Email marketers are correctly focused on Apple’s new Mail Privacy Protection (MPP), the one-company policy that is now removing the open rate as a metric.
But there’s one other thing they should worry about: Apple’s much-publicized App Tracking Transparency (ATT), which had a consumer opt-in rate of 32% at last count.
This has caused Apple’s Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) -- an ID for mobile devices -- to blow up, says Alex Bauer, head of strategy for mobile linking platform Branch.
Not that there has been overwhelming opt-in yet by consumers. “The number is right in the middle of expectations,” Bauer reports. “It’s not as high or low as predictions.”
What remains is “still not enough to be the system of record everywhere, he contends. The resulting metrics may be good enough for accounting, but not good enough to prove that marketing is worth the money being poured into it.
”What I see Apple doing is taking aim at the direction the iOS ecosystem is moving, and saying, ‘We don’t like the way it’s moving. We’re going to move in almost like a regulator and change the structure.’ Hopefully, they know what they’re doing.”
The answer to the loss of IDFA data is modeling, although this is not “resilient,” Bauer contends. “I’s incomplete data, but it will still give you a correctionally direct idea of the entire picture afterwards.”
Modeling is a venerable direct-marketing tactic that long pre-dated the digital, Bauer notes. “It’s a back to the future moment for mobile,” he laughs.
In the email realm, Apple is “not even blocking — they’re going to flood the data so it’s not usable at all,” Bauer says. “It’s the same kind of thing — Apple is thinking, ‘We’ve tried policy limitations in the past, and those don’t seem to have the effect we were looking for.’”
Can all this be seen a competitive strategy?”
“In Apple’s case, I think it’s a very good marketing move for them,” Bauer answers. “Consumers are very positive on what Apple is doing.”
Apple could also see this as “a way to expand their scope of interest into areas that were held by parallel competitors like Facebook and Google,” he adds.
What has been the impact to date? “The data coming isn’t statistically useful,” Bauer states.
“I haven’t seen too much shift in those numbers yet because Apple typically has two inflection points whenever they roll out new iOS.”
The first of these is when consumers themselves click the button. The second is when Apple pushes the button to make it universal, which still hasn’t happened so “the penetration level is still quite low,” Bauer notes.
Attribution is another serious issue, although Branch now has a web search attribution tool in beta that could help with that.
“It’s a little wonky to explain,” Bauer says. “The way things work today, if you have a user who searches on Google for Mexican food near them, they will get a list of results. And if they click them, they will go right into the app. It’s an invisible journey, a gap that falls between the SEO marketer and the app marketer.”
Bauer continues: “We’re going to enable this channel to make sure that data crosses between those two marketing kingdoms.”
Branch also offers a product called Universal Email that facilitates links between the email and app. But overall, there are “a lot of a lot of things still up in the air” in terms of the digital marketing picture, he acknowledges.