Privacy legislation and browsers’ third-party cookie deprecation were just the start.

Tech companies’ latest moves to limit ad targeting aim to do so at the operation system level.

Apple has declared iOS its IDFA (Identity for Advertisers), a tool which helps them gather user data, will enable user control for the system by default.

It has just delayed that change from this month’s release of iOS 14 to early in 2021. But the change, when it comes, will nevertheless, be profound.

What Is the IDFA? Learn What It's Used for — and Why iOS 14 Killed It | The Branch Blog

In this video interview with Beet.TV, Forrester analyst Stephanie Liu says the change will have several effects:

  • Reduced targeting capabilities
  • Slower, smaller measurement
  • Opt-in rates will be low
  • Workarounds will be clamped-down-upon
  • Google may follow suit

Reduced targeting

“(IDFA) is a primary identifier for individuals,” Liu says. “It’s supposed to be semi-persistent.”

She says IDFA’s switch will raise questions like: “Can you target ads on a one-to-one basis? Can you re-target consumers based on what they’ve been doing in other apps and websites? And the answer there, frankly, is ‘no’.

“So it’s going to be much harder to get true personalised advertising the way that marketers have been able to for a while now.”

Measurement dip

In addition, measurement capabilities will be reduced. “They’ve restricted the kinds of data you can get,” Liu says. “So you’re only going to get performance data in aggregate, not in real time.

“They’re going to intentionally create a lag, so you can’t try to re-identify people who’ve clicked on an ad, and it’s limited to 100 campaigns at a time.

“So it’s going to be much less granular and much harder to track, frankly, which ads are performing the best at any given moment.”

Opt-in explosion

Configure iOS13 location settings – Zenly CommunityIDFA isn’t going away, Apple is just making it opt-in by default. But that may still lead to a dramatic reduction in its usefulness for advertisers. The reason lies in an earlier, similar change, Liu says.

“I think opt-in rates will, frankly, be pretty low,” she asserts.

“We saw this with the last version of iOS, when they resurfaced Location Settings and asked you to confirm, ‘Do you want this app to always have your location, even in the background?’ When they created that popup, the opt in rates went down drastically.”

Liu says a similar pattern has been seen when true cookie consent notices have been displayed, leading to reduced cookie opt-in.

“Basically, when you give consumers choice and transparency, they’re much more likely to take ownership of their privacy rights and revoke some of those settings,” Liu adds.

Workarounds won’t work

As ever, workarounds may be available. After all, devices still report data fragments like software version, language, WiFi network. Advertisers can try piecing them together into “fingerprints”.

But not only can this data joining lead to questionable results – Liu believes this, too, will be fall under Apple’s privacy eye.

“I suspect that that is a short-lived workaround, because Apple will try to clamp down on that, similar to with intelligent tracking protection in Safari,” she says. “They’ve updated it and gone through multiple iterations to, again, clamp down on those workarounds.”

Google, too?

Both Google and Apple are engaged in pro-consumer privacy measures. Google has already announced it will deprecate third-party browser cookies by 2022.

“We see consumers, an increasing number will go into their settings and try to block third party cookies in there, or they’re downloading extensions that will block cookies, et cetera,” Liu reports.

“Apple is setting the bar and Google has to respond. So in this case, I would not be surprised if they also take similar measures with the Google Ad ID.”

This video is from a Beet.TV series title Advertising in a Time of Privacy-Centricity presented by AppsFlyer. For more videos from the series, please visit this page.