Apple killed the IDFA. Armageddon was upon us﹘or so we thought. iOS 14.5 was a landmark update that boasted App Tracking Transparency (ATT) and was supposed to have an asteroid-like impact on the mobile app industry. The rollout of iOS 14.5 has been super slow and Facebook CPMs are up…So what’s up with all that?

On Monday, May 24, 2021, iOS 14.6 was released. As MobileDevMemo points out, “Why did Apple slow-roll the adoption of variants of iOS 14.5, which unveiled (arguably) the feature that most impacts the mobile app economy since the launch of the App Store?” What’s really going on here?

iOS 14.5 Adoption Speed

iOS 14.5 Adoption Speed

As the graph indicates, the consumer adoption rate has been particularly slow. Why? As MobileDevMemo argues,  Apple may have been concerned about advertisers and publishers. CPMs for opted-out iOS 14.5 users are much lower than CPMs for opted-in users, as predicted. Most advertisers and publishers weren’t prepared for iOS 14.5 because a lot hadn’t completed their SKAdNetwork integrations before iOS 14.5 was released. If iOS 14.5 was adopted at the same pace as previous prominent releases,  advertisers and publishers would have negatively impacted. Now, these publishers / mobile app developers can acclimate to the new mobile app advertising world order, while Apple temporarily mutes the impact on the developer ecosystem.

Attribution After iOS 14.5: What Does the Data Tell Us About Why the Apocalypse is So Quiet?

Apple claims they removed IDFA to provide privacy as a human right. So why does Apple set the “Allow Apps to Request to Track” setting off and disabled by default, essentially not giving users a choice? In addition, why is Apple’s claim of privacy concern for users paramount, yet instead of immediately releasing all the features, they’re doing a slow rollout of ATT to prevent a seismic and devastating shift to the mobile app ecosystem?

Because, as we argue, this was never about privacy. A deliberately paced IDFA Armageddon (IDFA Armageddon Part I; IDFA Armageddon Part II; IDFA Armageddon Part III) obfuscates Apple’s true motives.

Apple’s True Motives

I believe iOS14.5 and ATT are Apple’s attempts to wrench back merchandising control over app distribution. It is nothing more than an elegant PR spin to position Apple to try to claim the moral high ground.

The removal of ATT is a tectonic shift that will roll back advertising efficiency for 15 years. Unfortunately, Apple did not seek industry input or discussion during the development of SKAN. In addition, Apple was the only party involved in ATT planning and development. To me, ATT was done to prolong users’ dependency on Apple and the AppStore. Users must use only Apple’s AppStore to find and download apps and mobile app developers must use Apple’s payment mechanisms if a consumer would like to perform an in-app purchase … so Apple gets to define what privacy is – Apple and first parties can get all the data but 3rd parties can not.

Consumers can not opt-out of Apple tracking their downloads via a 3rd party app store, nor can consumers pay for the purchase via a neutral 3rd party like Paypal or Venmo, etc.  Why did Apple do all this? Simple, the AppStore has poor merchandising and poor recommendations. It is an unnecessary step between the app advertiser and the user installing the app.

What’s Up With Rising CPMs?

Across multiple platforms, CPMs have oscillated since IDFAs rollout. We’re not sure exactly why, but it appears the platforms may be adjusting their algorithms for this post-IDFA world. Below are CPM graphs across several mobile app gaming advertisers in unrelated genres across platforms.

Facebook romance games apps developer saw their CPMs return to their high levels seen in April.

CPMs Have Skyrocketed Post IDFA

A Facebook hidden object developer saw CPMs increase using both Facebook’s automated app ads (AAA) and their standard algorithm.

CPMs Have Skyrocketed Post IDFA

Facebook simulation games developer has seen a volatile last two weeks, CPMs going above $10, but then coming back down close to the start of May.

CPMs Have Skyrocketed Post IDFA

Another Facebook simulation app developer has seen CPMs increase 4x the amount they started at in May.

CPMs Have Skyrocketed Post IDFA

For comparison, this Facebook desk client saw a minimal impact possibly due to running desktop-only campaigns.

Facebook desk client

Additional comparison, this client didn’t appear impacted perhaps due to not running Facebook value or AEO purchase events.

CPMs Have Skyrocketed Post IDFA

This wellness app developer’s Facebook website AEO purchase spiked, then reverted within four days.

CPMs Have Skyrocketed Post IDFA

TikTok CPMs Spiked Too!

For TikTok, there was a spike as well. One app developer saw a higher spend of around 5/14 (normal), and a spike over Memorial Weekend.

CPMs Have Skyrocketed Post IDFA

Similarly, another TikTok developer experienced a CPM bump mid-month, and then another just before Memorial Weekend.

Tiktok developer

Finally, a TikTok sports app developer also experienced the CPM bump mid-month. Now, their CPM is trending up towards the end of the month/Memorial Weekend.

CPMs Have Skyrocketed Post IDFA

Google CPMs are Up

Google CPMs rose from the start of the month, peaked and stabilized for about 10 days then slightly decreased the past week.

CPMs Have Skyrocketed Post IDFA

Interestingly, an app developer sees a spike every 7 days in the US. But, overall CPMs are stable.

app developer

Another Google client saw their CPMs steadily rising throughout last month despite pulling back on spend the last 2 weeks of the month.

Google Client

Survive and Thrive Post IDFA

The way to maintain profitable mobile app advertising and to survive and thrive post-IDFA world is through creative optimization. With IDFA effectively dead, and both Facebook and Google moving to automated media buying, the last meaningful lever mobile app developers have is creative. Those who don’t adapt to the creative is king philosophy will die.

How We Can Help?

Consumer Acquisition can help you create a unique creative learning agenda with a custom asset creation pipeline. This allows for the production of a steady stream of breakthrough creative ideas and assets to stay ahead of creative fatigue. Through our Creative Studio, we provide better, cheaper, faster asset production which enables agile production for rapid creative testing.

Founded in 2013, is a technology-enabled marketing services company that has managed over $3 billion in creative and social ad spend for the world’s largest mobile apps and web-based performance advertisers. We provide a creative studio and user acquisition services for Facebook, Google, TikTok, Snap, and Apple Search social advertisers. Contact to discuss your POST-IDFA creative strategy, a creative learning agenda, and ways to improve the profitability of your mobile app advertising.

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