Getting ready for Apple's privacy changes

January 20, 2021

Tags: Industry Perspectives, Marketers, Publishers, 2021

Casie Attardi Jordan
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Note: This blog post was updated May 19, 2021 to reflect current SDK information.

Last year, Apple announced app privacy changes including new frameworks for event reporting, data nutrition label submissions, and user tracking permission prompts. The most notable change announced was a new user permission requirement for IDFA collection. In an update published in September of 2020, Apple informed developers of a delay in that implementation, and have not yet confirmed a date. 

Regardless of when the prompt enforcement launches, Apple’s change represents a disruption to how advertising on iOS devices has historically been measured. It is important to prepare your business now for these future changes. 

MoPub remains committed to supporting the thousands of developers, publishers and buyers that rely on our platform to fuel their mobile app innovation. This guide provides a ‘to-do’ checklist that will help mobile app publishers and buyers prepare for when Apple’s privacy changes take effect. 

Mobile App Publisher Checklist:

1. Begin testing your prompt implementation now so that you have a winning strategy to maximize IDFA collection when the prompt is enforced. Given the limited flexibility of the prompt and the fact that users can only be prompted once, consider adding a custom ‘pre-prompt’ which will allow you to elaborate on the impact of a user opting in/out. A benefit of this is that you can use your own native designs and copy for the pre-prompt. Employing a transparent and clear approach can help  contribute to user trust, which may  make them more open to providing IDFA consent. 

2. Update your app with relevant partner SDK versions. In the absence of consistent IDFAs, Apple has provided the SKAdNetwork API as an attribution framework. Ensure that you have updated to the latest version of your monetization partner SDKs that support the SKAdNetwork API. MoPub supports the SKAdNetwork API through our 5.14+ SDKs for publishers and through our programmatic exchange for demand partners. The latest MoPub SDK updates also support SKAdNetwork v2.2+, which include support for View-Through Attribution (VTA).

3. Make sure your app’s Info.plist file is updated with the IDs of all of your monetization partners. To configure your app with SKAdNetwork IDs, add the MoPub SKAdNetwork ID and the IDs of all the DSPs to whom you want to sell to your Info.plist file. Doing so indicates that your app wants to work with MoPub and accept bids from these buyers. See our iOS integration guide for more details.

4. Use MoPub’s SKAdNetwork IDs Manager tool to gather and process your relevant SKAdNetwork IDs. You can use this tool even if you do not work with MoPub. Our tool processes and deduplicates SKAdNetwork IDs for MoPub, Marketplace buyers, and MoPub supported partners as well as non-supported third party lists and publisher custom lists then generates a finalized Info.plist output so that you can easily integrate it into your app.

5. Consider leveraging MoPub’s impression-level revenue data (ILRD) to help capture the most useful performance measurement. More information on this as well as some example implementations for it are available here.

Mobile App Buyer Checklist:

1. Remember that Apple’s changes only impact a subset of the addressable mobile app ecosystem of users. Advertising ID tracking in the Android world uses the standard Google Advertising ID, and can continue to be measured as it always has. While it is impossible to know the overall impact Apple’s changes will have, we expect that there will be IDFA preservation as publishers test, iterate and refine their IDFA prompt approaches. As such, we do not believe that advertisers should reduce their mobile app buying footprint because of these changes.

2. Leverage SKAdNetwork. MoPub supports SKAdNetwork attribution by allowing advertising partners to submit signed clicks to the SKAdNetwork API. When DSPs provide this signature and associated metadata to MoPub, the MoPub SDK then passes this information to Apple’s SKAdNetwork API. DSPs wishing to leverage SKAdNetwork must also register with Apple. See the imp.ext.skadn field for more details.

3. Consider your most meaningful post-install events. The SKAdNetwork attribution system also allows for a limited amount (6 bits) of post-install data to be passed to buying platforms that allow them to optimise your spend. Given the data limitations you should consider the most critical downstream events to optimise against, and work with your buying partners on how best to use SKAdNetwork to pass that information.

4. Consider contextual advertising for any remaining IDFA-less buying. Fortunately for advertisers, in-app inventory offers powerful tools for contextual advertising, providing a compelling option for targeting campaigns in the new privacy environment. See our tips for using contextual advertising and unlocking powerful opportunities to leverage unique signals from the in-app environment.

5. Leverage new programmatic standards. The IAB Tech Lab has introduced technical specifications aimed at adapting Apple’s SKAdNetwork, a method for validating advertiser app installations, for programmatic ad buying. Register your SKAdNetwork ID here and learn about the OpenRTB object extensions, APIs and file formats here.

MoPub will continue to work with our partners to share our insights and best practices for the app ecosystem as the privacy climate continues to evolve. If you have any questions, please contact your MoPub account team or visit our Support Center.

About the author: Casie Jordan, Sr. Director, Professional Services & Partnerships

Casie leads the Global Professional Services & Partnerships teams for MoPub. Casie joined MoPub in 2014 and tweets from @kcavery. Prior to MoPub, Casie held management positions at Adobe and Operative Media. She proudly hails from the Jersey Shore, loves the Olympics, and looks forward to Halloween each year.

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