How Apple Will Grow Its Advertising Business

How Apple Will Grow Its Advertising Business

Apple

Apple changed the advertising industry when the company launched an important privacy control in 2021, Application Tracking Transparency (ATT).  ATT asks iPhone users to decide whether apps can track them across other applications and websites. After the introduction of ATT, 62 percent of iPhone users opted out.

This has created a problem for advertisers and ad tech platforms such as Meta that rely on the ability to track user behavior across the web in order to serve up targeted ads to them. Without tracking user behavior via third-party cookies, their ads are less personalized. Meta said that ATT would cost the firm $10 billion in revenue in 2022. Apple, for its part, justified the new privacy control as taking a stand for consumer privacy.

Well, we now know Apple had something else in mind with ATT: taking a stand for Apple’s advertising business.

As Bloomberg reported recently, Apple is now earning $4 billion in revenue annually by selling ads on its devices, and the company plans to grow that amount aggressively. Granted, $4 billion is a far cry from the $209 billion that Google pulled down from advertising in 2021, but Apple’s newfound focus on ads sure casts its consumer privacy push in a different light.

How Does Apple Earn Ad Revenue?

Apple makes money selling ads on spaces that people see all the time on their iPhones and connected TVs as they navigate their screens to download apps, read the news, and watch content. Those include:

  • The App Store, as shown here:

Apple Ads

  • Apple’s own News and Stocks apps.

The additional ad revenue will come from:

  • The Today tab (the home page of the home page of the App Store, which includes content ranging from App of the Day to Game of the Day).
  • The You Might Also Like section of the App Store (this is found at the bottom of the App Store).
  • Third-party app download pages.

Does ATT Apply to Apple?

How will Apple sell targeted ads? By collecting first-party data, meaning the information that users of Apple devices cough up to Apple whenever they use the App Store, News and Stock apps, and so on. And, by the way, Apple will not make it easy for users to opt out of having their data tracked. You can disable the ad personalization feature, but you have to look for it under Apple Advertising in the settings app’s Privacy & Security menu. There is no pop-up menu asking you if you’d like to have tracking disabled as is the case with ATT, as shown below:privacy noticeBut shouldn’t ATT also apply to Apple? Not in Apple’s view. According to Bloomberg:

You may ask then, why don’t Apple apps have to ask permission to track users via a pop-up message? That’s what happens with other apps under ATT.

The reason, Apple says, is that the system “does not follow you across apps and websites owned by other companies.” That’s what ATT is designed to prevent. If a third-party app doesn’t track across outside apps and websites, it also doesn’t need to show a pop-up.

The “we are exempt from our own policy” rationale is how Google justifies its plans to kill third-party cookies on the Chrome browser. Google apps such as YouTube are exempt because technically they collect first-party data, not third-party data.

It’s easy to connect the dots and see what’s going on here: by attacking third-party cookie tracking, Apple bolsters its own ad program, which relies on first-party data collection.

Apple’s ad business is far too small to threaten the lead enjoyed by Amazon, Google, and Meta. But Apple has the muscle and money to grow its business quickly. ATT was a declaration of war.

What Advertisers Should Do

  • Understand the big picture. There is no going back: tech firms such as Apple and Google are undercutting the value of third-party cookies. Accept the reality that as third-party cookies crumble and technology companies enact privacy controls, your ads will be less targeted than they were. This does not mean you should stop advertising online. Online advertising remains the most efficient and cost-effective way to reach your audience. At the same time, first-party data is more valuable than ever to advertisers as a means to creating targeted ads. Consider ad platforms such as Amazon Advertising and Walmart Connect, which give businesses entrée to a vast base of customers who search and shop on Amazon and Walmart. True Interactive offers services on both platforms in addition to our longstanding work on Google, Bing, and other platforms. Learn more about our services with Amazon Ads here and Walmart here. Apple and Google cannot undercut what these companies are doing.

True Interactive can help you navigate the ever changing world of consumer privacy and advertising.

Contact True Interactive

To succeed with online advertising, contact True Interactive. Read about some of our client work here.

Lead image source: https://pixabay.com/photos/apple-inc-mac-apple-store-store-508812/

 

 

 

Google Firebase: A Workaround for Apple’s Privacy Controls

Google Firebase: A Workaround for Apple’s Privacy Controls

Apple Google Privacy

Apple’s Application Tracking Transparency (ATT) privacy control has caused understandable alarm among businesses that rely on mobile to create personalized advertising. But advertising agencies and their clients are figuring out workarounds. One of them is Firebase. Here’s a quick overview:

The Fallout of Apple ATT

Apple’s ATT is a consumer privacy control that Apple rolled out with an update to Apple’s operating system in 2021. ATT requires apps to get a user’s permission before tracking their data across apps owned by other companies for advertising, or sharing their data with data brokers. Apps can prompt users for permission, and in Apple Settings, users will be able to see which apps have requested permission to track so they can make changes to their choice at any time.

