As we approach the second anniversary of Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework, it’s clear the daily lives of marketers have changed dramatically. But outside of the iOS ecosystem, marketers need to prepare to adapt once again. On Android, the Privacy Sandbox is expected to be generally available by the end of 2023, aiming for a complete rollout by 2024. On the web, Google plans to phase out cookies in the second half of 2024 after originally announcing the withdrawal in 2019.
Luckily, marketers won’t be caught completely unaware. While the official retirement date of tracking cookies still lies ahead, several privacy-oriented browsers such as Firefox or Safari are already enforcing it, and Google is increasing the trial population of the Privacy Sandbox throughout 2023.
Still, preparing ahead of time is necessary for those who want to hit the ground running. Despite a year between announcement and enforcement, the implications from Apple’s ATT framework were so vast that most weren’t ready for the scope of changes that went live in Q2 2021. It took months to adjust metrics, systems, and particularly mindsets, as marketers were forced to break their addiction with user-level data.
Since Google is providing a transition period to help developers experiment with the different Privacy Sandbox tools and APIs ahead of time, there is no excuse for marketers to be caught out.
Here are four lessons learnt from iOS that Android marketers can take advantage of right now.
Some channels may be impacted more than others, depending on the amount of user-level data needed to function and the system upgrades required. There is little point in making hard and fast bets on which approach may suffer more – instead, a healthy mix can protect against an underperforming channel that may otherwise undercut overall performance.
Apple’s ATT rollout demonstrated how marketers who concentrated their budget on specific partners and channels were forced to rethink ad spend structure. Maintaining the flexibility to shift budgets always helps – especially in times of change.
Additionally, the activities that have already moved away from advertising IDs or third-party cookies could act as a contingency backup if things go awry. For instance, influencer marketing or Connected TV are less likely to be as affected. Operating across multiple channels allows marketers to be agile and respond effectively without upending overall performance or revenue.
Keeping an eye on the industry, assessing other players, and reaching out to potential partners can also provide further insights and support.
Be ready to adjust metrics and tech stack
On iOS, marketers had to move from a unified view, measuring all channels in a fairly comparable manner, to interpreting different sources for different cases.
Instead of click-through rates (CTR) and installs per 1000 impressions (IPM), marketers have become more aware of other top-of-the-funnel metrics such as hook rate, video completion, and other interactions that indicate performance and affect modelisation. This shift is visible in TikTok’s prioritisation of Instant Pages, which provide different metrics, data insights, and available user journeys that marketers may want to experiment with ahead of time.
Another scenario involves supplementing the existing stack with additional layers. Using AppStoreConnect data was never a very reliable option on iOS, but with higher uncertainty, it could offer a better understanding of future outcomes. The same is true for Android; now more than ever, Android marketers need a good understanding of how Google reports results in the Play Console, which might require onboarding new partners or building additional tools. An early start is recommended for any marketer planning to add Media Mix Modelling, as this typically takes time.
Now is also a great time to take stock of, and audit, existing stacks. There may be unplumbed potential in specific features and existing partners with new solutions to hidden problems. Considering historical partnerships and identifying who has been particularly adaptive and innovative in the past can prove fruitful for the future.
Having a clear overview of both existing stacks and developing technologies makes transitions easier. Keeping on track of progress keeps the financial burdens lighter and the changes to internal teams and external partners less resource-intensive.
Start evolving mindset and habits
Changes in attribution are forcing marketers to rethink how to act in their day-to-day, especially for those operating one channel only, focusing only on their own metric. This is particularly true with ATT. Going forwards, taking a more holistic, multi-faceted approach that compares and contrasts different methods across teams and colleagues will be critical.
Both on Android and on the web, it is very likely that marketing teams’ dynamics will change when handling hard data, metrics, and stack, just like they changed on iOS. This shift may be even more important for daily activities and processes: alignment within the team, with other stakeholders (such as non-marketing data analysts), product managers, and more. If that isn’t the case yet, making friends with data analysts will pay off when it comes to creating a smooth-running, knowledge-sharing culture that encourages positive outcomes.
How much first-party data is being used?
The pending restrictions on third-party data access and the introduction of clear consent place more emphasis on the potential of first-party data. This applies to networks, and how they utilise interactions on their side, as well as developers and publishers.
For instance, where the total reach of remarketing was reduced on iOS, more resources could be allocated to lifecycle activities (in-app messages, push, email etc.). This holds for product topics. More teams are implementing a “how did you hear about us” feature, to create an additional measurement metric. This can be done ahead of future changes, so teams allow time to learn, compare results, and implement informed decisions.
The bottom line
If ATT taught us anything, it’s to start preparing now so marketers can be better informed and equipped when the full scope of privacy changes take hold permanently. Rather than thinking only about metrics and tools, a more holistic approach will facilitate the adoption and implementation of transformational changes to come.