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During its annual Worldwide Developers Conference in June, Apple released several changes to its devices and operating systems, as it always does. But tucked within the shiny new user interface were a series of privacy updates to iOS that have more or less eliminated a critical part of in-app mobile advertising and measurement—Apple’s IDFA. In this blog we’ll take a closer look at these privacy changes and how they will impact homebuilder marketers and advertising. 

What is the Apple IDFA?

An IDFA is a string of letters and numbers assigned to Apple devices such as iPhones, iPads, and Apple TVs. Google’s Android also has a mobile ID called the Android Advertising ID (AAID), which functions the same way as Apple’s IDFA. Advertisers use the IDFA to identify iOS, iPadOS, and tvOS users across apps without revealing any personal information. It is important to clarify that these mobile IDs are tracked within and between apps but are not used for tracking in web browsers on mobile devices.

Why is the IDFA important for marketers?

This random device identifier allows marketers to deliver personalized and targeted advertising, run frequency capping, and measure campaign performance. Without mobile identifiers, mobile app advertising loses some of their effectiveness in calculating campaign performance, for example, conversion or click through rates. Without these measurements tracking mobile users effectively, it can be hard to quantify a return on investment for marketers. 

What changes were made to the IDFA?

Prior to the privacy changes released in June, Apple has developed a number of privacy settings for their users. One of the main settings was Limit Ad Tracking (LAT), which allows iOS device users to opt-out of targeted advertising. When enabled, the user’s IDFA will be zeroed out—or rather the string of random numbers and letters will all be replaced with zeros. While there were options to opt-out of ad tracking in previous iOS updates, the IDFA associated with a device would still be passed off to advertising companies with a request to not use the identifier. Despite the request to not track the device, many companies did not honor it. As a result, Apple decided to zero out this code for their user’s choosing to opt-out. 

At the Worldwide Developers Conference this year, Apple has added to Limited Add Tracking privacy settings to allow users more control over their privacy and opt-out information. Rolled out as part of iOS-14, is the AppTrackingTransparency Framework (ATT Framework). This framework requires an app to explicitly request a user’s permission before accessing their device’s IDFA. It also requires applications to state the reason for tracking the IDFA in the prompt requesting permission. If a user rejects app tracking, the user will appear to that app as if they have Limited App Tracking turned on, and their IDFA would be zeroed out. 

Additionally, iOS 14 will introduce an app “privacy dashboard” of sorts that will allow users to understand the information that various apps are tracking for them. 

What does this mean for marketers?

Marketers in nearly every industry utilize mobile advertising. Many of the social media giants, like Facebook and Instagram, have robust advertising platforms that allow marketers to narrow in on very specific target segments and measure those results. This makes mobile advertising a very effective tool for marketers. However, with nearly 25% of mobile users being iOS users, these applications will be very heavily impacted by the iOS-14 privacy changes. As users are becoming increasingly aware of their data privacy, more individuals have opted out of advertising tracking over the years using LAT. With the new explicit opt-out prompts associated with the AppTracking Transparency Framework, the proportion of iOS device users choosing to opt-out will likely continue to rise.

In a CNBC interview with Instragram’s CEO Adam Mosseri, he makes the following statements when asked about the impact of the IDFA changes. 

“If the ecosystem changes in a way that advertisers can’t really measure their return on investment, that’s really going to be, yes, somewhat problematic for our business, but it’s going to be problematic for all the big ad platforms roughly equally, so I’m not that worried about it over the long run, It’s going to be much, much more problematic for all the small businesses,” he said. “There are millions of them out there that rely on us to target customers and to reach those customers. Particularly during a pandemic when they’re hurting.”

In devices running iOS 14, advertising technology companies won’t be able to collect the IDFA and use it to identify users, unless of course they opt in. If iOS 14 users opt-out, they will still be shown ads, but they’ll be based on other methods like contextual targeting rather than based on their IDFA. Contextual targeting is essentially placing the most appropriate ads within the right context. For example, placing an ad for a hand mixer in a recipe article. 

With mobile in-app advertising becoming less effective, marketers will need to find creative ways to use contextual targeting. Marketers will be required to develop a very deep understanding of their customer’s buyer journey in order to segment and market effectively on contextual grounds. If there was ever a time to invest in better understanding your customer, that time is now. 

Each unique customer has their own distinct needs, wants and motivations that require a personalized experience. In order to effectively nurture each customer, marketers must leverage data analytics to best communicate with each member of their audience. Those businesses that are able to effectively adapt and incorporate data and analytics into their marketing strategy will remain competitive when these new iOS-14 updates are live. 

At OpenHouse.ai we empower marketers within the homebuilding industry to leverage their real-time data to better understand each customer’s buying journey. Our technology equips homebuilders with the tools to remain competitive and adapt to the changing market conditions. To learn more about OpenHouse.ai fill out the form below!