IDFA privacy changes — how is creator marketing affected?

Clamping down against privacy concerns, Apple is set to enforce IDFA App Tracking Transparency changes following the release of iOS 14.5.

The changes mean that apps will need to ask the user’s permission to access the iPhone’s ad identifier (IDFA) before tracking is allowed.



What is IDFA?

An IDFA is a key mobile identifier for advertising. It’s randomly assigned to your device kind of like a social security number. The IDFA is for iOS devices, however Google has its own equivalent for android called GPS ADID. 

The identifier can only be read in mobile apps downloaded from app stores, and not in computer browsers. It can be used to uncover data regarding user behaviour and consumption preferences. An in-depth look at what data is harvested and how, can be found in this thoroughly researched piece by Eric Benjamin Seufert.

Typically the data is used by third parties to track users for ad-targeting. These could be through performance-driven adverts on platforms such as Facebook or Google. 

Governments however are now cracking down on the collection of data amid privacy concerns. The Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which data was used for advertising during elections, ignited a backlash over the use of data and culminated in Facebook being sued for $5 billion. 

Since then, complaints lodged with EU data protection authorities, have contended that tracking is only lawful if users explicitly consent to it. Updated EU privacy rules are currently in the pipeline, however the  European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), Wojciech Wiewiorówski has called for a ban on surveillance-based targeted ads altogether.   

What changes are being made?

Apple announced last summer that users will be given the option to opt out of IDFA sharing with the latest iOS 14.5 update.

An App Tracking Transparency (ATT) policy will be implemented, which will show up in the form of a pop-up, or via the settings menu, giving users the choice to opt out.

In the ‘opt out’, Apple will instead track through a SKAdNetwork. This lets advertisers know which campaign led to a user installing, but won’t let them know which user installed it or track ‘event streams’ that encompass the user’s activity. 

How will this affect social advertising?

In retaliation, Facebook ran not one but two newspaper ads blasting Apple for the move. 

Facebook claims that the ads will affect small businesses that rely on its ad network to generate sales. They expect subscription fees or in-app purchases to be added by such businesses to make up for revenue lost from personalised ads. 

One prediction is that Facebook themselves could take about a 7% revenue hit from the changes. Meanwhile, marketers won’t have access to as much data, or rather, the type of data that they are used to having access to in order to make forecasts. 

Opt-in rates are uncertain, with trials recording a broad range from 5% to 50% – but nevertheless it will impact how marketers strategise campaigns in the future.

How will this affect creator marketing?

Creator marketing does not target through tracking online behaviour. Instead it targets the followers of specific creators who then integrate ads into their content. This means that it is not directly affected by the IDFA changes.

We can still target according to demographic, however we do not monitor user behaviour. For example in traditional social advertising, a user could be targeted based on something such as their search history. So if someone searches for tap dancing shoes, then up pops tap dancing shoes on their Facebook feed.

However creator marketing finds creators that are in a certain niche, and works with that creator to target their audience. So perhaps it could be a tap dancer. Their followers may be in awe of this person and also want to take up tap dancing, or are tap dancers that are inspired by their videos. So it’s a good demographic for a tap dancing shoe company to be targeting their ads with.

Rather showing a one-dimensional generic ad on a feed, creators customise ads. They script and integrate them to fit in with their content. Through this ads are aimed at a community of followers, rather than randomly targeting based on city or click habits.

So what tracking is there?

Tracking is implemented for the sake of attributing the number of installs back to the ads. When a user clicks on an ad, it contains a link with tracking information. That link directs the user to install the app. Advertisers are able to know which advert or creator brought the install based on the link. 

Rather than tracking behaviour, many companies (including ourselves) are browser based. Using third party tools, we instead use a probabilistic model to combine users into an identity. This can be based off a number of components. These could be the language used in the web browser, or the operating system and screen dimensions.

Most importantly, creator marketing does not rely on invasive profiling tactics. Instead, it’s all about the community and following of the creators. Users engage with the content because of its authenticity, and through this ads can garner impactful results.


If you would like to learn more about our methodology and are interested in implementing a privacy-aware framework for your marketing campaigns, take a look at our services for advertisers or schedule a walkthrough with us.