The Age of App Tracking Transparency is Upon Us

By Nick Meisner, Business Development Director

Published: May 5, 2021

There’s a cold war brewing. If you’re curious tech-nerds like us, you may have noticed. Otherwise, it may have passed over you like a poorly-targeted search ad. 

The Tech Faceoff

Late last year, Apple announced the impending release of its updated operating system, iOS 14. Usually, there aren’t many major user experience updates. The clock icon might change or they may offer new background options. Like all updates, the major changes are behind the scenes. Hidden within the user agreements. 

This time, the hidden updates have bubbled into public debate, mostly because it hinders some major players’ (like Facebook) ability to serve their customers. Not users, customers. The small, medium and large businesses who pay to advertise on their apps. 

The sticking point: Apple’s decision to implement “App Tracking Transparency” in iOS 14.5. The new and polarizing feature highlights two corners of the tech world who are as different as apples and Facebook. 

The Players

You have “Team Free Internet.” They believe that the internet is an open, free, information-sharing platform. Available to everyone at no cost. Users who engage in the internet should be aware of the risks. And if they want their favorite sites to be free of charge, they shouldn’t mind their data being used to target their interests. 

The challenger is “Team Privacy.” They believe that all users have the right to privacy. They see advertisers’ use of data as a predatory mechanism to influence buying decisions. Regardless of business impact and user experience, privacy should be placed at the top of our priority list. 

Really, both corners care about one thing: their bottom line. Apple’s consumers clamor for privacy. So they are delivering. Facebook’s customers call for effective advertising. So they are fighting back. 

The Impact

Though the two major players in this internet cold war are Facebook and Apple, the decision to implement App Tracking Transparency will have far-reaching implications for all digital advertisers. 

As we always say at Envano, let’s put ourselves in the customer’s shoes.

*Insert time warp screen and sci-fi music*

You’re a marketing director at a major company that manufactures and sells organic baby food and children’s snacks. You know your customer. They’re typically 28-49 years old, female, eco-conscious, health-minded and married. You can find them living in the suburbs of major metropolitan areas with a household income of more than $150,000. They also enjoy visiting  sites like mommy blogs, fashion retailers and fitness blogs and asking Alexa for recipe hacks.

Good, the baseline is set. You’ll be able to target that audience on Facebook, Twitter, Google, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.

As of today, these networks can track those consumer data points and demographics from app to app to create a consumer profile through cookies. That’s what allows advertising platforms to find the needle in the haystack: your target audience. They can deliver ads to their targets based on their place in the consumer journey. They can even tell if an item is left in their cart on their site and place display ads that remind them about the item. 

But that could come to a screeching halt and impact your business. Why? Once Apple introduces this new privacy feature, users will be asked if they want to allow their data to be accessed by advertisers via a highly visible pop-up message upon updating or using an app for the first time. If they opt out, all of that user data will be unavailable to advertising platforms and social networks. Sure, you’ll still be able to use the data gathered from the native app (i.e., all the information your customer puts on Facebook). But we won’t be able to gain insights from their interactions with other apps, leaving tons of data behind. 

What’s Next, What Should You Do?

That’s where we come in. Our digital marketing experts at Envano can help guide you through big changes like this. We’ll monitor and learn from this new world. It will be critical to monitor your conversion rates and ad interaction, as these are the most important and likely impacted KPIs of this change. We’ll need to get creative with your targeting and find a way to find them through the noise. 

Give us a call or complete the form below for a free consultation with our digital advertising experts. We’ll talk through what this means for your efforts moving forward and how we can create an effective strategy for your brand.