Apple’s iOS 6 changes tracking for advertisers
As the privacy debate continues in the mobile marketing industry, Apple appears to be helping its users decide whether they want tailored, relevant messages or non-targeted, irrelevant messages with a new feature called ‘IdentifierForAdvertising’ (IDFA). IDFA is a new non-permanent, non-personal device identifier that advertising networks will be able to use to give iPhone owners more control over an advertiser’s ability to use tracking methods on them. The unveiling of this new feature ends months of speculation as to the steps Apple was taking after it announced it would no longer support Unique Device Identifier (UDID) with iOS 6.
Following the release of iOS 6 on September 19th, a large proportion of iOS owners are expected to upgrade to the new software in the first few weeks. Data from Chitika Insights from October 2011 shows that over a third of iPhone owners (37.7 percent) had upgraded to the iOS 5 in the first two weeks of its release. Based on this behavior, mobile marketers can expect the majority of iOS owners will upgrade to the latest software to take advantage of the new features it offers.
The new Limit Ad Tracking option (“IdentifierForAdvertising”) feature found in the Settings section of iOS 6
If iPhone users choose to limit ad tracking, advertising networks using the Advertising Identifier can no longer gather information to serve them targeted ads. Apple has already said that in the future alladvertising networks will be required to use the Advertising Identifier. However, until advertising networks transition to using the IDFA, users may still receive targeted adverts from other networks.
Turning on the new feature won’t remove adverts from devices or the ability to track conversions of mobile media campaigns. The adverts that do get delivered will instead be more generic, non-personalized, and non-targeted to the interests and actions of the iPhone user. Apple’s documentation for the new ‘Ad Support’ application programming interface (API) suggests that elements like frequency capping, conversion events, and unique users’ estimation are still permitted to provide a certain amount of measuring tools to help quantify the effectiveness of campaigns.
As well as IDFA, iOS 6 introduces a new publisher-specific ID “identifierforvendor” (IDFV). With these new IDs, it is important for advertisers and publishers to update their software development kits (SDK) in order to make use of the new features. Those that do not update and continue to use existing SDKs that capture UDID and MAC addresses, or which use a cookie-based solution or a device fingerprint, will find that their campaigns are not tracked as accurately or provide limited measurement on devices running iOS 6 (iPod Touch, iPhone, iPad).
The mobile marketing industry now has a responsibility, on behalf of clients, to help educate consumers in the benefits of sharing information in order to receive better, more relevant and more targeted advertising. Targeted advertising is more useful because it provides specific information based on the consumer’s own interests and behaviors, and is not just irrelevant ‘noise’. Brands and marketers also benefit from better targeting thanks to IDFA providing a scalable and accurate way to track mobile media conversions on all iOS 6 Apple devices. With the new software, brands and marketers can capture more details for apps that will prove to be beneficial for tracking and delivering better, more successful campaigns.
UDID vs IFA:
Unique Device Identifier (UDID): UDID was the unique number that Apple and developers used since the iPhone launched in 2007. The UDID would stay constant, collecting information and delivering advertising to the device. Apple announced that it would be discontinuing it 18 months ago for privacy reasons as the UDID cannot be reset meaning that if a device gets sold, the new owner’s profile data would get mixed in with the former’s.
IdentifierForAdvertising (IDFA): like UDID, IDFA is unique to a device and enables advertisers to track mobile media conversions – even cross-app data for better targeting techniques. IDFA doesn’t contain Personally Identifiable Information (PII) as users can opt out. It is able to limit advertising tracking at any time, which helps to address privacy concerns. For users who do opt out, IDFA allocates a different value to the device to prevent tracking. Should they opt-in to targeted advertising, the device will only start tracking once the iPhone user gives their permission. Another significant improvement over UDID is that when a phone is reset or sold to a new user, the IDFA resets all information to provide a clean slate.
When Apple announced iOS 6 in June, it also revealed that over 80 percent of its users had upgraded their devices to iOS 5, compared with just seven percent of Android users upgrading their handsets to run Android 4.0. The roll-out of iOS 6 will see millions of devices moving to Apple’s new advertiser tools. This requires publishers, advertising networks, and advertisers across the industry to convert to IDFA. With the transition to iOS 6, IDFA should prove to be more accurate, efficient, and consistent in its use of user data information, which will deliver better campaigns and push mobile marketing forward.
By Eric Mugnier, Senior Vice President, M&C Saatchi Mobile
In 2006 Eric Mugnier joined the founding team of Inside Mobile, whose aim was to provide international brands with mobile marketing solutions that had a creative edge. By 2010 Inside Mobile had managed to go above and beyond all expectations, and in March 2010 part of the company was sold to M&C Saatchi and Inside Mobile was rebranded M&C Saatchi Mobile.
Eric has worked across all business areas at M&C Saatchi Mobile and has been able to use his extensive knowledge and experience to help drive the business forward, allowing it to become a market leader. In 2011 Eric moved to the US to open the first international office of M&C Saatchi Mobile. Today, Eric heads up M&C Saatchi Mobile in America via two offices in New York and Los Angeles.