End of the Year Review: Apple’s ATT Update

It’s been about eight months since Apple released its controversial “App Tracking Transparency (ATT)” update. With 2022 on the horizon, let’s take a look at how the privacy requirement has affected some of tech’s biggest players. To review, ATT is Apple’s privacy protection framework for Apple device owners. With ATT, when an Apple device owner downloads or opens an app, a notification pops up asking if the user wants to be tracked across third-party apps and websites. Specifically, marketers will be required to ask users’ permission to track them across apps and websites owned by companies other than Apple. Since Apple rolled out ATT a few months ago, it’s been the talk of the industry. We now have a glimpse into how some of the biggest platforms were affected. When users get asked on iPhone devices if they’d like to be tracked, the vast majority say no. In fact, people give iOS apps permission to track their behavior just 25% of the time. The big media platforms have definitely felt the impact:

Facebook: The social media giant slightly missed Q3 expected results and it was mostly because of Apple’s changes. Overall, they are rebuilding their systems to work with less data but “it will take years, not months,” according to Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. Facebook (FB) Q3 2021 earnings report

Google: Better than expected Q3 results and Apple’s changes had a “modest impact on YouTube revenues.” Alphabet (GOOGL) earnings Q3 2021 

Twitter: At expectations, also mentioned Apple had less of an impact than expected. Twitter (TWTR) earnings Q3 2021 

Snapchat: Yikes. Just yikes. Snap earnings Q3 2021 

The Bottom Line: While the advent of ATT has complicated things, there are still paths to success. Regardless of where you invest advertising dollars, focus on a few elements that are critical to success on all platforms:

  • What’s your budget? If you’re working with a limited budget, it’s important to understand what your money will buy. ATT’s data restrictions add new complexity to developing an attribution model that is accurate & helps you plan for a measurable return. 
  • What data can you own? Even with ATT limiting brands’ ability to track users, on-platform engagement metrics (e.g., Facebook & Instagram’s likes/comments/shares/video views, etc.) are “ownable” metrics, which can help refine your targeting & grow retargeting pools. 
  • What is your metric for success? If you’re new to the market and focused on broadly-defined reach & frequency, your ads can be optimized for those goals & not rely on metrics that are unavailable because of ATT restrictions. 

There is always a way to succeed, despite ATT & other factors complicating your business strategy. But you need a specific plan tailored to each vertical and the knowledge to interpret the results. Short on time? We’re here to help. Send an email to ed@mittcom.com for a complimentary audit.