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You may have read that Apple has effectively killed the IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers), sending tremors through the mobile marketing industry. With the release of iOS 14 in September, Apple has decided to give users a clear IDFA opt-in, which will almost certainly result in the identifier becoming redundant.

While users already have the option to turn off IDFA, few actually do because it’s hidden somewhere in the depths of Settings. It seems extremely unlikely that many users will agree to being tracked ‘across apps and websites owned by other companies’ if given a choice. 

It’s a savvy move on Apple’s part, avoiding the backlash it would have attracted from marketers had it ditched IDFA entirely, while visibly shoring up security on its devices by granting users an explicit opt-in.

Realistically, the move means that 10-20% of iOS 14 users are likely to enable IDFA, in which case it might as well have been killed off completely. This will have a monumental impact on the mobile marketing ecosystem.

Apple is introducing a privacy-safe framework for mobile marketing attribution called SKAdNetwork that will give marketers a more general, aggregated version of the data IDFA granted. It should ensure that targeting strategies like Google’s Target ROAS  will still be possible.

One of the most significant knock-on effects could be the death of retargeting, which relies on IDFA and GAID (Google’s equivalent) to track and retarget lapsed users. It’s hard to see how retargeting can work at all without IDFA and the sort of tracking that Apple is now enabling its users to block. According to Seufert, there’s “no way to retarget a user without having a device ID, without having an advertising ID. I think (retargeting) is just done.”