Facing IDFA Challenges with A/B Testing & ASO

IDFA deprecation and A_B testing

In June 2020, Apple announced by far the biggest news for the mobile marketing industry – IDFA deprecation to come with iOS 14. The changes have been put off until early 2021, and app marketers and publishers took advantage of that postponement to adjust their strategies. 

The industry has been actively discussing the issue and ways to overcome the upcoming challenges. In our App Growth Talk with Thomas Kriebernegg, CEO and co-founder of App Radar, says:

With IDFA there will be a lot of changes happening to the industry. I think right at the moment it’s really hard to predict what exactly those changes will be. Also, the people that I’m talking to, most of them, are waiting. 

Waiting or proactively adapting is what the industry does now, but one thing is obvious – IDFA deprecation is certainly the way things are going to be. Here’s a quick recap of what is happening: the new App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework will require that app publishers explicitly ask users to allow their advertising data to be tracked through IDFA by showing a pop-up message.  

IDFA deprecation_pop-up

The bad news about Apple’s pop-up is that it is shown to app users only once so you have only one chance to win the audience and thus boost your opt-in rates and enrich the trackable user bucket. 

As for good news: firstly, the message is partially editable so you can play with the wording until you get the best possible messaging that convinces users to tap “Allow Tracking”; secondly, app publishers can control the timing, or when they show the pop-up message to their users, which might help warm the user up through an engaging in-app experience and, for example, your internal pop-ups explaining users’ value of granting consent. 

Regardless of these ways to influence opt-in rates, the industry expects them to be pretty low. Although Apple put off IDFA deprecation until a later date, some publishers tried to incorporate the new ATT framework into their apps ahead of time. According to AppsFlyer, 99% of users choose not to allow tracking. As of October 2020, the percentage of devices with zeroed IDFA amounts to 35%:

iOS devices with zeroed IDFA

So, what do such opt-in rates mean for mobile app advertising? 

  • Lower traffic attribution quality. Attribution relies on IDFA to a big extent. A specific identifier of the user’s device helps link an install and in-app activity to an ad which that user taped on. Due to depersonalization of user data after the ATT framework comes into full force, marketers will not be able to measure the value of their ad spend accurately, which will make campaign optimization challenging. 
  • Poor targeting accuracy. IDFA ties user behavior within the app (in-app purchases, level completion, etc.) to specific users and the source they come from. Such post-install data are used by Facebook and Google to power their sophisticated ad serving infrastructure. Lack of user-level information limits the ability to understand which users are valuable to be shown an ad to as they are likely to perform profit-generating in-app actions. With the IDFA deprecation, the ads will be served to a much wider audience.

Moreover, as retargeting and lookalike audiences rely on IDFA, they will only be available for those users who granted their consent to be tracked.

  • Higher acquisition costs. After the implementation of the new ATT framework, the quality of users you’re reaching out to will be significantly lower. Ads are going to be shown to a broader audience, which will lead to fewer installs as there will be fewer specific targeted users getting into the funnel. The loss of ads personalization will push CPIs up.

In the context of such changes to the ecosystem and fewer user data available, UA managers will inevitably have even less control over targeting, which ultimately puts even more leverage on the creatives. Hence, the role of A/B testing and ASO gets even more fundamental.

Rising to post-IDFA challenges with ASO & A/B testing 

After IDFA changes are introduced, advertisers will have trouble reaching out to relevant users, so their top of funnel metrics (click-through rates and install rates) are going to drop, which is likely to push bottom of funnel metrics down as well.  

Conversion optimization through creative A/B testing and ASO is getting really important post-IDFA as optimized banners and product pages will help reaching out to the most targeted users and thus decrease CPI. 

Let’s take Facebook for example, where you choose to be charged for impressions. The more banner clicks and app installs you get, the lower your CPI will be. When your ad is being shown to a wider audience, which will happen post-IDFA, you’re going to get fewer installs, so your CPI will increase

A/B testing helps identify the visuals that would pick out the audience you need most.

For example, you build a hypothesis that for your game’s audience male characters are more likely to drive conversion rather than female characters placed on App Store screenshots. Using the SplitMetrics platform you check that hypothesis and, if proven, you put male characters on your game’s product page. Moreover, after that you might want to place the winning art adapted to Facebook on your banners and here’s what happens: 

  • Ad banners optimized for specific users will pick out that audience out of the wide targeting, while the rest will ignore the ad. Thus you increase your click-through rate and improve chances of attracting the needed users to the App Store. 
  • The App Store product pages optimized for specific users pick out the audience who is interested and most likely to tap “Get”. The boosted TTR and Conversion Rate will result in more installs. And more installs mean lower CPI. 

So, with fewer user-level data to be available after IDFA deprecation and campaign optimization shifting even more to probabilistic, UA managers will inevitably have even less control over targeting capabilities, which ultimately gives more power to creatives, making them more important than ever.

SplitMetrics & IDFA deprecation: will A/B tests be affected?  

You might have this question if you already run or only plan to run A/B tests on the SplitMetrics platform. The short answer is “No”.

SplitMetrics doesn’t use IDFA to track user behavior whatsoever. Once Apple’s new ATT framework comes into force, this identifier will be obtained after the user grants their consent from inside the iOS app

In turn, our A/B testing platform deals with the pre-install user behavior on the emulated App Store product page, search page or top charts. Our system tracks user behavior by assigning users custom client IDs. IDFA has nothing to do with this tracking process. 

If you feel like working on your ASO with A/B testing to nail the upcoming app marketing changes – increase in costs and poor targeting, – see for yourself how SplitMetrics A/B experiments work. Request a free demo tour of the platform