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Why the Recent Mobile Privacy Updates Are a Good Thing

Heady is a Brooklyn, NY based mobile product consultancy that builds sustainable innovation through design and technology. We integrate with your team to solve pressing problems, create polished websites and apps, and scale results over the short and long term. Heady prides itself on its no-nonsense, reliable approach to working with clients. Everything we do—from initial builds to ongoing maintenance—is to thoughtfully solve your business challenge and grow your product.

Read on for the CEO of Heady, Rahul Khosla’s, guest contribution to the Iterable blog, and to learn why he thinks the recent mobile privacy updates are ultimately a good thing for the industry and consumers alike.

It’s a rule that when it comes to technology, the only constant is change. But some changes cause more noise than others, and that’s especially true for the recent release of iOS 14.5, Apple’s newest update, which includes App Tracking Transparency measures (also known as ATT).

While the updates have certainly resulted in their fair share of grumbles, particularly among digital advertisers, these moves are objectively positive. Not just for consumers and privacy advocates, but for the industry as a whole.

A Little More Background on ATT

Long story short: Each iOS device is assigned a unique and random Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA), which previously enabled advertisers to target ads and track their effectiveness at an individual level. But as of late April (and some time before that for beta testers), users will receive a notification when an app wants to track them.

The option to allow tracking will now be clearly presented to consumers through the notification versus being a toggle buried within their settings. With the move from automatic IDFA tracking to opt-in, Apple is essentially turning the faucet off when it comes to user data. But it’s not a wholly negative thing—advertising is not going away, it’s just moving from device-specific data to aggregate data. Plus, the playing field is level here—all iOS apps must adhere—so all iOS apps will be affected equally.

What This Mobile Privacy Update Means For Brands?

Ever since Apple made the announcement, there has been a lot written about what these updates mean from an advertising perspective. Now that users can easily understand and control whether or not an app is tracking them, there’s potential for lower opt-in rates, which could impact the accuracy of ad targeting, ad efficacy measurements, as well as ad campaign optimization.

Benchmarks will shift and key performance indicators will need to change. That being said, there are other ways to target potential users, like app categories, descriptions, ratings, reviews, etc. Additionally, brands can make use of the Store Kit Ad Network (or SKAd Network) for ad attribution at an aggregate level. It’s also worth noting that an AppsFlyer survey of apps that were early adopters of ATT showed results that were higher than some predictions, with an overall 39% opt-in rate (weighted average).

But as the CEO of a mobile product consultancy, I’d like to focus on the opportunities available to marketers following these mobile privacy updates, because now more than ever, it’s crucial that your apps are exceptionally user friendly and high quality.

Steps To Take

Take advantage of the pop up

Apps can make a case for why users should allow the IDFA—this is a place to emphasize how allowing tracking will enhance their experience. Take advantage of additional screens to offer transparency into the tracking process and build an honest relationship with your app users.

At an All Things Digital conference in 2010, Apple’s own Steve Jobs said, “I believe people are smart and some people want to share more data than other people do. Ask them. Ask them every time. Make them tell you to stop asking them if they get tired of your asking them. Let them know precisely what you’re going to do with their data.” That notion still holds true today. It’s also a great idea to A/B test and retest the data request screen, see what aspects resonate with consumers and use those results to inform future business and privacy decisions.

Leverage first-party data

Brands should start to collect more first-party data and personalize consumers’ experiences within their apps. Being in the industry for 10 years, I’ve noticed that personalization often takes a back seat to acquisition. Anecdotally, I get the most ads from brands that I already engage with frequently. Maybe instead of showing me an ad, they could personalize my experience both in the app and at other touchpoints to ensure I keep coming back. The same applies to in-app campaigns.

Considered and personalized activations that offer some value to the user are more likely to create retention. For example, say I’m using a real estate app to find an apartment in Brooklyn. They could send me emails with news about the neighborhoods I’m interested in, show me in-app content about pricing trends, and default my search to the neighborhoods I’d previously looked into (while still making it easy for me to change them). And then they could send me push notifications if the asking rent drops on an apartment I’ve favored—making it easier for me to act fast in the competitive New York real estate market.

Make your apps more discoverable — use App Clips

Before all of the buzz around iOS 14.5, there was iOS 14, which introduced App Clips—an excellent solution for businesses to acquire new users that puts the actual app experience in the spotlight. An App Clip is a small part of your app that appears organically and at moments of need throughout users’ day-to-day lives. Users are offered a full app download after they’ve experienced partial functionality through the App Clip. App Clips can help with conversion, reach, and, importantly, customer satisfaction. They have valuable use cases in every industry, from finance to industrial product supply to music—really any app that would benefit from lowering its barrier to entry.

The above steps will help your brand adjust not only to Apple’s most recent mobile privacy changes, but will also put you in a forward-thinking mindset, as this most recent round of privacy updates will certainly not be the last.

Mobile Privacy Moving Forward

Consumers don’t like the fact that their personal information is being commoditized and sold without their knowledge and without them entirely understanding how the whole process works. These mobile privacy updates are a step toward changing that. And while I don’t wish to downplay the shift this will cause to advertising plans, app creators have every reason to take this as an exciting opportunity.

Test more, personalize more. Consider this a chance to double-down on what consumers appreciate and enjoy about your product and the platforms and environments in which they experience it. In short, put humanity back into the user experience.

To get the most out of your mobile marketing strategy and work with Iterable and Heady, request a demo.

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