How Brands Can Prepare for Apple iOS 14


For the media companies that were scrambling to adhere to Apple’s new guidelines under iOS 14, news of the delay of the mandatory permission request resulted in a huge sigh of relief. I think the biggest sigh came from Facebook. 

However, this is not Apple backing down. They are merely giving publishers and developers more time to prepare. But are media brands the only ones who must worry about the privacy changes in iOS 14? Of course not! As we know, everything in the ad-tech space is so intertwined that any shift in policy or practice creates a butterfly effect within the entire industry. 

In this case, Apple is a very large butterfly. App publishers have been trying to get their ducks in a row in order to comply and function with the new system, from writing their privacy disclosures to updating their SDK and .plist files. This time around, no one is trying to skirt the terms and services, lest they get banned like Fortnite or risk their revenue dropping for lack of SKAdNetwork attribution.

Consider the fact that many brands are mobile publishers, too. Even 10 years ago, more than 90% of the world’s top 100 brands had mobile apps. Now that Covid-19 has catalyzed the need for app-driven experiences like contactless shopping, verticals such as retail and health are leading the charge for even more branded apps. Food ordering and delivery have also increased, so brands like Burger King and TGIFriday’s have seen a surge in users, sessions and mobile-transacted revenue.

If you work for a brand, the chances that you have a proprietary app—or even several—are high. A gaming publisher like Rovio has a user acquisition team that works closely with its developers and monetization teams. They know who to turn to on an organizational level to get these changes into the app to support campaigns.

As a marketer, it’s important to ease consumers into a decision or conversion.

But Walgreens? Domino’s? Cigna? Sam’s Club? These are traditional, offline brands that added mobile to their lineup later, and may find they have a disconnect when it comes to app management and performance marketing—often farming out development to their ad agency, which might in turn farm that out to an app developer. 

The first question you must ask now is, “Who owns this?” Whether it’s a single person or an entire department, there must be an entity that cares the most about what these updates mean for your mobile app strategy. Once your in-house resources have been identified, consider working with outside developers to make the appropriate updates. If you grow your app through advertising, follow Apple’s SKAdnetwork instructions.

The most important component, though, is the collection of user data. It’s imperative to publish a privacy disclosure in your app description, stating exactly what you collect and why. 

Prepare for that opt-in/out modal to start popping up in 2021 by running tests that communicate to your users why you want them to opt-in. As a marketer, it’s important to ease consumers into a decision or conversion. This is what the big gaming companies are doing now to convince their users to opt-in once the time comes. A little communication now can go a long way later when Apple finally does push the green button on their IDFA-collection feature in iOS 14. 
Speaking of opt-in and user data collection, brand advertisers will also need to shift to other ways of capturing user info, such as email collection. Proprietary, opt-in first-party data will be your most valuable asset, and in some cases, brand apps have a much clearer value prop for asking for this information from consumers. 

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