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Apple?s focus on mobile tracking issues poised to drive ROI, ad budgets

Starting today, Apple will no longer accept applications that use a device?s Unique Device Identifier to track users in an attempt to get marketers to embrace its own tracking standard, the Apple Identifier or IFA.

While Apple started deprecating the use of UDIDs last year in the wake of growing concern because the standard does not allow consumers to opt out from mobile ad tracking, marketers have been reluctant to switch to something else. However, the conversion tracking enabled by the new IFA standard should help marketers optimize their marketing by channel and creative, resulting in a lower cost per acquisition and higher returns on investment.

?With Apple's IFA now replacing UDID, marketers can adopt this new standard in their ad tracking, with the knowledge that it provides device level opt out for consumers on all iOS 6+ devices,? said George Kennedy, vice president of marketing at TapSense, San Francisco. ?Because of the legal grey area around UDID, many marketers decided to simply remove tracking altogether and others tried to rely on other IDs to track ROI.

?With the legal issues from UDID now resolved, much of the friction that was holding back large advertising budgets is starting to be released and we anticipate spend in iOS mobile advertising to rocket throughout the year,? he said. ?IFA is ultimately bringing confidence to the industry which will benefit brands, agencies and ultimately the mobile user.

?IFA will help to bring confidence, regulation and increased spend to the iOS mobile advertising market and greatly improve ROI in ad campaigns that were previously running without any tracking.?

The conversion funnel
Apple?s IFA alternative enables users to opt out of any tracking method by changing a setting at the device level. It has been available since the release of iOS 6 last year, but should start to gain wider traction now that UDIDs are no longer an option.

IFA also offers deeper visibility into the conversion funnel, making it easier for marketers to understand an acquired user?s lifetime value. In turn, this will enable marketers to focus on getting users who spend in their apps.

Marketers can use conversion tracking to attribute users to the right source and avoid having to pay twice for the same user from different networks.

Additionally, marketers will be able to follow users through the conversion funnel and identify drop off points so they can correct them.

Early movers
Other benefits of IFA include being able to use only one conversion tracking SDK in apps so marketers can avoid managing multiple SDKs and the ability to work with publishers, ad networks and other third parties.

?The biggest benefits will come to the marketers who capitalize on IFA early,? Mr. Kennedy said. ?IFA will not only allow them to track campaigns, but gain visibility deep into the conversion funnel.

?Smart marketers can then use this data to optimize and improve their advertising, making it work more efficiently to get a greater return on their ad spend,? he said.

Universal approach needed
However, despite the benefits offered by IFA, it is still focused exclusively on Apple and does not address the broader issue of tracking ads across mobile platforms or outside iOS apps. Without such broader tracking capabilities, marketers are still hampered in their efforts to drive ROI from mobile.

As a result, some are calling for the adoption of a universal approach to device recognition such as is offered by AdTruth and others.

?The Apple Identifier moves iOS app developers away from cookies, but it fails the universality test because it is limited to one platform and only one use case - mobile apps,? said James Lamberti, vice president and general manager at AdTruth, Scottsdale, AZ. ?For marketers to derive the greatest ROI from their mobile campaigns, they need a solution that is able to scale and function on all devices, in any operating system and in every use case across desktop and mobile Web and app.

?There's an opportunity for the entire industry to adopt a universal approach to device recognition, and that opportunity is here today,? he said.

?With universal device recognition technology such as AdTruth?s, can better reach audiences at scale while respecting consumer privacy and choice.?

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York