Advertisers have feared that ATT will trigger an uptick in users opting out to having their behavior tracked. Consequently, advertisers will have a harder time serving up targeted ads because they cannot track user behavior. This concern is well founded. As many as 96 percent of users in the United States are opting out of having their behavior tracked. A number of businesses are shifting their ad budgets to the Google Android operating system and away from Apple’s iOS.

Others are trying to find workarounds. And this is where Firebase comes into play.

How Firebase Works

Firebase is Google’s mobile, cloud-based platform that helps users quickly develop apps. People and businesses can use Firebase to accomplish a variety of tasks, such as accelerating app development and test the performance of apps, including A/B testing. Businesses can integrate Firebase with Google’s Android operating system, iOS, and the web. This Venture Beat article delves into more detail (probably more than an advertiser needs to know), and Google provides context as well.

Firebase becomes really interesting to advertisers for this reason: with Google Analytics for Firebase, a business can export its mobile app data (iOS and Android) to a Google-hosted data warehouse known as BigQuery. From there, a business can match behavior via Google User-ID, a feature that lets a user or business associate a persistent ID for a single user (with that user’s engagement data from one or more sessions initiated from one or more devices).

By contrast, before the era of ATT, an advertisers would have access to mobile device IDs for Android and iOS environments. The advertiser could download device IDs from Apple iOS. Then the advertiser could target different people directly with personalized ads – at scale. That’s because the advertiser would have access to those individual device IDs from app analytics accounts. But you cannot do that with Apple ATT anymore.

Firebase does not track mobile device IDs, per se. Rather, Firebase creates audiences inside Firebase based on user events, such as a person registering to use an app, installing it, or making a purchase on the app. With Firebase, the advertiser downloads that audience transaction data through the dashboard the advertiser uses to create Google ads. (For more detail, check out this article, which delves into the mechanics of managing data on Firebase to understand user behavior across apps.)

We have been using Firebase to support clients’ mobile ad campaigns, and we are seeing results. For one client, we’ve seen an increase in revenue by up to 7 percent over the past six months while cutting ad spend in half.

It’s important for True Interactive to continue delivering excellent results through online advertising. We’re actively monitoring our clients’ advertising performance results as we assess the impact of ATT. Yes, the world is changing. But as you can see from our client experiences with Firebase, an increased privacy control does not mean the end of effective advertising.

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To achieve results with online advertising, contact True Interactive. We’ve been helping our clients enjoy measurable results as these case studies show.  We’re happy to collaborate with you.

Why Facebook’s Ad Business Will Take a Hit — and What Advertisers Should Do

Why Facebook’s Ad Business Will Take a Hit — and What Advertisers Should Do

Apple Facebook Uncategorized

On September 22, Facebook made an unusual announcement well ahead of its third-quarter earnings, which won’t be shared until late October. In a blog post, Facebook indicated that its third-quarter results will take a hit because of the impact of Apple’s increased privacy controls. Let’s take a look at the news and what it means.

What Facebook Announced

  • Facebook confirmed that for the third quarter, the company’s advertising business will take a financial hit because of the impact of Apple’s Application Tracking Transparency (ATT), which went into effect in 2021 with a recent iOS update on users’ personal devices.
  • Under ATT, users are asked to give apps permission to track their behavior on their Apple devices. Facebook needs Apple users to give apps permission to track their behavior; Facebook has built a thriving advertising business based on its ability serve up targeted ads to iOS users based on their behavior off Facebook. But as many as 96 percent of users in the United States are opting out of having their behavior tracked.
  • In a blog post, Graham Mudd, vice president of Product Marketing, Facebook, wrote, “As we noted during our earnings call in July, we expected increased headwinds from platform changes, notably the recent iOS updates, to have a greater impact in the third quarter compared to the second quarter. We know many of you are experiencing this greater impact as we are.”
  • Mudd also said that Facebook underreported iOS web conversions by approximately 15 percent. “We believe that real world conversions, like sales and app installs, are higher than what is being reported for many advertisers,” he wrote.

What Facebook’s Announcement Means

  • Facebook’s war with Apple will intensify. Apple could find ways to impose even more privacy controls.
  • More advertisers will bolt to the Android operating system and take their ad business to Google.
  • Facebook will be forced to become more transparent to ad partners about its ad performance, especially after admitting that the company underreported iOS web conversions.
  • Facebook will probably devise more ways to mine first-party data from its own platform and Instagram to sell ad space.

