Apple’s privacy changes on iPhone have cut the average mobile advertiser’s return on investment by almost 40% and caused them to drop mobile ad spend by 25%, according to a mobile measurement company’s data.
The company, however, says that they have a solution.
“We’re 100% committed to user privacy, and we’re also 100% committed to giving marketers the data and tools that help them drive massive growth,” Singular CEO Gadi Eliashiv said in a statement (full disclosure: Singular is a consulting client). “We’ve always believed those twin objectives are not in conflict, and now with our advanced AI and data science, we’ve delivered a solution that proves it.”
Eliashiv says that the advertising effectiveness issue that cost Facebook $10 billion and sent Snap’s stock tumbling 25% lower are fixable in a completely privacy-safe way. The solution: advanced data science, modeling, and machine learning.
Apple’s privacy changes revised the data marketers get about ad effectiveness, complete censoring some datapoints entirely while severely reducing the volume of post-ad-click conversion data marketers have historically been used to. Singular’s new technology models the missing data, however, and provides estimates for metrics advertisers have become accustomed to such as cohorts, return on ad spend, and life time value of new mobile app users or customers.
Which sounds great … if the estimates are accurate.
“I was kind of skeptical when we started, but … we’ve been researching this for a really long time,” Eliashiv says. “Our research showed that on average, we can get to something like 87% or 90% accuracy, which is pretty amazing.”
That’s good enough, marketers say, to know with reasonable certainty which campaigns are performing well and which aren’t. That in turn helps advertisers optimize their ad spend, making it more efficient and therefore more profitable.
And, not surprisingly, when ad spend is profitable, brands re-invest in more.
“Collecting and analyzing data from SKAdNetwork can quickly become a time-consuming pain. Singular’s SKAdNetwork suite has helped us improve significantly,” Marcus Dale, CTO of Qiiwi Games, said in a statement. “We’ve been able to optimize data collection and BI models to match our needs and to accurately predict future revenues.”
Other initial beta tester clients include Rovio, maker of the Angry Birds franchise, and Space Sheep Games, which makes games like Bid Wars (think Storage Wars on A&E).
The solution, called SKAN Advanced Analytics, includes technology to model missing events and conversions, additional software that maximizes the amount of data that Apple provides back to advertisers, real-time predictive analytics for ad campaign optimization, and estimated cohorts, a metric that helps mobile marketers measure the impact of their ad campaigns over time.
Eliashiv says it’s important for marketers to adopt Apple’s technology sooner rather than later.
“Some marketers are relying on fingerprinting and now there’s this entire fear that, oh no, what happens if Apple cracks down on it even more?’ he says.
Fingerprinting is a device identification and ad measurement solution that Apple prohibits, because it enables tracking and privacy violations by side-stepping Apple’s provided SKAdNetwork framework. Some mobile experts think that Apple is recently cracking down harder on apps that are using fingerprinting, and may completely close that option in the next major version of iOS:
Many larger brands, however, are being careful to follow Apple’s privacy rules not only out of an abundance of caution but also a feeling that privacy is the future.
“Our strategy has been to embrace the change in paradigm, turn this disruption into an opportunity to grow our business, and build a future-proof [user acquisition] infrastructure,” Kieran O’Leary, Rovio’s VP of Marketing, said in a statement. “Singular has undoubtedly been instrumental in helping us pioneer the new ways of running acquisition.”
If the technology works as advertised, that would seem to be the best of both worlds: advertising that works and can be measured for impact, and privacy that keeps not only each of us individually safe, but also makes it harder for rogue nations or groups to secretly impact electronic conversations by tracking people and targeting them with political or social messaging.