Apple's Latest IDFA Move, And What It Might Mean For The Industry

By Thomas Sommer | February 3rd, 2014
As reported by TechCrunch (and originally by TapStream), Apple has started cracking down and rejecting apps retrieving their users' IDFA for other purposes than displaying advertising. This is due to an overlooked clause in the developer guidelines:3.3.12:
"You and Your Applications (and any third party with whom you have contracted to serve advertising) may use the Advertising Identifier, and any information obtained through the use of the Advertising Identifier, only for the purpose of serving advertising. If a user resets the Advertising Identifier, then You agree not to combine, correlate, link or otherwise associate, either directly or indirectly, the prior Advertising Identifier and any derived information with the reset Advertising Identifier."
The tricky part is that this clause limits the retrieval of IDFA to apps serving the ads, in other words to publishers. In practice, this would mean that advertisers can no longer access their users' IDFAs for reasons other than displaying ads. As a reminder, the IDFA is currently the only hardware identifier still in use after Apple forbade cookies, deprecated UDIDs, and rendered all other device IDs obsolete with iOS 7 (openUDIDs and MAC Addresses).The interesting part is that there is no real point in accessing IDFAs from the publisher side alone, as advertisers need an identifier to attribute and account for installs. In turn, this could affect CPI-based advertising campaigns based on Apple's identifier. Additionally, it might affect all third-party solution providers that use the IDFA for other purposes than serving ads, such as:
  • IDFA-based attribution tracking solutions
  • IDFA-based retargeting solutions
  • IDFA-based in-app analytics solutions
In any case, advertisers can still use other tracking solutions for install attribution, such as fingerprinting.The actual effects of this regulation on the ecosystem are yet left to be seen and we will keep you posted on further developments in this space.

Thomas Sommer
Thomas heads up content marketing at AppLift. As such he’s in charge of sourcing, curating, creating and distributing insightful content to increase visibility and thought leadership for the company. Thomas loves to scrutinize the relentless and trilling developments of the mobile industry. You can follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.