New Digital Age Open Forum: Apple’s Latest Announcements

June 7, 2021

This article originally appeared in New Digital Age.

We asked for your views on the implications for advertising of Apple’s announcements this week at WWDC.

Shumel Lais, Founder and CEO, Appsumer

Ultimately, Apple’s announcements at WWDC levels the playing field and provides clarity for app advertisers who have recently had to deal with plenty of uncertainty.

Much of Apple’s privacy moves are designed to block fingerprinting and the use of alternative third-party identifiers. Recently, with the move to App Tracking Transparency (ATT) and SKAdNetwork (SKAN), advertisers who have used fingerprinting and alternative identifiers have been getting an unfair advantage on advertisers who have tried to play by the rules and rely on SKAN data. The transparency of the new “App Privacy Report” will remove some of these underhand tactics and likely lead to apps that flout the rules being rejected by the App Store. The limiting of IP address access and extended “hide my email” feature will also further reduce the ability to fingerprint or use alternative identifiers, which is good news for developers and ad-tech vendors who want to play by the rules. Now’s the time for them to invest more heavily in better understanding their SKAN data.

However, an important announcement for app advertisers, that flew under the radar at the main event, was that advertisers will now get direct access to raw SKAdNetwork postbacks from Apple. This has been a challenge in the early days of SKAN and ATT as media channels have been controlling the postback. Some were dressing up and obfuscating data and differing logic from measurement partners created further confusion about what metric the advertiser was actually optimising from. This will be welcome news, particularly for large advertisers who will have the resources to independently translate the data into something useful, where they can make Apple-to-Apple comparisons between media channels.

Joe Root, CEO & Co-founder at Permutive

When Apple removed third-party cookies from Safari, it effectively deleted identity from the bidstream, and a common workaround has been to use an IP address to build a fingerprint or to use it as a replacement identifier. Apple’s announcement deals another massive blow to those that continue to use and rely on identity in the digital advertising ecosystem.  

It’s because IP addresses have a consent issue, and any attempt by adtech to avoid that consent flow is seen as a negative by Apple. From an advertising and consent perspective, in many ways, IP addresses are worse, as they can’t be changed — they are persistent in a way that cookies are not.  

The shift to IP address is a replacement for third-party identifiers, and Apple has removed that as an option — Google will likely follow suit. 

When there is no identity for media buyers, two things will happen. Publishers’ first-party data is the only media currency, so advertisers have to rely on this data and work more closely with publishers. And digital advertising moves from micro-targeting to a cohort-based buying model, where publishers build first-party data audiences and send them into the ecosystem as cohorts. 

Instead of quick fixes and workarounds, advertisers should be partnering with publishers who are working towards a sustainable advertising ecosystem, built on protecting user privacy.

Rob Webster Founder, Canton Marketing Solutions

This is another big move in the same direction of travel. It shouldn’t surprise anyone though it does accelerate change.

The big news here is that any third party tech in the browser won’t get the IP any more. Also VPN and submission of email. This removes many of the workarounds to cookies and ID in Safari.

Logged in environment, server to server will still work fine. Premium media and publishers unaffected. Also publishers pushing their own data will be fine.

Yet actors relying on third party tech in browser will find the walls closing down. I am sure other browsers will follow.

The direction of travel and the future are clear. There is a runway for the best and the innovators to succeed. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail for any actor.

Lisa Gormley, Marketing Manager at Ambition Creative

As a marketer, it’s both anxiety inducing and liberating to think of effectively saying goodbye to basics like the open rate metric. However, this is another good kick to the industry for a focus on the metrics that matter. This could encourage some more creative bravery and a less annoying inbox for all!

Femi Taiwo, Head of Consultancy Europe at ForwardPMX

The Safari Privacy Report is a no-brainer. This is an imbed of a Ghostery report and will help with transparency, although not much else (I wouldn’t be surprised if a future iteration went a step further to allow Safari to honour DNT requests from vendors in the report).

Mail Privacy Protection is huge but will have a limited impact in reality. Most users of dominant email clients will have their app, rather than using the mail client (and most organisations with a decent IT/InfoSec team wouldn’t touch the Mail app for corporate comms). The value exchange for downloading your fave email client’s app was made clear long ago.

It’s more interesting for what Apple MAY intend to do with their services business. With iCloud gaining a VPN, Apple is subtly positioning itself in the ISP layer.
It’s more likely they’re gearing up to play in the third space: infrastructure after winning in the hardware and software spaces.

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