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Power the growth of your mobile game in the significantly altered post-IDFA
world. SuperScale’s engineers, analysts and growth solutions experts can help
your brand gain industry-leading ROAS visibility post-IDFA.
IDFA stands for ‘identifier for advertisers’. It’s a random device identifier that Apple assigns to every user’s device. In turn, advertisers can use a device’s IDFA to track data relating to a user, enabling the delivery of customized advertising.
When introduced in 2012, IDFA was instrumental in app marketers’ measurement of advertising performance as it allowed access to various engagement metrics associated with a specific device. Essentially, IDFA can be seen as Apple’s equivalent of tracking cookies but for mobile games.
With IDFA, advertisers could previously access the behavioral data that assists the delivery of personalized ads. It also allowed for improved retargeting on the basis of users’ past actions and made high-value players easier to find – something which is crucial when growing mobile games.
Even before the debut of iOS 14.5, changes were afoot for IDFA. Beginning with the iOS 14.5 update in 2021, Apple put in place a new privacy framework, known as App Tracking Transparency, or ATT.
Central to this change was IDFA ceasing to be a default feature of the operating system. Instead of the feature being enabled by default, mobile app publishers now needed to get device users to ‘opt-in’ to have their device identifier accessed and be tracked. This, along with a general increase in awareness of organizations tracking consumer data, led to mass ‘opt-outs’, leaving the mobile gaming industry blindsided.
With the launch of iOS 14.5, Apple addressed a complaint from app developers and publishers, announcing that it had its own form of personalized ads that were not subject to the same safeguards. It did this by seeking iOS 14.5 users’ permission to allow the personalized advertising that Apple serves in three places across its own pre-loaded apps: in the App Store, and in its News and Stocks apps.
Apple gave advertisers another source of respite with iOS 14.5: it enabled them to get data on postbacks, or mobile app install validations, directly from Apple’s SKAdNetwork, without the need to go through a registered ad network. In other words, advertisers can now be alerted directly by SKAdNetwork when one of their ads leads to an install or successful conversion.
SKAdNetwork is Apple’s privacy-friendly attribution API for mobile app downloads. Also referred to as ‘SKAN’, it is the only attribution solution in the Apple ecosystem in the case of devices that haven’t opted into the IDFA.
Although SKAN does attribute mobile app installs to an ad campaign, it doesn’t reveal any user-level or device-level data. Overall, it is a limited solution that doesn’t help much with measuring retention or lifetime values, or tracking user behavior.
The need for an explicit ‘opt-in’ from the user – either at the time the given app is downloaded, or whenever the next update is rolled out – has upended much of the digital marketing world. It has been likened to Apple hitting the reset button on game advertising. Publishers have been left with more limited and less granular data on their players.
The amount of demographic data that can now be accessed has also been greatly limited, as has information on CPIs and numbers of installs. The changes make it harder for advertisers to accurately attribute their ad spend across various ad campaigns and ad networks. User acquisition spend suffers, and ad monetization is compromised.
While IDFA is not gone, its value for mobile advertisers and developers has diminished. This underlines the importance of advertisers seeking out alternative ways of gathering and understanding user data, and of publishers formulating effective strategies for those users they cannot convince to ‘opt-in’ to tracking.
SuperScale can help your mobile game achieve sustained growth in a post-IDFA world.
Our SuperInsights predictive dashboards turn advanced modeling into user-friendly visualizations – including metrics such as predictive ROAS and LTV (post-IDFA), additionally, they are SKAN, GAID or Web3 enabled as per the requirement.