Optimizing your opt-in tracking rates on iOS 14

and why it is so important.

iOS14 is expected to roll out in mid-September, and with it a major update to the digital marketing space, the AppTracking Transparency Framework (ATT). The big change is that, for each individual app, users will have to opt into that app using their IDFA (ID For Advertisers) for tracking and are opted out of tracking by default. Prior to iOS14 users have by default been opted into tracking for all apps and have had the option to opt out using the Limit Ad Tracking setting. This means it is very likely that your app will begin to receive significantly fewer IDFAs with the update. 

IDFA is critical for many features of today’s app marketing and I have listed the most important below. To keep this short and to the point I won’t go into any technical details here but reach out if you are interested.
>> Attribution (IDFA is currently the only way to track view-through conversions from the major networks)
>> Retargeting (IDFA is the gold standard for behavior based retargeting audiences)
>> Lookalike audiences (IDFA is used to map in app behavior to users)
>> App event optimization (IDFA loss limits the mapping of in app events to ad impressions)

While there are some solutions already being offered, and more likely to come, none are as close to the accuracy of the IDFA and not likely to get there soon either. That is why it is so important to get as many users as possible to opt in to tracking through your app since that is the only way to get IDFAs. Now, you may think: “but we don’t expect opt-in to be high regardless of what we do, so is it really worth prompting users if just 10-15% give consent?”. I would say absolutely! Those 10-15% can be critical for modelling the behavior of the remaining, opt-out audience. They will also be your seed audience for Lookalikes and possibly the only users you can retarget properly.

Below I will go into detail about how you can optimize your opt-in flow but in short, here are four areas to address with regards to optimizing your opt-in flow:

1. The permission prompt sub-header
2. When in the user life cycle you first prompt the user
3. If you should use a soft prompt or not
4. If/when to ask users who initially opted out for permission again using a soft prompt + deep link (you can only use the official prompt once)

The Opt-in flow

Asking the user for permission to use the IDFA is essentially like asking for any other device permission, like location services. You will have to prompt the user with a mostly predefined prompt shown below.

As you can see in the screenshot above, you can only customize the subheading. Experimenting with the subheading copy is a given way to optimize user opt in.

The more complex, but critical part, is to find the right moment in the user journey when the user is most likely to opt in. You can prompt the user only once but you can choose exactly when to do this.  Here are four commonly discussed times to serve the prompt:

First open – You can get access to the user’s IDFA as early as possible by prompting right away. Serving it at first open maximizes the number of users you will prompt as no user has churned yet. However, with the user unfamiliar with your app at this stage, you don’t get the benefit of trust and loyalty you may get from a user who has used the app. 

After some user milestone – There is likely a sweet spot along your user journey where you can possibly get the highest number of opt-ins. We recommend running tests to find this spot.

Soft prompt – This is an idea that has been drifted around in industry circles as a way to gauge users’ willingness to opt-in. Essentially, this means that your app sends it’s own prompt, which you can fully design yourself, and only when the user selects a certain alternative within that prompt would they get the actual permission prompt from Apple. This is great if you want to show a longer explanation around why you ask for consent to track or if you only want to prompt users who already indicate that they are willing to give consent. This blog post from Adjust goes into detail about such a solution in section 2. Consent. On the other hand, an initial study, available here by Adikteev, indicated that soft prompt led to worse opt-in rates. 

Never prompt – There is of course the option to not prompt at all and it has been considered by certain companies who are afraid a prompt could scare the users away. We do not recommend you pursuing this strategy as you will certainly lose a lot of important marketing capabilities.

If the user does not opt in

For users who opt-in, it will be business as usual. But how do you handle those that don’t opt in? Just as with other iOS permissions, a user can always enable tracking for your app through the iOS Settings. You should be able to send your own prompt later in the user life cycle and deep link the user to the iOS Settings in a similar fashion to how you can with other permissions like locations, camera roll etc. That way you can re-approach users who initially did not opt in but maybe have used the app alot and may be likelier to trust you.

Limiting the app for opt-out users

This is frequently discussed as a way to get users to opt-in, a bit like offering a free trial. One example is casual games that are dependent on ads revenue, something that will be significantly limited if users opt out. For casual games it could be reasonable to limit the app and explain to the user through a soft prompt that ads are necessary to keep the product free and encourage them to opt-in. If your app gets significantly impacted by users opting out of tracking it may be a good idea to consider if you should limit the app usage for opt out users.

Conclusion

Getting high opt-into tracking rates on iOS14 will be very importan to maintain critical marketing functionality around attribution, measurement and targeting on iOS. You should start testing today on when and how to prompt the user for tracking consent. The four important things to consider when optimizing the opt-in flow are:

1. The permission prompt sub-header
2. When in the user life cycle you first prompt the user
3. If you should use a soft prompt or not
4. If/when to ask users who initially opted out for permission again using a soft prompt + deep link (you can only use the official prompt once)


Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have questions about this. We are happy to discuss this both with existing and future clients.

🤓 Rikard Karlander
Head of Analytics, Twigeo
Rikard has an MSc in Engineering and Mathematics and has been active in the digital marketing sphere for five years. He has working experience with apps across all App Store categories through his time at Twigeo.

📅 August 25, 2020