How App Marketers Are Responding to ATT and Other Privacy Frameworks

App marketers are still feeling the impact of COVID-19 today. What started with exponential growth as millions of consumers flocked to business, e-commerce, and gaming apps has stabilized. But just as consumer habits change, so do privacy regulations that dictate the user information accessible to app marketers.

Whether it’s Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT), recent SKAdNetwork (SKAN) 4 changes, or Google’s upcoming shift from Google Advertising ID (GAID) to its Privacy Sandbox, changes such as these can significantly impact ad performance and how marketers report and measure their campaigns.

How are app marketers responding? Is ATT still causing problems? Are marketers wising up to the implications of SKAN 4? And with GAID deprecation looming, are app marketers fully prepared for these changes? Or perhaps more importantly, do they understand how these changes affect them and their campaigns?

To find out, we asked more than 500 app marketing professionals from top companies worldwide to share how they’re responding to pivotal mobile ecosystem challenges, such as user privacy, cost, and macroeconomic factors. You can find the full findings in Liftoff’s 2024 App Marketer Survey*. However, we wanted to look deeper at app marketers’ sentiments around user privacy to see how the industry is progressing and where marketers can improve.

ATT is still impacting UA performance

According to AppsFlyer, average opt-in rates hover at about 45% in the second year of ATT, although rates can vary significantly across app verticals, with shopping apps reporting at 82%.

With that in mind, it’s unsurprising to hear many app marketers are still dealing with the repercussions of ATT. When we asked app marketers how ATT changes had impacted their overall UA performance, the responses were:
  • Very negatively (9%)
  • Slightly negatively (35%)
  • No change (33%)
  • Slightly positively (20%)
  • Very positively (4%)
To break this down further, we asked app marketers whether they agreed or disagreed with some of the most commonly cited ATT challenges, such as increasing costs, changing KPIs, and a lack of available data hindering decision-making.

As we can see from the chart above, two of the biggest challenges are a need for more available data hindering decision-making (71% agree), costs increasing (68%), and campaigns being less successful (62%).

App marketers can combat these challenges by:
  • Adding more transparent messaging on their apps about data collection and privacy to improve opt-in rates
  • Focusing on campaign optimization with in-app advertising optimization to increase ROAS
  • Working with DSPs with an established network of high-quality users to bring down costs

Over a third of app marketers are still unfamiliar with SKAN 4

While 66% of app marketers reported at least some familiarity with SKAN 4, it’s concerning that over a third of respondents are not familiar. Though this is an improvement on last year’s survey, where more than half of respondents weren’t familiar with SKAN 4, many app marketers seem to be struggling to embrace SKAN 4, or are unaware of its benefits.

For the unfamiliar, SKAN allows advertisers to receive up to three postbacks based on a different activity window: 0-2 days, 3-7 days, and 8-35 days. This makes it easier to gauge the effectiveness of ad campaigns after 35 days, giving you more options for optimization and reporting. Our advice: Read up and change tactics if you need to.

Marketers are cautious but not unwilling to share unattributed postbacks

Speaking of campaign optimization, unattributed postbacks are a great way to gather valuable information and improve campaign performance. While they don’t include attribution data, they do include conversion data, which might be why more than half of the app marketers we surveyed don’t share unattributed postbacks with their partners.

That said, 38% of respondents do share unattributed postbacks or would do so with a partner if asked, highlighting that while app marketers are cautious about the information they share, they are willing to provide it to the right partners when they recognize the benefits, such as optimizing campaign performance by allowing ad networks to determine CPI billing more accurately.

Over half of marketers have made little or no preparations for GAID deprecation

When Google says goodbye to GAID potentially this year, it will change audience targeting, emphasize interest-based ad serving over traditional personalization methods, and introduce an API for attribution reporting.

In short, Google will make it more difficult for app marketers to get the information they rely on for Android campaign optimization. Despite this, our survey found that a third (33%) of respondents are unfamiliar with GAID, while 30% are only somewhat familiar and 27% are very or extremely familiar. Familiarity aside, there was also a notable lack of preparation for incoming changes, with more than half of app marketers saying they have made very little or no preparation for GAID deprecation.

Preparing for these changes now will stand you in good stead, as it gives you a headstart of knowing what and how you need to change campaign activations and performance, as well as targetting and any tweaks to creative you might need to make.

*The Liftoff 2023 App Marketer Survey was conducted October 25–November 21, 2023. It’s based on over 500 responses from global app marketing professionals across gaming (54%) and non-gaming (46%) app verticals, with respondents based in APAC (27%), the Americas (32%), and EMEA (41%). Respondents work with monthly advertising budgets from $50,000 to over $1,000,000.

Written by: Joey Fulcher, Global VP, Accelerate at Liftoff

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