At last year’s WWDC, Apple dropped the news that developers would have to obtain an explicit user’s consent in order to use IDFA. Since then, UA Managers were obsessing about the effectiveness of their campaigns in this “new normal” while Ad Monetization Managers obsessed about eCPMs and potential drop that would follow. The concerns were only amplified after Facebook published a white paper that claimed that the effectiveness of their Audience Network algorithms depended so much on personalization that without it, publishers lost 50% of their ad revenue.
Another question that arose in the past six months and was extensively debated in the industry was what % of users would consent to tracking. The bets varied from 10% to 90% for consent. After all the discussions and some tests, it seems that many now agree that the majority of the users (70% or more) will not allow IDFA.
Given the above, I thought it would be useful to share some data, insights and practices from my experience of managing ad monetization stacks for many of the companies out there. Here are some questions to be answered:
I’ll share findings based on my work on three different f2p mobile games. The scale of the games is significant (100K+ DAUs). Ad revenue is meaningful, although they are generating revenue primarily through IAPs. The United States is the #1 market, and users mostly brought through paid UA activity. All games are using rewarded videos and interstitial ads.
Although ATT is not enforced, users have the option to restrict developers from accessing their IDFA by following this path: Settings >> Privacy >> Advertising >> Turn on Limit Ad Tracking. I checked these numbers at the beginning of November and in the beginning of February. Here’s what I’ve got for US only:
Two things are worth highlighting here: first, the number of IDFA-less users is very different depending on the game. Since November, all three games have seen some increase in % of IDFA-less users but the biggest growth comes with the game that had the lowest number to begin with. Second, keep in mind that this is still without the ATT prompt. Another thing worth mentioning is that, although these numbers are on average higher for the US-based users, the differences (compared to global user base) are not dramatic.
Based on the findings #1, I decided to focus on Game #1 and Game #2. These games are using MAX mediation by Applovin which conveniently announced some IDFA-related functionalities early in September. This enabled me to easily check eCPMs depending on IDFA.
The data shows that eCPMs are much lower for IDFA-less users. The difference in eCPM is dramatic, almost 50% on rewarded video and around 40% on interstitials.
In order to answer this question, I’ve compared the eCPMs for both IDFA and IDFA-less users from beginning of November last year and beginning of February this year. Of course, the comparison is not ideal (seasonality effect, UA activity, etc.) but it still might be some indication of a trend.
The simple answer is yes, eCPMs for IDFA-less users did increase from the beginning of November until now. However, we also see that the eCPMs of IDFA users also increased. Taking a closer look, it does seem that increase on IDFA-less is bigger than on IDFA, as the table below shows:
In the case of these two games, it’s true that eCPMs for IDFA-less users have on average increased more than eCPMs for IDFA users. Also, Fyber published some data based on their marketplace and claims that eCPMs for IDFA-less traffic is increasing.
Based on the data shown in #3, it appears that the gap is somewhat smaller (beginning of February VS. beginning of November). In November, eCPM of IDFA-less users was equal to 56% of IDFA users. Beginning of February, it was 63%.
There are some things that I would consider mandatory and that I would recommend to all my colleagues to put on their checklist:
Apart from this, an additional step that can be taken is separate mediation optimization (depending on the IDFA status). It doesn’t necessarily mean a huge amount of time for you and it might be good for the performance. Here are some tips from my experience:
There are also some more general things that can be considered for potentially softening the blow we will suffer once ATT goes into full swing. These require additional effort on all sides (product, ad monetization, development):
That’s it. We are now weeks away from “early Spring”. Let’s see what happens next and if this time next year we will be discussing the performance of GAID and GAID-less users.