Yesterday at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple dropped another series of privacy bombshells on the advertising industry.
Just over a month after restricting use of its Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) on mobile devices, Apple revealed that further privacy enhancing features will be rolled out on upcoming software updates to its devices. These include a native VPN, which will hide users’ IP addresses from advertisers, and an ability for users to hide their email addresses whenever they sign up to services via email.
These changes will even further restrict the data which advertisers, publishers, broadcasters and ad tech companies can use when interacting with Apple device users. But what will the impact on our industry be? Here’s the initial reaction from three industry leaders:
What Apple has done here is close the loop holes. What interests me most is the hiding of the IP address and the VPN. . This will likely have three implications – 1) it shuts the door on most fingerprinting 2) it will highly restrict tracking and targeting on connected TV – which is very IP based 3) It restricts in browser identity graph efforts in browser (not server to server).
The good news is logged in environments with server-to-server tracking and targeting will likely work as before. What this does is increase the pressure on splitting the ad market in two. The premium end of logged in environments where advanced tracking and targeting is possible. For everyone else audience targeting and tracking via third parties is essentially impossible. Publishers are going to have to find ways of onboarding data and creating advertising options themselves and passing them to advertisers they have relationships with to buy (server to server) – so called edge computing will be powerful here.
This could be considered a blow to advertising but I am optimistic, it gets rid of the worst parts of advertising and opens up opportunities for the best actors to innovate.
As Apple and Google continue their progress towards a privacy driven internet, the latest announcements from Apple are no surprise. We will likely see change across three areas:
ID Based Targeting
There will be a hit on the scale that universal ID workarounds can drive as many rely on IP addresses, email and cache data to create a unified picture of users across the internet. Match rates on first party email to media platforms will also be impacted dependent on rate of uptake on email masking.
BTL (below the line) will see a similar impact to the removal of third party cookie impression challenge in that email opens will become harder to attribute against conversions without a direct link click.
With the removal of IP addresses, expect a drop in the ability to deliver geo targeted digital ads. This will be a blow to personalisation capabilities as well as suppression of ads to non-relevant locations. A dual programme of national and regional ads should be considered to maintain reach.
Our advice at Essence remains the same. Firstly focus on building your 1st party datasets with explicit consumer consent and a clear value exchange for providing accurate 1st party data and work with publishers who do the same. Secondly, move towards a modelled vs measured approach to solve for some of the loss in data from a measurement standpoint. Finally digital teams should consider leaning further towards people based and business metrics to create tangible performance outcomes during the periods of change.
Apple’s latest announcements are set to impact the way the web operates: hiding IP addresses from publishers has massive implications in terms of web usability as such information is used for important activities like digital rights management, geo-targeting and fraud detection. We still don’t have enough information on how Private Relay will be rolled out to iCloud subscribers to understand the impact that it’s going to have on the industry, but this will bring, potentially, significant disruptions to web browsing in general.
From an identity standpoint, the Hide my Email feature could make it harder for solutions like UID2 and ATS to create and link IDs across domains, as they rely heavily on consistent email addresses. This is less of a concern for hybrid solutions combining deterministic and probabilistic approaches like ID5, especially since we have first-party relationships with publishers and so are not impacted by the “IP blindness” measure for third party trackers.
Protecting users’ privacy shouldn’t be detrimental to publishers and brands’ ability to engage in addressable advertising relationships safely and efficiently. ID5 will continue to innovate and offer privacy-compliant identification mechanisms to enable publishers to monetise audiences and brands to engage with consumers in the most scalable and efficient way possible.