Mobile Advertising Is Getting Ready for a Major Re-Boot. Will It Come Back Stronger?

In case you haven’t been paying attention, 2021 is going to be the year that mobile advertising dies. Or improves. Or just changes a bit.

It depends on how you look at it. And whose “side” you are on. The impact will be differently felt by brands, hardware platforms, adtech firms, consumers, and – of course – developers.

The impact of what, exactly?

Simply, Apple’s decision to make big changes to its Identifier for Advertisers.

A quick explainer: The IDFA is a unique identifier that lives inside the iPhone. When a mobile ad firm gains access to the IDFA, it can then track the user’s activity. Armed with this info, it can analyze the results to see how successful its clients’ campaigns are. Then it can personalize future ad campaigns to make them more successful.

So, obviously, the IDFA sits at the heart of how mobile advertising currently works. It’s the industry’s “hydrocarbon” as one expert put it.

It has powered a market that was worth $91.52 billion in 2020 in the US alone.

But Apple doesn’t seem too worried about that. Instead, it has decided that its users’ privacy comes first. 

So, from around Easter, Apple will make the IDFA opt-in only. In other words, any app developer (and adtech partner) that wants access to the IDFA must receive active consent from the user. Currently, the user must actively opt-out.

Well, maybe everyone will just give consent, right?

Very unlikely. Apple didn’t raise hopes of too many opt-ins when it created a sample dialog pop-up for developers, which read: “(This app) would like permission to track you across apps and websites owned by other companies.”

Not very inviting. No wonder industry observers speculated that 90 percent of all users would click ‘no thanks’.

Needless to say, Apple’s competitors were dismayed. Facebook reacted with fury. It stands to lose serious money from the move, which it said is ‘about profit, not privacy’.

One high-profile analyst described the move as being “like an earthquake…a massive shakeup.”

And then the numbers started to get crunched. Earlier this month, Market watcher Omdia estimated that the change to IDFA would wipe 17 percent off the value of the iOS in-app ad market in 2021.

By now, you’re probably wondering why this blog post is paying so much attention to an iOS issue when Calldorado only works in an Android context.

Well, obviously, there’s the short-term knock-on effect to consider. There could be a boost. After all, it’s possible some advertisers will assign more budget to Android apps, knowing they can still personalize their campaigns on the platform.

Longer-term, there’s the obvious question: will Google do the same as Apple?

At the time of writing, the company had not made any changes to the Google advertising ID (GAID). However, in the past, Google has fallen into line when Apple has made privacy-led policy changes.

There have been reports that the company is talking internally about revising GAID – though it’s unlikely Google would go as far as Apple.

However, there’s little doubt that the public is losing its patience with excessive behavioral tracking, and that the mobile advertising industry needs to look at new ideas.

In fact, Google is already making significant changes to its ad systems on the desktop. Last year, it announced it was phasing out support for third-party cookies in its Chrome web browser – following similar moves by Mozilla’s Firefox and Apple’s Safari.

It set up a project called the “Privacy Sandbox” to test ideas that will keep advertising relevant and personal without intrusive tracking.

So far, it’s made a lot of noise about interest-based advertising. This uses a tech called Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) to cluster people into large groups with similar interests. The approach “hides individuals in the crowd” and uses on-device processing to keep a person’s web history private on the browser.

Google has tested the concept and is pleased with the results. It says advertisers can expect to see “at least 95 percent of the conversions per dollar spent when compared to cookie-based advertising”.

Other ideas include the Trust Token API that helps distinguish authentic traffic from bots/fraudsters without exposing people’s identities in the process.

According to Bloomberg, some of the upcoming privacy controls planned for Chrome “could inform how Google develops an anti-tracking measure for Android.”

Obviously, we’re watching developments closely at Calldorado. 

The main benefit of the Calldorado Caller SDK is that it helps app developers and publishers like you to improve your user engagement rates.

The SDK displays extra information about your app on the call information screen. Your user sees this information after making, receiving, or missing a phone call. That’s a lot of opportunities to help them engage.

And when they engage, they will view your in-app ads. This will impact your revenues.

What’s more, the Caller SDK can also display personalized, non-intrusive advertising on the call information screen. Typically, the ads will appear at the bottom of the screen below information about the call. The ads are visible but not intrusive. They are shown during a natural break in the native user experience. It’s how we have great CTRs.

You get paid for these ad views. And this new revenue is entirely on top of any extra you earn from your existing in-app ads. Read more about how the Caller SDK can boost your app income here.

Tim Green

Tim Green


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