What Advertisers Should Do

  • Consider tapping into your own first-party data more effectively to create ads (and True Interactive can help you do so). For example, collect more first-party data by using cookies to understand who visits your site; or run a promotion that collects email addresses. Collect purchase data if applicable to your site.
  • Consider relying on advertising platforms such as Amazon and apps such as Snapchat and TikTok that have strengthened their own ad products through their own proprietary first-party data.
  • Watch for the emergence of new tools and approaches. Apple’s ATT will inspire the emergence of workaround tools as well as approaches for developing personalized content. This is happening already as Google adopts privacy controls.
  • Review Facebook’s advice for how to analyze your performance and adapt your ad strategies on Facebook (or ask your agency partner to do so for you). Mudd provided some detailed steps to take in his post.
  • Consider negotiating more favorable rates for your ad account with Facebook if your performance is dropping but you still want to work with Facebook.
  • Don’t panic and change your ad strategy completely. This situation is still evolving.

At True Interactive, we’re doing the heavy lifting to help our clients navigate these changes. Bottom line: be ready to adapt.

Contact True Interactive

To succeed with online advertising, contact True Interactive. Read about some of our client work here.

The Impact of Apple’s New iOS Privacy Controls

The Impact of Apple’s New iOS Privacy Controls

Apple

Earlier in 2021, Apple tightened privacy controls through an update to its iOS operating system. The news created alarm among advertisers and ad platforms (notably, Facebook) who said they believe Apple is hurting their ability to serve up effective and relevant advertising. So, what’s happened since then? Let’s take a closer look at the aftermath of Apple’s controversial decision.

Apple Announces Application Tracking Transparency

The privacy control that Apple launched is known as Application Tracking Transparency (ATT). ATT requires apps to get the user’s permission before tracking their data across apps or websites owned by other companies for advertising, or sharing their data with data brokers. Apps can prompt users for permission, and in Settings, users will be able to see which apps have requested permission to track so they can make changes to their choice at any time.

When Apple previewed ATT in 2020, Facebook led an angry protest from advertisers who were upset that the new opt-in program would result in plunging ad revenues and less relevant advertising resulting from a loss of personalization. Facebook argued that ATT would be unfair to the many small businesses that rely on Facebook.

The Impact of Application Tracking Transparency

So, what has happened since ATT went live? So far, here are the major developments:

  • Users reject tracking. As many as 96 percent of users in the United States are opting out of having their behavior tracked. Those high opt-out rates out do not kill advertising at all. In fact, businesses that have amassed proprietary first-party user data should continue to provide relevant ads. But businesses that rely on tracking behavior across the web will need to accept the reality that their ads are less targeted.
  • Advertisers flee Apple. Many advertisers are not waiting to discern the potential impact of ATT. According to The Wall Street Journal, prices for mobile ads directed at iOS users have fallen, while ad prices have risen for advertisers seeking to target Android users. That’s because a number of businesses are shifting their ad budgets to the Google Android operating system and away from Apple’s iOS. This shift does not affect Apple because Apple collects no ad revenue from third-party iOS apps. We do not yet know how Google may benefit from the shift (and Google does rely on ad revenue heavily).
  • No impact on Facebook – so far. Facebook announced its second-quarter 2021 earnings on July 28. The company’s ad revenues showed no sign of slowing down and beat Wall Street expectations: $29.08 billion, vs. $27.89 billion as expected by analysts, according to Refinitiv. Facebook said advertising revenue growth in the second quarter of 2021 was driven by a 47 percent year-over-year increase in the average price per ad and a 6 percent increase in the number of ads delivered. But Facebook has not backed off from its position that ATT is going to hurt the company and advertisers. The company lowered is earnings outlook for the third quarter partly because the company believes ATT’s impact has yet to be felt. In its earnings announcement, Facebook said, “We continue to expect increased ad targeting headwinds in 2021 from regulatory and platform changes, notably the recent iOS updates, which we expect to have a greater impact in the third quarter compared to the second quarter.”
  • Twitter shrugs off ATT. Twitter, like Facebook, says it has not been affected by ATT (so far). In its latest quarterly earnings, Twitter showed robust revenue growth. Twitter also said that the impact of ATT was lower than expected. And Twitter is more optimistic about the potential impact of ATT going forward. In its earnings announcement, Twitter said, “We continue to expect total revenue to grow faster than expenses in 2021 — assuming the global pandemic continues to improve and that we continue to see modest impact from the rollout of changes associated with iOS 14.5.”

