ATT – App Tracking Transparency – what is it?

ATT – App Tracking Transparency – what is it?

App Tracking Transparency (ATT) is Apple’s privacy framework that requires iOS apps to obtain user consent before sharing their data. It introduced a popup where users can choose to allow or deny tracking.

What is the purpose of ATT (App Tracking Transparency)?

ATT was implemented on Apple devices with the release of iOS 14 and enforced after iOS 14.5. Its objective is to restrict the amount of user data that app developers can share with third-party companies, significantly impacting the mobile advertising industry.

Previously, iPhone users were automatically opted-in for data tracking, unless they actively opted-out through the Limit Ad Tracking setting. This allowed developers and marketers to access user-level data and attribution through the IDFA (iOS advertising identifier).

With ATT, users must actively opt-in to data tracking through the in-app popup. As a majority of users choose to opt out, it poses a challenge for advertisers, publishers, and developers to target specific audiences and optimize campaigns based on user-level data.

What does ATT (App Tracking Transparency) look like?

The core component of ATT is the in-app popup, known as the ATT prompt, which asks users if they want to allow the app to track their activity across other apps and websites. Users have the option to opt-out or opt in, with opt-out being the default setting. While the wording of the prompt cannot be changed, there are strategies to improve opt-in rates.

Note that apps are not obligated to display the ATT prompt since it is opt-in. If developers choose not to show it, they will not gather user-level data in return. However, the prompt provides an opportunity for apps to gather data that can enhance performance and inform benchmarking and extrapolations. This is why most apps (around 70%) choose to display the prompt.

The ATT (App Tracking Transparency) prompt is not a requirement for apps

The display of the ATT prompt is optional for apps. Developers have the choice of whether to show it or not, as it is an opt-in feature. If they decide not to show the prompt, they will not gather user-level data in return. The ATT prompt presents an opportunity for apps to collect user-level data, which can enhance performance and provide insights for benchmarking and extrapolations. This is why the majority of apps (approximately 70%) choose to display the prompt.

How did things work before the introduction of ATT (App Tracking Transparency)?

Before the introduction of ATT, app developers, and publishers had access to a vast amount of data. Apple operated under the Limited Ad Tracking (LAT) model, which allowed users to opt out of personalized advertising.

Despite the option to opt-out, the majority of users (around 70%) did not exercise this choice. As a result, publishers and advertisers were able to sell and share user data with other companies, apps, and advertisers, enabling highly targeted ad campaigns based on user behaviors, demographics, and interests. This approach optimized performance but compromised user privacy.

What impact does ATT (App Tracking Transparency) have on advertisers?

The transition from an opt-out to an opt-in model on iOS has resulted in decreased tracking rates, but global adoption of ATT stands at a respectable 46%. However, this figure only represents users who have actually encountered the prompt. The main challenge for advertisers lies in the low IDFA attribution rate.

Adapting to the new data landscape

User-level data and attribution have played a crucial role in optimizing ad campaigns. However, the shift to aggregate-level data has made it challenging for advertisers and publishers who were accustomed to working with granularly targeted campaigns. This lack of detailed data has had an impact on their advertising strategies.

It’s important to note that the industry is still undergoing a transition, and as we adapt to the new reality of aggregate-level data insights, measurement capabilities are expected to be largely retained while innovating in this space.

Missing out on a significant user cohort

One major challenge arises from the large cohort of users who cannot be tracked. Users who previously opted out of personalized advertising under the Limited Ad Tracking (LAT) model are now automatically labeled as “denied” to advertisers. This cohort represents over 30% of global iOS devices. Additionally, approximately 14% of Apple users utilize restricted devices, which are used by underage or unknown-age users and for educational purposes. Some corporate-owned devices also limit tracking capabilities.

User experience concerns

Certain app developers have expressed concerns regarding the wording of the ATT prompt (“allow the app to track your activity across other companies’ apps and websites”) and its potential negative impact on user experience. The perceived negative language may increase churn and hinder the overall user experience.

