• Advertising

The Benefits of Mobile in a Post-IDFA Landscape

Team InMobi
Team InMobi
7 min read
Posted on January 24, 2022
The Benefits of Mobile in a Post-IDFA Landscape

Apple’s launch of its App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework has sent shockwaves throughout the mobile advertising industry. By making IDFAs (Apple’s device-level Identifier for Advertisers) available to advertisers and ad tech only on an opt-in basis, in-app advertising is not as targeted as it once was.  

In addition, Google made two major decisions around identity and privacy last year. For one, Google began enabling Android users to opt out of device-level tracking last year. In addition, Google announced that it would officially phase out support for third-party cookies in Chrome by 2023. 

As all this shows, the future of mobile advertising is increasingly privacy first. Even in this current privacy-first landscape, here’s why advertisers should still invest in mobile, along with how they can still ensure success. 

TL;DR Version: 

  • Mobile is the dominant media in our lives, with consumers using a wide variety of free, ad-supported apps throughout their typical day – up to four hours a day by some estimates. 
  • Even without individual identifiers like the IDFA, it’s still possible to target and reach the right audiences as well as measure mobile advertising performance effectively. 
  • Options like on-device targeting (in which data never leaves the device) enable advertisers to reach highly targeted mobile audiences even without device IDs. 
  • First-party data and data lakes will be more critical than ever as third-party identifiers go away. 
  • Privacy changes are not unique to mobile – third party cookies are going away for web advertising, and IP addresses may face a similar fate soon for OTT/Connected TV.  Rather than flee to another channel, brands must adapt and learn how to thrive in this new world of privacy-minded advertising. 

Mobile is Like Water: We Can't Live Without It 

Want to reach your best audience segments at scale going forward? Mobile has to be a key part of your media mix. 

In the U.S., consumers are expected to spend close to 4.5 hours a day on mobile in 2022, according to eMarketer’s estimates, with China expected to reach this level of mobile consumption by 2023In Canada and in the U.K., over a third of all time spent with media is devoted to mobile. 

And much of this time spent in mobile is devoted to apps. Apps will account for over 82% of time on smartphones in the U.S. in 2023, eMarketer forecasts. And, Americans check their phones over 260 times per day on average, which means that most people in the U.S. look at their phones around once every five minutes. 

Can Mobile Audiences Be Reached Through Advertising? 

It’s also worth noting that most of us use a wide variety of apps in a given day or month. According to Sensor Tower, Americans use over 45 different apps a month. Not only are most of these apps free to download, but many monetize through advertising. 

Leading the charge here is mobile gaming. According to Sensor Tower, a full third of all apps owned by U.S. smartphone owners are games. And time spent playing mobile games is expected to rise by 17% between 2019 and 2023, eMarketer predicts

Interactive Mobile Formats Drive Engagement 

Not only is mobile where most of us spend our time, but it also offers several uniquely engaging ad formats not available in other media channels. Mobile is an inherently interactive media source, and the best ads take advantage of this functionality. Here are just a few examples of mobile-first creative options: 

  • Ads that include/feature augmented reality (AR) – example 

  • Interactive/clickable display ads – example 
  • Interactive/clickable video ads – example 
  • Playable ads – example 
  • Ads that include microphone interactivity – example 
  • Ads that include drag-and-drop functionality – example 
  • Ads with wiping interactivity – example 
  • Video ad with interactive end card – example 

In addition to all of these interactive ad formats, many of the more standard mobile ad formats are proven to be highly effective. For example, InMobi’s own data has found that, compared to the average click-through rate (CTR) for banner ads, vertical videos perform 11x better. Further, compared to static banners, native ads have a 4x better engagement rate. 

Brands can see huge value in banner ads on mobile too, especially when it incorporates rich media functionality. Not only are banners more cost effective than other formats, they are also ideal for reaching audiences at scale. 

Mobile Brings Measurability and Viewability 

One of the hallmarks of digital advertising over traditional media is how measurable it all is. While many current measurement models in mobile advertising rely on device IDs, the deprecation of IDFA and GAID (Google Advertising ID, which is the Android equivalent of IDFA) doesn’t mean that measurability is non-existent on mobile now. 

For one, many of the top-of-the-funnel metrics that advertisers have long relied on are still very much available. Think of viewability rate, CTR, video completion rate (VCR), invalid traffic rate, etc. 

Outside of the raw scale numbers like impressions, these kinds of key performance indicators are highly valuable. Viewability rates can tell an advertiser if their ad is being seen by the end user, while VCR can provide insights into whether the video ad is resonating with audiences. CTR is especially helpful, providing key insights into whether consumers are taking advantage of the ad’s call to action and actually driving results. 

The Top Mobile Addressability Solutions for 2022 

In a post-IDFA, privacy-first world, targeted advertising to individuals is severely curtailed. But it is worthwhile to note that addressability as a whole is not going away. Rather, achieving addressability with in-app advertising going forward will just have to evolve. 

Here are the solutions and options to consider solving for addressability in 2022 and beyond: 

  • On-device targeting: One of the interesting quirks of ATT is that it doesn’t prohibit the collection of personal data, even if someone opts out; rather, it just disallows the sharing of that data off the device. InMobi’s on-device targeting solution enables advertisers and publishers to maintain addressability for all users in a privacy-focused manner by using a probabilistic approach at the cohort level. This is how Apple’s internal advertising business operates without running afoul of its own privacy framework. As such, it’s possible that on-device targeting – in which data about a device/user is collected and used for advertising but never leaves the device – will become far more prevalent in the future, at least on iOS. It’s worth noting that this isn’t available at scale at the moment, but it likely will be at least starting in 2022. 
  • First-party data: ATT and the deprecation of third-party cookies are both about limiting the use of third-party identifiers. It is still very much possible for brands to collect and use their own first-party data for advertising purposes. In a world in which third-party data is not as clean nor as readily available, first-party data becomes that much more valuable. 
  • Data clean rooms: Data clean rooms are places where two or more entities can combine their respective data sets in a privacy-compliant manner. For example, let’s say a brand wanted to run a targeted ad campaign with InMobi. If the advertiser and InMobi both had data lakes, then those could be combined; when a match is identified, InMobi could then make sure those overlaps receive the targeted ads. 
  • Contextual targeting: Here, information about the content being consumed is used to help the advertiser make a highly reasonable assumption about who that person is and what kind of ad they might be receptive to seeing. For example, someone looking at multiple pieces of content in a sports-centric news app may be different than someone playing mobile games only between 5:15pm and 6pm during the work week. This kind of advertising has long underpinned print, radio and linear television advertising, all to great effect. And while it can seem like guesswork, thanks to the plethora of data still available in the in-app environment, it’s possible to be far more accurate than before even when just leveraging contextual targeting. 
  • Probabilistic attribution: Under this model, all available data is used to make a highly educated guess regarding who one or a particular group of consumers might be and what kinds of ads they might respond to. Probabilistic attribution is a wide umbrella but expect this kind of targeting to be more prevalent and more potent in the future. 

While ATT and the overall push towards a more privacy-first mobile advertising ecosystem are leading to a realignment of the old status quo, in-app advertising is far from over. Indeed, with the right mindset, technology and benchmarks, it’s perhaps even more valuable than ever before. 

Interested in learning more about the future of mobile advertising and what’s needed to be successful in 2022 and beyond? Reach out today to chat with the mobile experts at InMobi

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