What Advertisers Should Do

  • Examine your ad performance. Examine the effectiveness of your advertising on iOS. Have you lost your ability to bid on ads because of users opting out of being tracked? Is your ad performance actually slipping? If you work with an agency to manage your ads, ask them for a complete report. And then examine your performance throughout 2021. If you see a noticeable slide, then adapting your spend to Android may make sense, but if your performance is only marginally affected, remember that your competitors are probably experiencing the same outcome.
  • Consider tapping into your own first-party data more effectively to create ads (and True Interactive can help you do so). For example, collect more first-party data by using cookies to understand who visits your site; or run a promotion that collects email addresses. Collect purchase data if applicable to your site.
  • Consider relying on advertising platforms such as Amazon and apps such as Snapchat that have strengthened their own ad products through their own proprietary first-party data.
  • If you rely heavily on Facebook as an ad partner, heed Facebook’s detailed advice for adapting to ATT (or ask your agency partner to do so).

At True Interactive, we’re doing the heavy lifting to help our clients navigate these changes. Bottom line: be ready to adapt. But don’t panic.

Contact True Interactive

To succeed with online advertising, contact True Interactive. Read about some of our client work here.

Photo by Zhiyue Xu on Unsplash

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Apple Announces New Privacy Features,” Mark Smith.

The Facebook Spat with Apple: Advertiser Q&A,” Taylor Hart.

Google Responds to Apple’s App Tracking Transparency,” Taylor Hart.

 

Apple Announces New Privacy Features

Apple Announces New Privacy Features

Apple

Apple has once again made some moves to make the internet more private. At its 2021 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple announced new features intended to give consumers more control over how businesses interact with them. Let’s take a closer look.

What Privacy Controls Did Apple Announce at WWDC?

Apple announced that later in 2021, the company will roll out new features to help people control how their online data is used by third parties. They include:

  • Allowing people to disable the ability of marketers to see if and when an email is opened via Apple’s Mail app.
  • Making it possible for people to hide their internet protocol (IP) address information in order to prevent businesses from tracking web usage on the Safari browser.

In addition, Apple indicted that premium iCloud users will be able to access the internet with a feature called Private Relay. This feature will  block network providers from using IP addresses and web usage to create a user profile for tracking.

Why Does Apple’s WWDC Announcement Matter?

The news from WWDC is the latest in a series of actions from technology giants Apple and Google to make it more difficult for businesses to track users in order to deliver personalized advertising. For instance:

  • In 2020, Google announced it would stop supporting third-party cookies on the Chrome browser. In 2021, Google toughened its stance by saying it would not support workarounds for third-party cookie tracking.
  • Apple recently launched a privacy control known as Application Tracking Transparency (ATT), which requires apps to get the user’s permission before tracking their data across apps or websites owned by other companies for advertising, or sharing their data with data brokers.

The advertising world has reacted with a mixture of concern and resignation as businesses adapt to a reality in which third-party cookies will be less useful for creating targeted advertising. In addition, Facebook has argued that Apple’s ATT will hurt small businesses that rely on Facebook’s advertising tools to create personalized content.

How Will the WWDC Announcement Affect Advertisers?

It’s really too early to say yet how advertisers will be affected by Apple’s latest announcements. For one thing, they have not been launched yet. In addition, although Safari is the second-most popular browser in the world, it lags far behind Chrome in terms of usage. On the other hand, Chrome and Safari together constitute 83 percent of the global market share for browsers. The real impact will be seen when both Google’s and Apple’s tighter restrictions take hold together. It will be interesting to see the impact of the restrictions in Apple Mail, which has the largest market share among email apps.

What Should Advertisers Do?

As I noted in a recent blog post,

  • Don’t assume targeting and personalization are dead because of the way Apple and Google are focusing on privacy. You can still use your own data to buy targeted ads on Google properties such as YouTube, Gmail, and Google Search – so long as you bring their first-party data into Google through the company’s existing Customer Match product. Moreover, as we noted in a recent blog post, if you want to use your own data to serve up targeted ads outside Google’s walls, Google is developing its own cohort-based alternative to third-party cookies to help you do that. Stay tuned for more product developments.
  • Do consider tapping into your own first-party data more effectively to create ads (and True Interactive can help you do so). For example, collect more first-party data by using cookies to understand who visits your site; or run a promotion that collects email addresses. Collect purchase data if applicable to your site.

My blog post “Google Unlocks First-Party Data for Publishers” contains more tips.

At True Interactive, we’re doing the heavy lifting to help our clients navigate these changes. Bottom line: be ready to adapt. But don’t panic.

Contact True Interactive

To succeed with online advertising, contact True Interactive. Read about some of our client work here.

Photo by Laurenz Heymann on Unsplash

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