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What Digital Marketers Need to Understand about Apple's App Tracking Transparency Framework
Feb 12, 2021

What You Need To Know About Apple’s App Tracking Transparency Framework 

As a digital marketer, you have come to expect changes that reflect the ongoing desire to protect consumer data and privacy. The latest such effort involves the imminent release of Apple's iOS 14 App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework, which will require app providers to present their apps’ use of data when a consumer opens them for the first time post-implementation. For you as an advertiser, this change will impose significant challenges to your ability to track users on mobile phones. has taken some of the top questions we’ve gotten from our advertisers and created this guide to help you, as you prepare.  

What is iOS 14 App Tracking Transparency?

With the launch of iOS 14, Apple included their App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework, which massively reduces the number of devices tracked using the Identifier for Advertisers (IDFAs), the app version of a cookie. The release itself took place in September of 2020. However, Apple gave advertisers until early 2021 to get their ad tracking house in order. 

The changes will require iPhone and iPad users to opt-in to ad tracking on their apps from the device’s privacy settings. It's not totally clear what the changes will look like and how user tracking and targeting will be affected. What the new process will do is increase Apple users, awareness of the tracking, which could encourage them to switch from being tracked (IDFA) to being invisible (referred to as “zeroed IDFA”) overnight.

Why does iOS 14 ATT matter to me as an advertiser?

This can be considered a dry-run for the future of digital marketing, as the degradation of 3rd party cookies extends to desktop browsers like Apple’s Safari and Google’s Chrome. Marketing to individuals will become harder based on their unique actions and behaviors which means performance tracking and modeling will have to adapt to the new digital landscape. As cohort targeting (proposed by Google and others) gets tested at scale, advertising campaigns will need to adjust to new, somewhat less exacting messages and approaches. 

How does this impact my advertising on Facebook and Google?

Once adopted, iOS 14 ATT will lead to less tracking of people on mobile devices. All apps downloaded from Apple’s App Store need to comply. This will impact many ad-supported businesses that depend on apps and the Apple customer base. While Google and other publishers are impacted, Facebook in particular has been vocal about this change because it impacts the Facebook Audience Network, the Facebook pixel and the data derived from it including conversion tracking, optimization, targeting and reporting of those actions. For example, Facebook is expecting a loss of conversion detail since users won't be trackable once they navigate away from being logged into Facebook’s family of apps. Some of Facebook’s offerings, like off-property conversion and remarketing capabilities, will be impacted. 

The company expects the impact to hurt their small business advertisers who are trying to reach specific audiences and track the impact their spend on Facebook has on their business. While conversion data will remain when someone completes their purchase within an Instagram or Facebook shop, any off-app conversion that is not-tracked will affect reporting results. 

Google has taken a different approach. When Apple’s policy goes into effect, they will no longer use information (such as IDFA) that falls under iOS 14 ATT for their iOS apps that currently use that data for advertising purposes. Because of this decision, Google apps on iOS will not show the prompt about data usage. 

Strategies based on audience cohorts should be less impacted, and are expected to become the default form of targeting. The impact of cohorts on marketing is unproven, though Google claims that their approach, called FLoC (which stands for federated learning of cohorts), is 95% as effective as cookie-based targeting. Advertisers have been asked by Facebook to prepare their campaigns for the change by updating the events they optimize for and to re-verify web domains. On the user front, the social media giant has also started trialling their own iOS ATT opt in windows in an attempt to encourage audiences to continue to be tracked. 

How does this impact campaigns running on reports on performance data passed to us from Facebook the same way any company working in the social walled garden does.'s creative personalization approach already utilizes audience cohorts along with relevancy signals such as time of day or weather. From the beginning, has operated without cookies or fingerprinting, future-proofing our approach. We will continue to work with the ad server companies as they adopt new ways of targeting at the cohort level. As a result,’s performance marketing approach will continue to work without a dependency on soon-to-be deprecated IDFAs.

Your campaigns running on will retain the same level of insight allowing you to continue optimizing your personalized ads to audience cohorts based on granular insight into creative performance. Just as we operate today, we will work with the data sent to us directly from the media platforms. Any changes to the output from Facebook and Google will be a result of their handling of IDFA and will be reflected in our reports. Our own data and insights will remain a layer on top of what we are able to capture via the platforms’ reporting outputs.

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