In contrast to many mobile marketers’ perceptions, retargeting users on iOS is not just possible but an effective strategy for long-term growth. Today, almost half of YouAppi's campaign revenue comes from iOS users. In the third and final installment of our iOS Retargeting Series, we’re covering the iOS retargeting strategies we’ve honed since iOS 14.5 was launched. Keep in mind, these strategies may change with the launch of iOS 17 and Apple’s upcoming SkAdNetwork (SKAN 5.0).
For an in-depth iOS retargeting performance case study with Playstudios, watch our fireside chat with Maya Bibi, UA Manager at Playstudios at Israel Mobile Summit 2023.
iOS Retargeting Following iOS 14.5
With Apple’s ATT Framework came a new requirement for advertisers to gain opt-in consent from users in order to obtain their unique identifier, known as the IDFA. This limited the availability of user-level data to advertisers looking to retarget ads. Since iOS 14.5 was launched, we’ve found ways to fill in the data gaps left by the deprecation of the IDFA. Here are the best practices we’ve learned along the way.
iOS Retargeting Best Practices
#1: Implement an ATT opt-in prompt
The first step in collecting the data needed to retarget high-value customers on iOS is to get consent to use their IDFA. To do this, brands must implement an ATT opt-in prompt.
The ATT prompt asks users if they want to allow an app to track them “across other companies’ apps and websites.” This message is largely uncustomizable by app developers. Unfortunately, this lack of customization can limit app marketers’ ability to optimize the prompt to fuel higher consent rates. With that said, there are ways to add detail to your ATT opt-in messaging using a pre-permission prompt. A pre-permission prompt immediately precedes an ATT opt-in message. They give users more information about the benefits of opting in. This might include more relevant messaging and a customized user experience.
We highly recommend implementing a pre-permission prompt to increase opt-in rates. You should also keep in mind Apple’s requirements:
- Pre-prompts are limited to one CTA like “Read More,” “I understand,” or “Continue.”
- The CTA must directly open the system alert. This prevents developers from asking a user for their consent to share their IDFA more than once.
- Apps are forbidden from offering incentives or compensation in return for ATT consent.
#2: Build a dual opt-in approach
To scale growth despite the deprecation of the IDFA, many DSPs have found ways to blend deterministic and probabilistic data to target and customize ads. At YouAppi, we call this our “dual opt-in solution”.
There are several opt-in types based on whether a user has consented to sharing their IDFA on the demand side, supply side, or both. As DSPs sit on the demand side of the mobile programmatic ecosystem, only users who give demand side or dual consent are relevant to them.
At YouAppi, the data signals we use depend on which opt-in bucket the user falls into.
- Dual Consent: When a user selects “Allow” to an advertiser tracking their activity on both the demand and supply side. Currently, the average dual consent opt-in rate is ~30%. These users can be retargeted with ads on both the supply and demand side using deterministic data.
- Demand Side Consent: When a user selects “Allow” to an advertiser tracking their activity on the demand side but not on the supply side. Live demand side postbacks are collected from these users. From there, users are segmented and bid on programmatically using a mix of contextual and behavioral data signals. If we add demand-side to dual consent, we can reach a demand-side opt-in rate as high as 50%.
- Fully Probabilistic: Users that have not opted-in to sharing their IDFA on either the demand or supply side. These users will be identified and retargeted ads based on probabilistic data.
#3: Have patience and do extensive A/B testing
Reaching the same scale and revenue brands achieved pre-iOS 14.5 takes time. In our experience, mobile marketers must undertake extensive optimizations and A/B testing to find the right mix of campaign factors that drive success. In some cases, it can take nine months to a year to scale a campaign up to reach a positive ROAS on iOS.
As explained by YouAppi SVP of Global Product Growth, Hilit Miodiuser, when it comes to mobile retargeting on iOS “you need to find new trend lines.” The traffic and usage trends on iOS are different from those on Android. What’s important is having patience and watching that trend lines are moving in the right direction. That is — the cost per paying user (CPRU) is staying the same or going down, while spend levels and reactivations are going up. When exploring this approach, the percentage of ROAS can vary due to scaling up. But, eventually the goal is to find a new Baseline higher than before.
#4: Have a robust creative optimization strategy
Since the deprecation of the IDFA, creative design and strategy have emerged as key levers in mobile marketing campaign optimization. With user level data restricted, today, mobile marketers depend more on designing enticing ads than targeting algorithms to engage users. With that said, we recommend mobile marketers focus more resources on refreshing creatives and undertaking A/B testing to vet them. If your company does not have in-house creative resources, we recommend partnering with a DSP with a design team.
With the help of these best practices, we were able to drive an increase in eligible iOS users post iOS 14.5+ for Playstudios. When the campaign began, around 80K users were untapped and unknown. By utilizing both demand-side and dual consent opt-in layers, we were able to increase eligible users and KPIs for day 7, 14, and 30.
Contrary to some beliefs, retargeting on iOS is effective for successful, sustained growth. Today, almost half of campaign revenue at YouAppi comes from iOS users.
Best Practices for iOS Retargeting:
- Implement ATT Opt-In Prompt: Gain user consent by implementing an ATT opt-in prompt.
- Build a Dual Opt-In Approach: Blend deterministic and probabilistic data for effective targeting and customization.
- Patience and A/B Testing: Achieving pre-iOS 14.5 scale takes time and extensive A/B testing.
- Creative Optimization Strategy: Focus on creative design and A/B testing in the absence of user-level data.
- Achieving Positive ROAS on iOS: Scaling a campaign on iOS to achieve a positive ROAS may take several months. Patience and trend analysis are key.
- Importance of Creative Optimization: With limited user-level data, creative design and strategy play pivotal roles in campaign optimization. Invest in refreshing creatives and consider partnering with a DSP with a design team for optimal results.