Friction from the dual opt-in process

Another significant factor contributing to low IDFA attribution rates, despite relatively high ATT opt-in rates, is the dual opt-in requirement. When advertising on different apps, users need to opt into tracking twice: once from the advertiser’s side and once from the publisher’s side. This dual opt-in process adds friction and complexity to the attribution loop, affecting the overall IDFA attribution rates.

How to increase ATT opt-in rates

Increasing opt-in rates for App Tracking Transparency (ATT) is crucial for advertisers looking to gather user data. Here are some strategies to help boost opt-in rates:

  1. Build trust: Trust is a key factor in users’ decision to opt-in. If your app or brand is well-known or trusted, users are more likely to feel comfortable sharing their data. For new apps, focus on creating a safe and trustworthy user experience.
  2. Experiment with a pre-prompt: Consider using a pre-prompt, a popup that appears before the ATT prompt, to educate users about the benefits of personalized advertising. Customize the messaging to highlight how it enhances their app experience. Keep the message concise, genuine, and compelling.
  3. Prompt strategy: Determine when and why to show the prompt based on user behavior and the value your app provides. Here are three possible stages to consider:a. Early funnel: Display the ATT prompt during the first app launch, first session, early level completion, or when users return to the app for the first time. This approach reaches a larger audience but may feel intrusive to new users.b. Mid funnel: Trigger the ATT prompt after specific actions or milestones within the app, such as account creation or when users experience the first value moment. Capitalize on positive user experiences to increase opt-in rates.

    c. Bottom funnel: Target users who have already made in-app purchases or engaged deeply with the app. This smaller audience segment is highly trusted and more likely to opt-in.

  4. Customize your approach: Remember that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. The optimal prompt strategy depends on your objectives, target audience, and familiarity with your brand or app. Consider the tradeoff between audience size, campaign optimization, and opt-in rates unique to your situation.

By implementing these strategies and continually refining your approach, you can increase the likelihood of users opting into ATT, allowing you to gather valuable data while respecting user privacy preferences.

What about Android? Following Apple’s significant announcement, Google introduced increased privacy measures for all Android devices starting with Android 12 and future versions.

Similar to Apple’s previous model, Google’s update allows users to opt out of personalized advertising.

With Google’s plans to deprecate cookies in 2023, it is expected that Google will also restrict user-level data sharing through its Google Advertising ID (GAID), which is Android’s equivalent of IDFA. However, the restrictions are not anticipated to be as stringent as Apple’s policy.

Good to know: Practical tips for users Now that you understand the implications and significance of App Tracking Transparency (ATT), let’s discuss what this means for you as a user. For iPhone, iPad, and tvOS users, you don’t need to take any action to opt out of ad tracking.

Apple has updated its informational guide called “Day in the Life of Your Data,” which outlines the benefits of ATT for everyday users.

How to ensure ATT is enabled on your device On your iPhone, open Settings, then select Privacy. You will see an orange icon labeled Tracking. Tap on it, and you will find a toggle switch that reads “Allow Apps to Request to Track.”

The master toggle enables or disables app tracking for all apps. You can also individually select the apps for which you want to allow tracking.

How to modify a specific app tracking decision If you change your mind, it’s simple to prevent the ATT popup from appearing on your iOS or iPad OS devices. Just follow the same steps mentioned above: go to Settings, Privacy, and then Tracking. Toggle the tracking switch on or off to make the desired changes.

Key information about ATT (App Tracking Transparency) to remember

  • App Tracking Transparency (ATT) requires iOS 14.5+ apps to seek permission through a popup before sharing user data.
  • Prior to Apple’s privacy push, app developers and publishers had access to substantial amounts of user-level data.
  • ATT opt-in rates are relatively high, but there are challenges with attribution and campaign measurement due to dual opt-in requirements and user experience concerns.
  • To increase opt-in rates, app developers should identify the most appropriate funnel stage for showing the prompt.
  • Google is also taking steps to enhance privacy on Android devices, allowing users to opt out of data tracking starting with Android 12 and future versions.

Was this article helpful?

Support us to keep up the good work and to provide you even better content. Your donations will be used to help students get access to quality content for free and pay our contributors’ salaries, who work hard to create this website content! Thank you for all your support!

Reaction to comment: Cancel reply

What do you think about this article?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked.