Advertising Guest Columns
3 mins read

What is Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) and why should publishers care?

Over the past few years, the movement towards increased data privacy has grown due to shifts in consumer mindset, legislation, and changes across the digital advertising landscape. This year, the industry has been preparing for two major developments: the end of third-party cookies with Chrome’s deprecation and the implementation of Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework.

The latter has arrived as part of the latest iteration of Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS 14.5. ATT requires mobile app publishers to request permission to collect a user’s app data for tracking and accessing device identifiers, such as the IDFA. This permission can only be requested once and the decision made by the user persists unless the app is uninstalled and reinstalled or the user manually changes their permissions.

An IDFA is tied to devices rather than browsers and is used to track and identify a user without revealing any personal information. As such, IDFAs help advertisers identify user interactions with ads or in-app actions. For years, mobile app publishers and marketers have relied on IDFAs as a means to reach iOS users with personalised ads and to measure the results of said campaigns.

However, with the general consensus that only 30% of iOS users may opt in, publishers will see an impact on ad monetisation while marketers will lose the ability to reach consumers, measure campaigns, and connect data based on IDFAs. Lack of access to high-value addressable audiences will lead brands to lose interest in investing within the mobile app ecosystem which will, in turn, lead to a negative hit for consumers.

Looking ahead, if publishers are no longer earning revenue from advertisers, they have fewer resources available to invest into improving their apps, enhancing the user experience and acquiring new users. This will force publishers of free apps to begin charging users, changing the customer experience and reducing industry competition.

So, publishers and developers have to find solutions.

What can app publishers do about it?

The issues the mobile app industry faces with IDFAs and ATT is very similar to those raised by the deprecation of third-party cookies. While multiple solutions exist, the best way forward is to select one based on first-party authenticated data, leaning into ATT, and getting as much consumer ATT consent as possible. When authentications are based on a trusted value exchange and gained with the appropriate ATT consent, publishers will be able to connect their addressable inventory to advertiser demand, all while protecting the data privacy of their users. In turn, this will enable app publishers to deliver relevant content to their most engaged consumers, maintain addressability at scale and take control of their relationships with both users and advertisers.

In order to make this work, however, there is an urgent need for collaboration within the advertising industry. By coming together to develop a strategic and sustainable infrastructure that centres on privacy, we can all continue to thrive and create the innovative experiences and services people have come to expect in the data-driven age.

Tim Geenen
Managing Director, Addressability EMEA, LiveRamp

LiveRamp is a leading data company offering identity resolution that is integrated throughout the digital ecosystem, providing brands and their partners with the foundation for true omnichannel marketing. Its services aim to transform the technology platforms used by its clients into true ‘people-based marketing channels’.