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Enterprises and app developers, brace yourselves — the iOS 14 upgrade will soon roll out a new data consent window that will appear in all apps that collect and share data with outside parties for advertising purposes. The rollout will have a widespread impact on businesses and will affect the number of iOS devices available for personalized advertising.
Many consumers will view the new consent features as a positive step forward to better privacy protection, which it is. For developers and enterprises, each consumer’s decision to consent to or refuse “Tracking” will shape the business models of the App Store economy and the wider internet for years to come.
The new consent screens give consumers more control in shaping the Future of the Internet which will ultimately be a net positive. Clarity, transparency, and consumer control are good for iPhone users — and the internet at large. But there are still steps that developers — and enterprises — can take to ensure that they not only comply with Apple’s new rules, but find success in the next era of the privacy-first internet.
Here are three strategic recommendations that can help developers and enterprises adapt to the new privacy normal:
1. Let your users know WHY you need their data — and what benefit they derive from opting into data sharing
While the language included in Apple’s mandatory AppTrackingTransparency (ATT) notification cannot be changed, developers can add a message that appears ahead of the ATT consent. This message can include any language the developer chooses (so long as it is accurate and not misleading) and should be utilized as a way to build trust with the user. After all, if the user trusts an app, they’ll be more likely to consent to data-sharing.
When possible, use plain, concise language that will clearly articulate what kind of data is being collected, what it is being used for, and (most importantly) the value exchange – why the user benefits from sharing that data. Perhaps certain app functions are improved by data sharing, or the app is funded through data-sharing, and users would need to pay for downloads if the app can no longer collect data. Regardless of the reason, this primer message is the best opportunity to make your case to your user.
To see if different language affected opt-in rates, Foursquare tested out several versions of our primer messages on our own app users. While it’s still early days, our results showed that a straightforward explanation of the value exchange (“Support City Guide. Your data allows us to provide this app for free to you.”) yielded the highest number of opt-ins. We shouldn’t be surprised that consumers respect when businesses are transparent with them.
2. Shift to an ID-agnostic strategy
As mobile advertising IDs (MAIDs — also known as IDFAs) are phased out, enterprises and developers need to embrace a pluralistic future and an interim period of complexity around identity. The Future of the Internet will involve multiple types of identifiers, and it will take time for each company to find the solution that works best for both the business and its users. During this period, developers must be nimble and willing to keep an ID-agnostic approach until they’ve experimented with several different forms of ID, and until we see how the whole market shakes out.
For many, email addresses will emerge as the best form of identity because user consent is clearly established. When users willingly provide their emails while downloading an app or setting up a profile, they authenticate the relationship between themselves and the service. There are other industry solutions being rolled out to further protect consumer privacy that have emails as their foundation, so establishing a logged-in user base today may allow you to leverage those solutions as they gain prominence and adoption.
3. Plan for the short and long term to avoid product interruptions
The future is likely going to look more contextual and probabilistic, and less deterministic. This may sound daunting to many enterprises that have been doing marketing the same way for a long time. Enterprises must plan for a future in which scale is in shorter supply and accessing device-level identity may be more challenging. Apple’s changes are not the final chapter in this story. As the next step, expect Android to follow with changes to the availability of Google advertising IDs (AAIDs) in late 2021 or early 2022.
To adapt for the long-term, double down today on investments on data science, or find partners who are already doing so. For example, some enterprises are experimenting with cohort-based ad delivery and measurement. Plan to keep adding scale and incorporating new types of data — such as transaction data — that will help fill in the gaps left by the loss of MAIDs. It’s also important to have a holistic strategy across first-, second-, and third-party data. When you leverage second- and third-party data, being strategic means vetting your partners to be sure they are adhering to the same privacy principles as your company because your reputations will be linked.
Exactly what the Future of the Internet will look like is still a mystery, but there’s no reason for developers or enterprises to move forward blindly. By taking the above steps and, perhaps most importantly, committing to being flexible, you won’t just be “riding out” the impending changes but will actually be adapting both your business and the ecosystem to a more sustainable — and privacy-sensitive — place.
Tyler Finn is the Director of Data Strategy at Foursquare, where he focuses on the future of privacy and identity. Prior to the merger with Foursquare, he led global privacy and policy initiatives for Factual. Earlier in his career, he worked on public policy in the unmanned aerial vehicles space.
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