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iOS14 and the AdTech Industry: What Lies Ahead

i0S 14 changes *everything* for the Adtech industry. Get to know a practitioner’s views on the same.
ยป NextBigWhat’s #Threadmill brings you curated Twitter threads on product, life and growth.


Apple as the big bad bully has been the theme recently for News publishers, App developers etc, but one industry that is also going to go through this, but little has been spoken about: Advertising. iOS 14 has some interesting changes to say the least. ๐Ÿงต(1/n)
Before I start – obviously, these are my own views, not that of my employer. I have this perspective because I earn a salary by selling ads & hence have a bone to pick in this battle. But, this is not in any way representative of an official view or a stance.(2/n)
Phew, now that that is out of the way. So, to those who don’t know the big bad world of digital ads outside Google/FB works not through your e-mail id or phone number, but through this data signal called an advertising id – GAID on android, IDFA on iOS. (3/n)
This is the only value/signal through which the ecosystem knows you. Besides, it also gives you an option to reset it & erase your history if you are annoyed, but asks you to go through an 18 step process while doing the tree pose – so yeah, good for us ad players ๐Ÿ™ƒ(4/n)
We don’t know your name, age, gender (again, non G/FB), etc. We know you listen to music, watch videos, maybe read news & that you play Candy crush clones- all the time! So, we piece together some information to try (not always very well!) and show you some relevant ads.(5/n)
Now, what is the importance for this id to anyone who spends $$ on ads? This helps you “track” users across the ecosystem, understand which channel helped drive what quality of users and attribute results deterministically to make decisions on what’s happening with your $$(6/n)
Because that is what digital advertising was all about, it helps you measure Return on Ad Spends, make sure you invest in channels that drive LTV>CAC. So, if you have wondered how ads work and how measurement happens – this is a “slightly” key component I would say (7/n)
Now, given that an ecosystem of advertisers (for eg Flipkart, Uber), publishers (Hotstar, Candy Crush) and platforms (InMobi, Branch) have built their world around this, you would think that unless there are serious flaws, it can go on without a wholesale change? (8/n)
But, unlike almost every other industry that has been built on top of iOS, Apple doesn’t get any cut of the advertising $$ spent on Apple devices (to date ie). So, now Apple through iOS 14 is setting up the stage to get themselves into this and shake things up(9/n)
Now, don’t get me wrong, the privacy of users is important, and giving controls is a great idea. But, here is the catch – the recommended alternative (SKAN) involves Apple being the entity that attributes and solves some parts of the puzzle. Sounds familiar? (11/n)
Through this move, what they have now done is this – a seat on the table in the advertising ecosystem. They have also managed to pull back all the players of an ecosystem who were light years ahead of them back with this simple so called privacy-first masterstroke (12/n)
Of course, today they are “providing” this service free of cost to advertisers (while everyone casually looks for other alternatives that don’t exist). Having seen their moves in the past, can we hazard a guess on where this is going?๐Ÿง (13/n)
Now, coming back to what does this mean if you are a brand/advertiser? With a pop-up as obvious as this, how many users do you think are going to opt-in and let you “track” them? What does this mean for your marketing stack? You should start asking the questions soon (14/n)
If you are spending on app-installs, there are alternatives through which all platforms in the ecosystem are working at breakneck speed to make sure you have options to keep things as is, albeit with likely lesser confidence. But we will get you there ๐Ÿคž(15/n)
Now, this thing called retargeting that you use to get users back to your app, improve the funnel, get cart conversions etc? Yeah, hold on – be ready for a rude shock, know that it may disappear. Or at least with similar predictability is going to be supremely tough (16/n)
Obviously, everyone in the industry is now running uphill on a high-speed treadmill that caters to a $100B spend. But, Apple, of course, doesn’t need to change anything – they are once again, making everyone else dance to their tune, because why not? ๐Ÿ™‚ (17/n)
This thread is dumbing it down and taking many of the other deeper nuances on what the actual challenges are. If you are an advertiser with sizable ad spends on iOS devices, please spend time with your partners to know what the best options are and assess the impact soon (18/n)
Also, please know that no one knows all the answers because- you know Apple isn’t exactly taking anyone’s opinion on what needs to be changed or modified on any of this. If someone (even my colleagues) say they are completely confident – THEY ARE LYING! (19/n)
But, despite actually being a loyal iPhone & iOS user for almost 8 years now, I now officially hate Apple as a stakeholder to rely on in any industry because they just change the rules to suit them whenever they want. But of course, I will still tweet from an iPhone ๐Ÿ˜‰. (20/n)
Again, so that I clarify this, this doesn’t mean you won’t see ads any more if you click No. You will of course continue to see them. Earlier there was a small probability that ads may have been relevant, now that small chance also doesn’t exist ๐Ÿ˜‚. (21/n)

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