What App Tracking Transparency Means For You

Apple's new App Tracking Transparency policy has caused a stir among platform holders, but what does it mean for marketing departments?


In April 2021, Apple rolled out a new system called App Tracking Transparency (ATT), allowing users to opt-in or out of having their data tracked by apps on their mobile devices. Previously, apps like Facebook have been able to track a user’s activities across not only their own apps like Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp, but also other companies’ apps, and then use that data to target you with personalised ads, all without asking your permission.

Understandably, not everyone is okay with this, prompting Apple to introduce ATT, which requires all apps to ask permission before tracking data outside of the app. Furthermore, users can also choose to opt-out completely, blocking any apps from even requesting access to their data.

The reaction to this has been surprising to some. According to data from analytics firm Flurry, just 4% of iPhone users in the US have opted into app tracking, meaning that a huge 96% of users leave app tracking disabled. It’s clear from these results that privacy and security concerns trump any added convenience of personalised ads for most users. This is bad news for small businesses that rely on tracked ads to get much-needed exposure for their brands.

One interesting thing to note is that 20% of the 10,000 apps to first introduce ATT were games. We can only speculate on the reasons for this, but one possible explanation is that game publishers understand the importance of transparency. As we’ve talked about on this blog before, gamers are arguably the most powerful audience around – they are more tuned in to the latest goings on, especially in technology, and it makes sense that games firms would be among the first to take this extra step to meet the needs and expectations of fans.

So, the big question here is – how will this affect games marketers? The first and most obvious point is that these changes are going to make it more difficult for small games projects to find their audience. Bigger titles will still be able to make use of blanket coverage and advertising outside of the mobile ecosystem, but smaller publishers should be thinking about alternative ways to reach new audiences without relying too heavily on tracking. To help us deal with this setback, we can look to one of the major oppositions to ATT – Facebook.

Facebook has released its own explainer of the changes, along with helpful advice around how marketers can prepare and mitigate some of the negative effects. Firstly, you can look at Facebook’s new measurement protocol, Aggregated Event Measurement. The platform also advises that app advertisers update to the Facebook SDK version 8.0 or above. You can then set up your conversion schema in Events Manager and create iOS 14 app install campaigns. For more information about these actions and the effects they will have, check out the full blog.

It’s clear that marketers are going to have to accept that ATT is here to stay. Over the past few years, users have gotten a lot savvier about the ways and means of tracking their activity and moreover, the techniques employed by marketers and advertisers. There’s no putting that genie back in the bottle, so those of us in the marketing space are simply going to have to adapt as we go. There are plenty of other ways to gather data and reach the right audience – you just have to know where to look.

Here at Project N we take a multifaceted and integrated approach to all of our clients and we’re always happy to help brands find their audience. Get in touch today to find out how we can help you.