Apple's privacy update delay gives mobile advertisers and app developers more time to prepare

  • Apple announced in June that it would start requiring consent from users before tracking their data.
  • However, it has delayed the rollout of these privacy changes, giving advertisers and developers additional time to prepare.
  • Insider Intelligence analyzes this industry and several others to provide in-depth analyst reports, proprietary forecasts, customizable charts, and more. Learn more about what we offer.

News that Apple will delay the rollout of its major privacy measures was met with a sigh of relief from mobile advertisers, app developers, and ad tech companies alike.

Apple had announced in June that it would start requiring consent from users before tracking their data—a move that would make its popular Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) tool largely obsolete. This and other privacy changes were scheduled to roll out through iOS 14 later this month, but Apple is now holding off until "early next year" to give third-party developers time to adapt. 

Here's how we think the ad tech sector will use the extra time:

  • Ad tech companies are probably the primary beneficiaries of Apple's delay. Developers at these companies were given only three months to rebuild their infrastructure, which would likely have subjected their users to bugs or crashes. Now, this extended grace period will go toward updating and testing their ad technology.
  • Advertisers will need to make strategic changes around the SKAdNetwork, Apple's privacy-focused IDFA alternative. As expected, SKAdNetwork will offer far less information. For example, it doesn't provide data on actions that users take after an app install (like in-app purchases), and advertisers can track only campaign-level data rather than user-level data. Advertisers must prepare for a drop in the availability of key metrics, which will make it difficult to target or measure the success of ad campaigns.
  • Smaller developers and publishers, especially in gaming, could face a wave of mergers and acquisitions with ad tech companies, Digiday reported. Larger companies with big audiences are more likely to have access to first-party data, through convincing users to opt into tracking or collecting it during login. This won't be the case for many smaller companies that have relied completely on the IDFA and tracking tools that utilize it, such as Facebook's Audience Network. Merging with ad tech companies could give smaller developers access to first-party data—and ad networks, too, may be interested in acquiring these small developers to build out their own tracking tools.

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