What is Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT)?

Dec 12, 2021

Data privacy is the most important topic in the digital sphere right now. According to Pew Research Center, there is an evident distrust of corporate data collection practices, with 79% of Americans questioning how businesses access and use their data. And with the death of the third-party cookie quickly approaching, companies are searching for alternative means of accessing consumer data.

In 2021, Apple’s iOS 14.5 introduced the much-talked-about App Tracking Transparency (ATT) privacy feature that prevents apps from accessing the Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) without an explicit opt-in from the user.

But what exactly does this mean for businesses, and how will it impact how they target their audiences in 2022?

The Use of Mobile in the Wake of App Tracking Transparency

Before iOS 14.5, brands could use a host of tools to track user data within an app. Of course, users could opt out of IDFA-based tracking before, but the new update requires developers to request permission to track users’ data in apps using a standardized prompt. If a user declines, the developer can no longer track their data in that app.

The move by Apple to prioritize users’ data over granular marketing measurement will have a significant impact on the targeted digital advertising ecosystem on iOS devices. We are already seeing high opt-out rates. A report by Flurry Analytics shows only 21% of global iOS users have allowed apps to track them, signaling the extent to which consumers are embracing privacy. Without unique device IDs, it becomes more challenging to analyze user behavior and provide rich customer insights and data.

What Can Brands Do to Increase Opt-Ins?

Apps may choose to focus on aggregated attribution via SKAdNetwork instead of pursuing the IDFA. However, there are obvious advantages to gaining user consent. Higher opt-in rates will allow you to optimize more efficiently and leverage the tools at your disposal to build better, more personalized experiences.

So, let’s look at some strategies you can implement to maximize your opt-in rate.

Customize the purpose string in the ATT prompt

Apple sets the first piece of text in the ATT prompt, but there is scope to adapt the subheading text. It’s reasonable to assume that users who opt out do so because of uncertainty around how their data will be collected, stored, used and shared. The prompt text is an opportunity to be transparent and explain to users the value and benefits of opting in. Build trust by using language that focuses on the user rather than on your business. For example, communicate to users that opting in allows you to provide a more personalized user experience.

Inform users with a pre-ATT prompt

Before providing the ATT prompt opt-in, we recommend delivering a pre-permission prompt to your users. This message is an opportunity to provide more context around the ATT opt-in, what it means, and the enhanced value users receive from opting in. Clearly outline how you will handle user data and reassure your audience that the consent is for their benefit. Businesses that remain transparent and honest about their intentions increase the likelihood of customers sharing their data. 

Remind users with a post-ATT prompt

Even if a user declines to give their permission at the time of the prompt, they can enable (and disable) permission tracking at any time. With that in mind, you can still communicate and remind users about the benefits of opting in. Give them instructions and provide them with a link directly to their device’s setting to enable tracking. Emphasizing to users that they are in control of their data and can disable tracking at any time can be a motivating factor for opting in.

Optimize the timing of your prompt

Each app developer has control over when to show the ATT prompt—and their decision could have a massive impact on opt-in rates. However, there’s no single solution for all apps. For new users, it makes sense to show the prompt during the signup process when other permissions are requested. For existing users, it could be delivered after a particular trigger, such as spending a certain amount of time in the app or accomplishing a task. Whatever stage you choose to ask for consent, pinpointing the optimal moment is arguably the most crucial factor in maximizing the opt-in rate.

How Should Brands Use This Data?

The extent to which Apple’s update will affect your app marketing depends largely on the percentage of users opting in to ATT consent. Of course, the ideal scenario is to have as many users opt in as possible, and the strategies outlined above should certainly help. However, a user can change their preferences at any time, and the reality is that privacy will continue presenting its challenges. Acknowledging that these updates are part of a privacy-centric future—and adapting to them—will be crucial for success.

MessageGears’s Position on App Tracking Transparency

At MessageGears, we only allow customers to track data they own; data sent to MessageGears is not used by any other external companies, making MessageGears fully compliant with ATT.

One of the most effective ways of reducing the reliance on third-party data is to collect and invest in your own customer data. First-party data provides valuable insights that can help deliver better customer experiences and drive business results. Provide easy, intuitive ways for people to share information about themselves and then use this information to build stronger relationships and deliver a more personalized experience.

For more information on how MessageGears processes data, please read our Data Protection Agreement. Or, if you have more questions, arrange a call with one of our experts.

About the Author
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Sarah Kelly

Sarah is a passionate marketing professional devoted to crafting thought-provoking content that fuels business growth and success. With over a decade of experience in the ever-evolving marketing world, she brings a strategic and data-driven mindset to her role as SEO.