iOS 14.5: Introducing App Tracking Transparency

App Tracking Transparency is a new feature that will allow Apple device users to control, on an app-by-app level, whether or not their data is shared for ad-targeting purposes. App Tracking Transparency goes live, from 26/4/2021 as part of Apple's iOS 14.5 update, after a public beta. 

How does app tracking work? 

Every Apple device has an Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA), which is a random, unique code assigned to each device.

Advertisers use an IDFA to track data so they can deliver personalised advertising. The IDFA is used for tracking and identifying a user without revealing personal information.

An IDFA looks like this: [30255BCE-4CDA-4F62-91DC-4758FDFF8512]. 

What does this mean for digital marketing? 

Not being able to track user IDFAs has caused significant concern for companies that rely on advertising and data tracking. 

This directly impacts businesses of all sizes. From small businesses using simple retargeting over social media to enterprise businesses using sophisticated, hyper-targeted strategies to entice their audience to perform very specific actions.   

Without having access to an IDFA, personalised advertising will become tougher and will deprive marketers of key data on the performance of advertising campaigns.

Marketing to individuals will become harder based on their unique actions and behaviors which means performance tracking and modeling will have to adapt to the new digital landscape.

Impacts on Facebook advertising 

Facebook has been particularly vocal about this change as it impacts the Facebook Audience Network, the Facebook pixel, and the data derived from it. The data that will be directly affected includes conversion tracking, optimisation, targeting, and reporting of those actions.

App Tracking Permission

This article from Facebook's Business Help Centre details actions Facebook Business Manager users can take to help prepare for the change to advertising and reporting on the platform through Apple devices. 

Otherwise contact your digital marketing partner, like Internetrix, to have them apply the changes for you. 

New rules for developers 

All app developers must adhere to App Tracking Transparency rules that will require them to get express permission to track users across apps with the device's advertising identifier.

Unless apps receive permission from the user to enable tracking, the device’s advertising IDFA value will be all zeros, meaning that they cannot be tracked.

A zeroed-out IDFA will look like this: [00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000]. 


What are the features of an IDFA?

  • Each device has its own unique IDFA
  • It operates at a device level, meaning apps by different developers/publishers installed on the same device will have the same IDFA
  • Deleting an app will not reset/change the IDFA (because IDFAs operate at a device level)
  • Disabling and re-enabling app tracking of a device will reset its IDFA

How do I find my device's IDFA? 

Unfortunately, Apple does not provide a way to view an IDFA from within a device's settings. A third-party app needs to be installed. There are several apps Apple users can download to be able to view their IDFA, they include:

How do I reset my device's IDFA?

By resetting an IDFA, users are essentially forcing advertisers to start a new profile on a user's behaviour, habits, and interests, restarting all of their marketing efforts to target you. 

Fortunately, Apple has provided users the option of resetting their IDFA. This can be done by going to Settings > Privacy > Advertising > Reset IDFA 

It should be considered that resetting an IDFA might invalidate systems designed to respect choices in advertising. Resetting the IDFA may require resubmission of any requests or forms.

Can I disable app tracking altogether? 

There is a feature that can be found in the settings of an Apple device that will disable app tracking for the entire device, saving the user having to individually select the option for each app (if users so wish).

App tracking can be disabled by going to Settings > Privacy > Tracking > Turn off “Allow Apps to Request to Track” > Ask Apps to Stop Tracking

To wrap things up 

This latest update by Apple is their latest effort to improve privacy control for users in their product ecosystem. Moving forward expect companies, like Apple, to continuously update their privacy policies and software to give control back to their users. 

We hope you have found this blog helpful. If you need to know more about the latest data privacy trends, contact our digital analytics team!

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