What Does Apple’s IDFA Change Mean

for Mobile Games Advertising?

As data privacy evolves you need to be preparing for a cookieless future right now. The impacts of privacy changes means that your advertising strategies will need to shift. However, there’s a big opportunity to make changes now that will give your mobile games studio a huge buff for the future. More and more third-party data will continue to disappear so building your first-party data strategy is key. Read below to learn about the changes and how you can get started right now.

The Cookieless Future

We are living in the era of data privacy. Global users are demanding their privacy be respected, and countries are responding in turn. The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) are the big guns protecting your online privacy rights, but other countries are working on new legislation that specifically deals with online data. Canada, for example, is currently undergoing a thorough review and revision of it’s Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) in order to better protect its citizens online.

Governments aren’t the only entities responding to the need for better data protection. Private companies like Google and Apple are making massive changes to their privacy policies due to increased demands from consumers. Take for example third-party cookies. Third-party cookies have been extensively used by advertisers to track website visitors and target the right audience with their ads based on their browsing habits. Safari (Apple’s default browser) and the Firefox browser block third-party cookies by default. In March of 2021, Google announced that they too will be blocking third-party cookies in their browser, Chrome.

The ongoing changes to how users’ data can be collected, shared and used means that the $300 billion online advertising business is in major flux. And now the market is shifting even further with the release of Apple’s iOS14.5 and the end of default sharing of the Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA). As a mobile games company you’re trying to understand how these changes will impact your user acquisition, re-targeting and revenue generation.

An iphone showing a user's App Privacy settings.

The app privacy section displayed on each app’s product page shows users what data may be collected about them, and whether that data is linked to their identity or device [image courtesy of Apple]

What are the Apple IDFA Changes and What Data Are You Losing?

Three young adults standing in a semi circle, looking at their phones and smiling. A speech bubble is coming from one of the phones and says: "Ask App Not to Track"

The IDFA is a device-level identifier that advertisers used to track individuals’ interactions with mobile advertising campaigns, without collecting personal and identifying information. This allowed mobile app companies to deliver personalized ads and to accurately target and re-target the right audience.

In the past users who wanted to opt-out of being tracked could do so through Apple’s Limited Ad Tracking (LAT). Similar to how individuals can limit the information collected about them using Google’s Ad Personalization, iOS users could turn off their IDFA with LAT. Only about 30% of iOS users opted out of personalization through LAT, and mobile games advertisers were able to collect information about the remaining users through their IDFAs.

But as of April 26, 2021, the IDFA is no more and mobile advertisers are going to have to understand what they’ve lost. The switch to SKAdNetwork means limited, delayed and less granular data and presents new challenges to targeting and re-targeting, advertising revenue and install attribution. Mobile advertisers will need to adapt and shift their strategy.

The ongoing changes to how users’ data can be collected, shared and used means that the $300 billion online advertising business is in major flux.

What do the Apple IDFA Changes Mean for Mobile Games Advertising?

Picture of a laptop keyboard. The enter key is blue and has the GDPR logo

Keeping in line with the spirit of legislation like the GDPR, the end of IDFA marks the shift from opt-out to opt-in permissions. One of the changes is the introduction of App Tracking Transparency (ATT): an app pop-up window that the app company can use to explain exactly what data they’d like to collect and what they’re going to do with it. The feature ensures that apps obtain the users consent to collect their data before they are able to do so. It’s estimated that only 10-15% of users will opt-in.

With the IDFA no more and far less users giving their consent to be tracked, there are numerous changes to how advertisers will be able to collect information. In short: the current way of targeting audiences, analyzing their behavior and re-targeting is obsolete. Mobile games companies will no longer be able to rely on the detailed, granular data from IDFAs and are going to need to adapt quickly – but don’t worry! We’ve got you covered with the steps you can take right now to position yourself as a mobile studio leader post-IDFA.

Looking at the bigger picture, Apple’s IDFA changes are part of a much broader change in the way user data is collected, used, and shared. Consumers will continue to demand that their data privacy is respected, and private companies and legislation will adapt to the new privacy-conscious world. If mobile games companies want to be successful going forward, they will need to redesign their advertising and marketing strategies in line with the evolving industry.

Amongst this massive shift, there is opportunity for mobile games companies to embrace better data policies and become leaders in privacy. By adopting a privacy-by-design approach and creating a first-party data strategy that builds trust with their users, forward-thinking mobile game studios and their advertisers have an opportunity to be market leaders.