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Ryan Afshar, Head of Addressability – UK, LiveRamp

Digital advertising has faced huge challenges over the past two-plus years with the growing restrictions on the use of personal data. While the industry may be getting to grips with this across the open web, for mobile advertisers the continued focus on data regulation by mobile operating systems is a major cause for concern — both for brands and publishers. 

The introduction of the App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework, which requires publishers to request user consent, has led to an ever greater number of iPhone users worldwide choosing to opt out. This is leaving iOS advertisers with fewer identifiers that they can use to target their required audiences and create effective campaigns. The knock-on effect of this is that publisher revenue is taking a significant hit. Indeed, it was predicted that ATT will cost publishers around $12.8 billion in revenue this year.

With Apple likely to introduce further limits, and upcoming privacy changes for Android in 2024, this situation is only likely to become more challenging for advertisers and publishers over the coming months and years.

The reality is that, if the mobile ad industry is to continue to deliver data-driven marketing tactics that can provide effectiveness at scale, they need to have better control over their customer data to build strategies powered by identity. 

To achieve this, publishers and brands need to shift their focus away from traditional mobile identifiers and instead start to build-out an ecosystem that is centered around authenticated, consented first-party data. 

The Benefits of People-Based Marketing

Shifting their focus to first-party data will require publishers and brands to develop closer relationships with their consumers. This will, in turn, help rebuild the trust that many have seen eroded owing to the less-than-transparent use of mobile device IDs and other tracking in the past. 

Rebuilding these relationships will help both parties to deliver better business outcomes than device identifiers could ever provide, including greater return-on-ad-spend (ROAS), more accurate measurement and larger audience reach.

Already, we are seeing new addressable solutions outperforming older techniques based around mobile identifiers. This means that there’s a strong chance that brands and publishers that make the move to people-based identifiers early will reap considerable rewards.

And all of this can be done while ensuring that they remain privacy-compliant.

A More Independent Ecosystem

On top of this, changing the way advertisers approach their media buying and measurement will bring more freedom to execute it across the whole ecosystem and will go a long way toward sustaining mobile advertising.

This is because creating their own stores of authenticated first-party data will shift control of data and tracking back to the brand and the publishers, preventing them from being susceptible to any further changes and developments introduced by tech giants.

So, how can mobile publishers and advertisers shift toward a more independent ecosystem that enables this people-based marketing and restores the fair value exchange between brands and consumers?

The Importance of the Value Exchange

Central to the success of any first-party data strategy is a fair value exchange — this means offering the user something of value in exchange for allowing their data to be used for enhancing their experience within the app.

For the most part, this means offering things such as a personalized experience, access to or recommending exclusive content, special offers or a newsletter. In addition, many publishers and brands may also already have some first-party data spread across other areas of the business such as customer relationship management (CRM) systems, point-of-sale data, customer service details or billing, and these should be integrated into any new strategy moving forward.

To facilitate and further the collection of authenticated first-party data — if they don’t already have it in place — brands and publishers need to provide a means for the consumer to authenticate, which may come in the form of email address, phone number or even a social log-in. When presenting this option, it is important that users are informed about exactly what value they gain from agreeing to register, as well as having control over what details they choose to share and how they are used.

Ultimately, people-based marketing creates a digital advertising ecosystem in which the relationship between advertisers and mobile app publishers can be strengthened and ultimately deliver enhanced campaign results for the brand.

This closer relationship will be even more imperative for brands and publishers in the future. It will ensure that they continue to thrive in the mobile advertising landscape, outside of the restrictions of operating system owners, and maintain a competitive, diverse and privacy-focused solution to the challenge of connecting with their target markets.

Disclaimer: The views, opinions and ideas expressed in this post belong to the author/s and do not necessarily reflect those held by State of Digital Publishing.

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