How iOS 6 and Apple’s IFA affects mobile advertising and app developers
MoPub had a great post on Friday about how iOS 6 and Apple’s identifierForAdvertising (IFA) will affect mobile advertising.
For some background, since the early days of iOS, app developer advertisers have used the Unique Device Identifier (UDID) to track app installs from their ad network (AdMob, Millenial Media, iAds, etc.) and publisher partners. UDIDs are a way for advertisers to accurately attribute which partner that user came from. For many app developers, the UDID is crucial because they can effectively measure their ad spends and optimize to their best performing partners based on their Cost-Per-Install, or CPI.
The vast majority of app developers are now using UDID, even though back in March Apple started rejecting apps that were using a UDID. Turns out it was only a few apps and then Apple turned a blind eye, so developers continued using them.
The problem with UDID is that it’s not the best solution for privacy reasons. See, the UDID is tied to the device itself (hence the name) so it cannot be changed or reset by users. As privacy advocates argue, the more these UDIDs get passed around, the more data points could be gathered to potentially tie them to personally identifiable information.
(Note: Pandora does not use UDIDs due to privacy and legal concerns.)
The good news for users and privacy advocates is that Apple is now acting. As MoPub points out, Apple has finally created a new standard, identifierForAdvertising (IFA), with an opt-out mechanism:
“With the GM build of iOS6 released yesterday, our engineers discovered that there is now an opt-out mechanism for the IFA that’s controlled in the user settings. The option is called “Limit Advertising,” and enabling this allows the user to avoid any potential re-targeting or audience-targeted advertising buys. This is a huge step forward for user privacy and we are thrilled that Apple has included it in the platform in this release. Similar to how a browser offers the ability to clear cookies and reject third-party cookies, this makes the IFA a fully privacy compliant mechanism for powering a lot of the sophisticated advertising approaches we see proliferating in desktop.”
This is huge news for app developers and the entire mobile app advertising ecosystem.
I hope that other networks and publishers act quickly and adopt the IFA. Certainly there will be a transition period as users upgrade to iOS 6, but hopefully in the near future the entire mobile industry will use IFAs as the standard and we can drop UDIDs once and for all.