What exactly is an IDFA and why is it relevant to marketers?

By David Stob, Media Director 

IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers) is a unique identifier for mobile devices and is used to target and measure the effectiveness of advertising on a user level across mobile devices. Think of it like the mobile world’s version of a third-party cookie. As it stands, a user has to opt-out of sharing that information with advertisers and ad tech vendors, whereas Apple wants them to opt-in. But the more people refuse to share this data, the less there is of it for companies to profit from knowing how people behave in mobile apps.

Apple’s rollout of IDFA opt-out compliance in iOS 14 is expected to come in the first half of this year, with a date not clearly stated by the company. The vague estimate it has given forecasts the update could arrive either in late March or some point in April. It has already been delayed from 2020 given the complexities of tech giants requesting to adapt to this threat of reaching new customers. The iPhone maker describes its IDFA changes as App Tracking Transparency and gives users the option of not sharing their IDFA data. Every app has to ask you upfront whether it’s okay to share your data with third parties.

Example of IDFA compliance request

Facebook in particular said some apps could see a 50% drop in revenue as a result of the changes, and it also launched a campaign to explain how the IDFA changes would hurt small businesses.

For now, count on web Publishers to continually collect data in anticipated compliance of CCPA and other privacy statutes as they roll out in the near future. Inevitably, when you’ve landed on a webpage the first thing you see is a pop-up or pop-under footer asking you to accept the site’s Cookie policy such as:

“Cookies help to provide a more personalized experience and relevant advertising for you, and web analytics for us.” This usually includes the option to Allow or Decline. If you do Decline, you may not always be able to access the web content in its entirety. Others simply notify you of this data collection without requiring any acknowledgement at this point.

What are we as Marketers to do?

1st Party data is important for targeting in the future including creating remarketing pools, and using data to target your current customers as well as creating models of lookalike audiences based on the traits your consumers share. Marketers will move toward reliance on contextual relevancy and probabilistic matching more so in the future as we move forward with these regulations.

Owned media is a smaller piece of the pie compared to reaching new potential consumers with paid media, but very important. You’ve already built a loyal customer base in the form of email addresses, phone numbers, and social media followers and fans. Remarketing to them is key and the lowest-hanging fruit as they’ve already expressed interest in your company or products by sharing their personal information with you or following your social platforms. It is important to continue to push content to your loyal fanbase on a consistent cadence by reengaging them and staying top-of-mind depending on your product lifecycle; are you selling products weekly, monthly or need to keep top-of-mind consideration with your customers?

Predictions for Apple users

Currently in the U.S. about 45% of smartphone users are using Apple’s iOS platform, and even with some expectations of as high as 80% adoption to opt-in for relevant and customized ads to you allowing you to control your preferences, 20% of Apple users can change the monetization of data for businesses.

Consumers could also feel some negative impacts, from getting spammed with irrelevant ads to having to pay for previously free services. The World Wide Web exists as a free service because of advertisers who pay to reach their potential audiences, but what about you? Would you opt-in to accept relevant targeted ads to keep the Internet as a free service?

David Stob is Media Director at Schifino Lee, Tampa-based Advertising & Branding agency

Schifino Lee

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