Tenjin: Privacy-related changes have put mobile marketing in a zombified state

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A year after Apple disrupted mobile advertising, companies are still in a “zombified” state when it comes to effectively finding mobile users through advertising, Tenjin and Growth FullStack said in a report today.

The release comes ahead of Apple’s latest Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), taking place today as a virtual event.


A year ago, Apple prioritized privacy over targeted advertising by changing the way users sign in using the Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA). The result was that fewer people agreed to be tracked, making it harder to target them with ads.

Mobile game advertisers have felt the impact of Apple’s privacy changes the most. They were more confident that mobile marketing would become more difficult in 2021 (68% gaming vs. 43% non-gaming), that they were more likely to shift budget to Android (63% vs. 48%), and that they would use attribution methods such as probabilistic attribution or use fingerprints (91% vs. 70%).

The companies released their first results in March and now have a full white paper available. Tenjin is a mobile measurement platform for independent and mid-sized mobile game publishers, while Growth FullStack is a custom business intelligence platform for mobile advertisers.

With billions of people spending up to a third of their waking hours shopping, socializing, scrolling and of course gaming on mobile, it’s no surprise that mobile advertising spending hit a whopping $300 billion in 2021. This amount could reach 350 dollars. billion in 2022, reflecting the strength of an industry boosted by lasting changes in user behavior caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic, the companies said.

But for an industry so used to knowing where their dollars are going and what their return on investment is at pinpoint granularity, the past year has been a wake-up call, they said. Privacy-focused changes have forever altered known methods of targeting and measuring ad performance, particularly in what is often viewed as the most lucrative ecosystem of all – Apple’s iOS.

Between bleak predictions and a picture of rising ad spend, the reality mobile advertisers operate in is far more nuanced. Wanting to dig deeper, Tenjin and Growth FullStack hired market research agency Atomik Research to conduct an online survey of over 302 mobile advertisers in the UK and US.

“While the ‘apocalypse’ may not have happened as originally anticipated, our research shows that tectonic shifts are indeed underway,” Tenjin CEO Christopher Farm said in a statement. “The reality is that the full implications of privacy-centric marketing are not yet understood, even by people like us who spend our days deciphering it and finding solutions.”

summary of results

Key findings from the report include that while the majority (55%) of mobile advertisers feel reasonably prepared for Apple’s privacy changes (53% likely, 15% very much), the majority (55%) say mobile advertising will be more difficult in 2021 has become. This is the case had a significant negative impact on advertisers’ revenue. The estimated average revenue loss due to Apple’s privacy changes was 39%.

Mobile advertisers use a patchwork of strategies to be successful. About 85% will use probabilistic attribution or fingerprinting in 2022, while more than three-quarters (77%) expected Apple to reduce fingerprinting.

Getting the most out of Apple’s anonymized SKAdNetwork data — a sort of ID replacement for advertisers who now have more obvious opt-in options — is a challenge for mobile advertisers. Few companies (32%) have access to in-house data science experts, but three-quarters (75%) have implemented some form of marketing automation to extract insights from large and diverse datasets.

Optimism for 2022

Despite a difficult 2021, mobile advertisers are largely positive and optimistic. About 85% were optimistic that marketing would be less difficult in 2022, while nearly two-thirds (65%) planned to increase rather than decrease their ad spend.

“Mobile marketing is best characterized as in a zombified state that sits somewhere between the familiar era of unrestricted targeting and the new era of privacy,” Farm said. “The sustainability of the current patchwork model remains to be seen. It is likely that in the not too distant future, the obligation to understand SKAN will become mandatory rather than optional.

He added: “Despite a challenging 2021 for mobile advertiser results and with more changes ahead, our research shows that advertiser optimism remains strong. Because one thing remains the same: the best mobile content and services are in high demand by billions of people around the world on both iOS and Android. »

Field research involved 302 companies with no known affiliation with Tenjin or Growth FullStack and was conducted by Atomik Research, an independent creative market research agency that employs MRS-certified researchers and adheres to the MRS Code.

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