Edit: Apple has clarified that ATT enforcement will begin on April 26
Advertisers, developers, and consumers alike have been anticipating ATT since it was announced at WWDC last June (its rollout was officially delayed in September of last year until “Spring 2021”). While many advertisers have spent the past months preparing for the changes that ATT will inflict upon the mobile ecosystem, it’s not possible to predict the magnitude of ATT’s impact on any specific business with any precision. The entire mobile ecosystem has waited in a sort of limbo (or purgatory) for iOS 14.5 to be released to the public in order to shepherd their businesses across this new and unfamiliar landscape. In this sense, the release of iOS 14.5 to the general public is almost liberating.
For those lacking context on what exactly ATT is and how it will change the functional rhythm of the mobile ecosystem, some resources are here:
- App Tracking Transparency Codex
- How to scale and optimize marketing spend with SKAdNetwork
- ATT opt-in rates are irrelevant
- The CPM math doesn’t work
- Apple: email lists cannot be used for ad targeting
- What’s the standard for ATT 6-bit conversion values?
- IDFA deprecation: winners and losers
- What will Google’s deprecation of GAID look like?
- How does IDFA deprecation impact ad prices?
- Podcast: Contemplating the next 18 months of mobile advertising
- Dear App Developers: fingerprinting is not a viable workaround to ATT
- iOS 14, Privacy, and the Future of Digital Advertising
In this way, ATT represents the end of the beginning of mobile. The way businesses have been built on mobile to date, since the paid app business model gave way to freemium on mobile shortly after the launch of the App Store in 2008, is becoming outmoded. The new chapter of mobile content monetization that I described in The mobile app economy’s second act relates to the new business models unlocked by changing platform features, accessibility, and user behaviors. But where those new capabilities are slow evolutions, ATT is a much more foundational, immediate tectonic shift. The 2010-2021 timeline, in that sense, can be considered mobile’s first epoch. We are now entering its second: one with wholly new distribution mechanics and strategies.
In Mobile’s post-attribution era, I pontificated over a mobile ecosystem that isn’t powered by deterministic attribution or precision measurement. This is the reality faced by advertisers in the ATT environment. The means by which content is distributed on mobile — and how that distribution is measured and assessed against business goals — are going to change. Content publishers and advertisers face a daunting set of new challenges in this change, but they also face incredible new opportunities to capture market share and develop competitive advantages. This post-ATT period, in some ways, serves as a fresh start for the entire ecosystem.