The only constant in the gaming industry is change. And with the changes, the upcoming updates to the UA and the advertising ecosystem in iOS 14 are pretty extensive for game makers. And while Apple recently announced that some of its most disruptive changes won’t be enforced until early 2021, it’s never too early to start planning.
The good news is that developers will have an overlap between the current and the next world for a few months, with all tracking being done through Apple’s SKAdNetwork. This overlap will help create a smoother transition so teams can work with the new tools, run UA in the new ecosystem, and optimize IDFA opt-in rates.
Not sure what to expect when the new version of iOS releases, or what you and your team should be doing to prepare? This guide shows what developers need to know about iOS 1
One of the biggest changes as part of the iOS 14 update is the App Tracking Transparency Framework. Essentially, developers now have to explicitly ask players to consent to their usage data being shared, and many unique advertising identifiers are no longer available. This limits the ability of developers to track user actions after installation, target users in advertising campaigns, create performance dashboards at the user level, monetize via ads, etc.
While between 10 and 30 percent of iOS users are currently restricting ad personalization and 15 percent are currently using restricted ad tracking to turn off their IDFA, we estimate that 80% of users will limit tracking once iOS 14 does Tracking enabled explicitly. in the.
How will this affect developers?
These changes will dramatically change the advertising and user acquisition ecosystem on iOS. Specifically:
- The line between paid and organic installations and income is becoming more blurred
- The efficiency of user acquisition will decrease
- User-level ad reports are not functionally possible on iOS
- Retargeting campaigns are no longer possible on iOS
- Apple’s SKAdNetwork could become the new “source of truth” for ad allocation on iOS as it is adopted by the biggest gamers
- Events after the installation are (mostly) only attributable for 24 hours.
- The efficiency of ad monetization will drop significantly
How Can studios prepare for iOS 14?
While many of the changes in iOS 14 are incredibly disruptive, there are things any team can do today to make sure they are able to adapt to and evolve these latest changes.
First, developers should invest time in making sure their SDKs are up to date. It’s hard to overstate the importance of being up-to-date, and we’re always amazed at how many teams keep their SDKs out of date.
Whether it’s attribution, analytics, ad monetization, or otherwise, virtually everyone needs to update their SDK to support iOS 14. All of your SDKs are important, but here are some that we think are most important in order to prioritize:
- Attribution (Customize, Appsflyer, Branch, Singular, etc.)
- Advertising brokerage and adapters (AdMob, Applovin MAX, Ironsource, etc.)
- Google Firebase
- Analytics system if required
- Define how you will manage your SKAdNetwork implementation and test it
Second, we encourage developers to start tracking their top of funnel now. Since iOS 14 will make it very difficult to optimize for down-funnel events like purchases, subscriptions, and late game milestones, it’s important to understand which early game events affect the LTV.
Tracking and assigning value to early funnel events like completing tutorials, ad monitoring, and completing early levels is critical to optimization.
Third, developers should consider increasing their iOS budgets. $ 1 worth of spending will go much further today than it will be in a few months.
Finally, developers need to think strategically about how to ask for consent in order to track users. While the message asking users for consent is consistent for all apps and is dictated by Apple, developers have the option to include their own message for customers at the end of the request and also have full control over the context in that they ask. By this point, make sure your players are happy with the user experience and make sure they understand why tracking improves that experience.
This is a big question for most people, so try to make it worthwhile. Consider offering in-game rewards or a more personalized user experience. Remember, you only have one chance to ask, so timing is important too!
Here are a few things our team is currently working on with our partner studios in preparation for the upcoming changes to iOS 14:
- Stay in regular communication with our developer partners, ad networks, mobile measurement partners, and the technology team to understand best practices, communicate insights, and refine our action plans for these rapidly changing changes
- Draw last minute information from additional sources like Facebook as teams start final implementation
- Quality assurance of our updates and monitoring by Apple for later guidelines and adjustments; be prepared for the unexpected
As mentioned earlier, the only constant in game development is change. So it’s important that we all be nimble in the coming weeks to adapt to this game-changing update to the iOS ecosystem.
Jean-Sebastien Laverge, SVP for Growth at Tilting Point, has more than 15 years of experience and knowledge in all areas of the mobile games industry (production, marketing, app store and more).