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Apple’s IDFA Changes Underscore the Need For Fully Consented Identity Solutions

  • - Travis Clinger
  • 4 min read

It’s been just over seven months since WWDC 2020, when Apple first announced it would be making significant changes to security measures across its operating system. To put it simply, once these changes take effect, app developers will be required to ask users for permission to track and share their Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA)—Apple’s mobile ID—which is used to facilitate mobile in-app advertising and measurement. 

The announcement was met with a flurry of questions and—to some degree—pushback across the industry. In the weeks following, Apple delayed the tracking restrictions originally set for fall 2020, until 2021. 

As of yesterday, we finally have a bit more clarity on what that timeline actually looks like. Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) feature is expected to arrive alongside the next beta release of iOS 14 in March. Further, the feature will be enabled by default, meaning individuals will need to start sharing consent for the IDFA with their mobile applications immediately. 

And while the timing for these restrictions is now clearer, LiveRamp’s position and approach remain unchanged. 

One of LiveRamp’s core tenets is democratizing the open internet. In order to access, sustain, and support high-quality content, we must ensure a competitive business model for all publishers, including mobile publishers, and the ability to transparently link authenticated consumers to marketers.

Many mobile app publishers who rely heavily on the App Store have unknowingly built their revenue model on a sandcastle (the IDFA), which is about to become unstable and unsustainable. Once complete, the seismic shift will have far-reaching implications, including the obstruction of mobile app publishers being able to “see” their end-user, as only a small percentage of users are expected to opt in to share their IDFA. With the majority of users suddenly unrecognizable, mobile publishers will be left with a proverbial—and unappealing—black box. Targeting, suppression, and measurement will be affected. Advertiser interest will likely wane, and with it, the resources mobile publishers require to reinvest building new products and acquiring new users. These changes may result in fewer free mobile apps, which could dampen the consumer experience and reduce industry competition. 

Mobile app developers, gaming marketers, and mobile operating systems need a neutral and transparent infrastructure that will enable them to maintain and even scale their business while still upholding consumer privacy standards, and respect guidelines set forth by device makers and app stores. There are some options available to them right now, but they’re limited. 

The good news is, LiveRamp has you covered with a solution that works today. We built our Authenticated Traffic Solution to enable all publishers to create addressability effectively and at scale and to maintain their relationship with consumers. The net effect empowers publishers to operate viable business models while delivering meaningful, engaging content to consumers. 

Importantly, and certainly timely, ATS was designed with the foresight that all mobile IDs will be limited because they don’t offer transparency and choice to the consumer. ATS prioritizes privacy by providing a durable path for publishers to build first-party relationships while giving consumers transparency and control over their data. From there, publishers and advertisers can commercially connect while maintaining the respect and trust of the individual. It’s also why ATS is being rapidly adopted globally by publishers who want to add incremental addressability to increase revenue opportunities across cookieless environments while avoiding a disruption of their current revenue stream. ATS was built in response to  ATT and allows publishers to deliver addressability when there’s ATT consent. To date, we’ve signed more than 325 global publishers, including 70% of the comScore 20 and 65% of the comScore 50. 

The benefits of implementing ATS go beyond the trusted digital ecosystem. The solution is comprehensive, agile, and built to scale—and can be used anywhere an individual logs in or authenticates. It’s multichannel and supports customer journey engagement across display (on mobile and desktop) as well as mobile apps and connected TV. This means that brands have the means to buy media (on LiveRamp’s people-based identifier) cross-channel and know that they can reach and measure individuals, not just devices, with consistency and accuracy.

In late 2020, we also introduced an extension of ATS called On-Device ATS—a safe and transparent application-first solution that delivers addressability across iOS and Android environments. On-Device ATS honors consumer privacy and choice as well as data protections, so advertisers can reach their audience safely and securely. Specifically, On-Device ATS allows mobile app publishers to leverage their direct relationships with users to deliver addressable inventory without sending user or device identifiers off the device. 

At the end of the day, both On-Device ATS and ATS move the industry forward by driving collaboration across businesses and giving content providers scalable, secure, and sustainable business solutions, while still allowing consumers access to their favorite apps, games, and content.

In addition to ATS and On-Device ATS, LiveRamp will continue to support an IDFA graph as well.

LiveRamp is committed to remaining open, neutral, and to promoting a healthy ecosystem. Our Authenticated Identity Infrastructure, as well as ATS, prepare the ecosystem to thrive with current or anticipated platform changes introduced by the walled gardens and device manufacturers. 

Ready to learn more or get started with ATS? Send us an email at [email protected]