paid campaigns and deliver personalized advertising. The IDFA stores user’s personal information, a privacy measure that still allows for integral data to be extracted on users such as the channel they have been acquired from or certain user behaviors tracked via in-app events. Users can turn off tracking through their settings via ‘limited ad tracking’ but this function is deep within the settings of the device and often goes amiss. iOS 14 will completely change all of that. 


With iOS 14, app owners will need to:


  • Gain app-specific permission from users in order to use the IDFA for tracking
  • Ensure your App Store product will feature a tailored breakdown of your self-reported privacy practices
  • Provide a link to your privacy policy on your App Store page


App Tracking Opt-in Rate after iOS 14.5 launch


Until now, apps have been able to rely on Apple’s Identifier for Advertiser (IDFA) to track users for targeting and advertising purposes. With the launch of iOS 14.5 last week, mobile apps now have to ask users who have upgraded to iOS 14.5 for permission to gather tracking data. With opt-in rates expected to be extremely low, this change is expected to create challenges for personalized advertising and attribution, impacting the $189 billion mobile ad industry worldwide.

Below you can see the percentage of mobile app users who opt-in for app tracking.



Only 11% of app users worldwide turned on app tracking.  



In the US opt-in rate look even worse - 4% of users agreed to be tracked. 


How Limited Ad tracking will affect mobile user acquisition?


In such a radically evolving app ecosystem, consultation and holistic data-enabled insights are more critical than ever for sustained success.

What is more important - Organic methods of acquisition now will be more important than ever before. App Store Optimization in the post IDFA world will be playing a huge role in mobile user acquisition. 


ASO benefits in post IDFA:


  • ASO is the leading app discovery channel
  • ASO users have higher LTV
  • Data from ASO can be used in Performance Acquisition with no opt-in. 
  • The Apple Search Ads (ASA) “exemption” and opportunities to leverage ASO



Regarding all the above, companies should consider spending more on organic acquisitions such as ASO and combine it with Apple Search Ads to boost acquisition. What makes Apple Search Ads particularly interesting is that, given Apple’s own control over the network, ASAs were granted an exemption to the rule of collecting users’ consent before accessing their IDFA. Instead, users who want to opt-out of Apple Ads tracking have to do so manually in their device settings. Otherwise, their IDFA might be collected when they come across an Apple Search Ads campaign or other Apple Ads inventory. As a result, marketers have started considering giving priority to ASA over other networks when ATT gets rolled out, at least until more is known about the efficiency of ad targeting in other networks having to rely on SKAdNetwork for attribution.


This is where ASO can give an edge to those investing in this particular advertising channel. UA managers unfamiliar with Apple Search Ads should consider turning to their ASO team for pointers and useful resources. Remember that keyword volumes on iOS are overwhelmingly calculated based on the popularity score provided by Apple Search Ads, and your ASO team probably has an entire history of targeting many different keywords.


If you don’t have an ASO team, then it’s highly recommended to start doing it because as you see, it can be really helpful in the Limited Ad Tracking world.


To conclude, remember that while ASO cannot be a silver bullet to solve all the challenges brought by the ATT framework, it can still add value to your entire acquisition funnel. As advertisers are going to learn to be less reliant on ad-targeting algorithms, leveraging ASO for both performance and to better understand user behaviors will become a competitive advantage for some apps.


If you would like to know more about how ASO can help your acquisition team after LAT is launched, our experts are ready to answer all your questions.


Book a free consultation with our growth expert

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