We recently blogged about a consumer privacy feature being built into iOS14.3, Apple’s latest operating system. As widely reported, under iOS14.3, users of iPhones will now need to agree to allow a business to collect information about them – known as an opt-in policy (in Apple’s words, app tracking transparency, or ATT). This imminent change has triggered a spat with Facebook. The world’s largest social network is upset because its advertisers will have a harder time tracking its users off Facebook and serve up personalized ads to them. And now Google has weighed in on iOS14.3.
In a January 27 blog post, Christophe Combette, Google Group Product Manager, Google Ads, wrote:
Apple’s ATT changes will reduce visibility into key metrics that show how ads drive conversions (like app installs and sales) and will affect how advertisers value and bid on ad impressions. As such, app publishers may see a significant impact to their Google ad revenue on iOS after Apple’s ATT policies take effect.
He recommends that developers to upgrade to version 7.64 of the Google Mobile Ads SDK for new features like SKAdNetwork support.
He also encourages advertisers to monitor the performance and delivery of all iOS App campaigns — and, if necessary, make adjustments to budgets and bids to achieve their goals.
How Will Google Advertisers Be Affected?
Now, it’s helpful to consider his post in context of how Google makes ad revenue. Google makes most of its ad revenue from people searching on Google and being served up ads alongside search results. It is unlikely that advertisers will see a performance drop from search ads on Google.
But advertisers using the Google Display Network may see an impact on their ad performance. That’s because the Google Display Network encompasses a vast collection of websites, including specific Google websites like Gmail, and YouTube, that show ads. This network also includes mobile sites and apps. If iPhone users decide they don’t want apps on the Google Display Network tracking them, then advertisers using those networks may see declines in performance because they won’t be able to track user behavior and serve up more personalized ads.
What Advertisers Should Do
No one knows for sure when ATT takes effect – there’s a lot of speculation that it will happen in March 2021. In the meantime, we suggest that advertisers:
- Prepare your app for iOS14.3. Google has published detailed steps here.
- If you use Google Analytics, be aware that Google recommends advertisers upgrade to the latest version of Google Analytics for Firebase for new features like SKAdNetwork support.
- Watch for Google to develop new tools to help advertisers personalized content as third-party cookies on the Google Chrome browser go away. Although the demise of third-party cookies on Chrome precedes Apple’s ATT, it’s a sign of more privacy controls to come. Be aware.
If you work with an agency to manage your advertising on Google, ask them how they are preparing.