At WWDC 2020, Apple announced some significant changes for iOS 14, namely in the use and management of Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA). In an effort to give iOS users more control over how their data is collected, the forthcoming iOS update will provide Limiting Ad Tracking (LAT) on an app-by-app basis—requiring users to opt-in if they would like to keep their IDFA active.
While these changes do make a huge impact on the way advertising data is collected and attributed, we’d like to address how this change impacts Sensor Tower. To put it simply, IDFA changes do not affect Sensor Tower’s accuracy or functionality in any material way.
Still, there are some nuances that would be best explained in detail. Below are a few answers to some frequently asked questions. We hope this gives you a better understanding of how we’ve built a workflow that delivers accurate data to our platform while respecting a user’s need for privacy.
How is Apple Changing IDFA?
IDFA is an anonymized data element developed by Apple that is designed to stand separately from Device IDs in order to better serve ad tracking without compromising personally identifiable information (PII). Every iOS user is given a unique IDFA tag that separates their behavior from features that would make them identifiable through data collection. This user-level data is critical for a lot of mobile tech, including but not limited to mobile attribution and retargeting platforms.
iOS 14 will require all users to opt-in to IDFA tracking for every app, and administer strong language that many experts fear will strongly discourage users from participating. Naturally, this has caused concern that iOS ad attribution, bidding, and retargeting data will take a significant hit as IDFA signals dip.
How Does IDFA Impact Sensor Tower?
It doesn’t at all. While Sensor Tower inadvertently does encounter IDFA, it isn’t relevant to Sensor Tower’s datasets and is actively removed.
For ad-related data, we use a multitude of data signals including our panel-based apps to infer a user’s demographics. The metadata on ad retargeting allows us to make an educated guess about the age and gender of the user. That data is then mixed in with other signals unaffected by IDFA to give a clear picture of audience demographics. While the change in IDFA impacts things like attribution and retargeting, the limited datasets Sensor Tower works with do not affect the overall reliability of our intelligence as a whole since it is only a small part of the larger equation.
In short, the IDFA change doesn’t impact data signals that contribute to our Usage Intelligence, and because we collect similar data from other sources we do not expect any impact to the current accuracy of our demographic estimates.
Additionally, users of Ad Intelligence are unlikely to see much, if any, change in the platform as attribution and CPM aren’t tracked within the platform.
We currently do not foresee any elements of our Product Roadmap that will be impacted by this change, and we will be assessing the impact of this update at the network level once it’s released in September.
Work in Progress
With the update not arriving until September, there is still a measure of unknowns about how this change will impact the broader mobile landscape. However, we have confidence that we will still be able to collect important data about mobile usage behavior while respecting the privacy, safety, and security of users.
If you have any questions about our panel-based apps, or how we incorporate data into our Usage product with an eye towards maximizing accuracy and safety, please contact our sales team.