Apple recently revealed that it would give users the option to block the IDFA identifier at the app level as part of the iOS 14 update. Among other changes, what this means is that the iOS 14 update will require apps to ask users for permission to collect and share data.


IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers) is a special mobile device identifier which is used to target and calculate user-level advertisement efficacy across mobile devices. Launched back in 2012, Apple’s Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) is a random user identifier assigned to each user’s iOS device. IDFA enables digital ad networks, such as Facebook and Google, to control the actions of iOS users through a vast website and mobile app ecosystem, allowing these networks to access individualized data insights that power the targeted ads that all of us see every day. 


With the introduction of a new mobile operating system for iPhones and iPads, iOS 14, instead of abolishing IDFA, Apple has released an upgrade that has completely shaken up the AdTech industry. Users are now asked for permission to be monitored through apps operated by businesses while accessing an app. In the past, users had to restrict monitoring controls and transparency features in the setting of an app; which were concealed in the depths of the settings of a computer. Now, it’s easier than ever to refuse an entry.

This ambitious move would certainly pose a significant threat to the $581.9 billion industry. In Q1 2020, consumer spending on iOS reached $15 billion, which is far higher than Android spending ($8.3 billion); which brings us to a very simple conclusion: advertisers may end up reducing their iOS ad spending budgets, as calculations will not be as reliable and efficient as before the changes.

Both Facebook and Google may bear the brunt of these modifications. Both players are at the top of the ad spending chain and have so far been impeccable in their way of targeting ads in high-value contexts. All this, however, looks likely to change. Obviously, they’re still going to make billions on app advertisements, but targeting consumers and delivering targeted ads would be much harder.


For a lot of advertisers, these changes are going to be an important challenge. But that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing that can be done. Brands should consider setting up a task force or cross-functional team comprising both their marketing organization and their developer teams in order to analyze the possible effect of this change on their company and determine a plan to mitigate it as much as possible. Brands should:

  • Identify which marketing strategies and/or technologies that they leverage are reliant on IDFAs to function properly.
  • Work with relevant suppliers and technology partners that provide functionality related to IDFA in order to fully understand the available options—and review the in-depth research and action items already put together by these organizations.
  • Prepare for iOS 14-related developer modifications.

Addressing these changes can be painful for certain brands, but not as painful as doing nothing. By the time the deadline passes, if your app is not ready to support iOS 14, you will not be able to receive IDFAs from all of your users and any and all IDFA-dependent programs or innovations that you may exploit to reach your customers will grind to stop, resulting in ad experiences that might come off as frustrating or irrelevant. 

The matter of the fact is: we can have data protection without data privacy, but we can’t have data privacy without data protection. The Tech Giants are competing with each other when it comes to proposing new features or ideas for customer privacy and data protection. As a result, leading corporations not only want to ensure data protection, but also form the new era of digital ads, one that pleases end-users and retains a market place. Apple’s move is undoubtedly causing some chaos, but it has also produced fresh opportunities.

By Musarrat Sarwar Chowdhury

Leave a Reply