Everything to Know About Apple’s iOS 14.5 Update

Apple first publicly announced iOS 14 in June 2020, which sent mobile marketers and advertisers into a frenzy. Over the last six months since the official release of iOS 14.0 in September 2020, Apple has introduced many new privacy features for consumers that will have a big impact on attribution for mobile marketers. With Apple’s most recent update, iOS 14.5, quickly approaching, app developers and marketers have very little time to prepare before Apple will begin enforcing its newest privacy features for all iOS users.

Here’s what we know so far about Apple’s iOS 14.5:

App Tracking Transparency (ATT)

One of the most anticipated features launching with iOS 14.5 is Apple’s new App Tracking Transparency (ATT). Traditionally, app developers and marketers have tracked user data with IDFAs (Identifier for Advertisers). IDFAs track when a user revisits a mobile app, comparable to cookies for web tracking. With the introduction of iOS 14.5, advertisers are now going to be required to request permission from their users to have access to the IDFA. As Apple introduces these new privacy measures, it will be important for mobile marketers to get creative. When strategizing for their app’s next retargeting campaign, it will be important to focus on how to utilize first-party data instead of third-party data if users don’t opt-in to tracking.

What is ATT?

ATT is Apple’s new user tracking framework aimed to protect user privacy, under which apps must first request permission from users to track their data. Up until this point, this data has been widely accessible to all app developers unless the user actively chose to disable app tracking within their device’s settings. Users’ identifiers will now only be accessible once the user has granted each individual app permission to track their in-app activity. As apps begin to implement ATT ahead of iOS 14.5, users will start to see pop-ups giving them the option to disable or opt-in to in-app tracking.

What to expect from ATT ahead of iOS 14.5 launch

Many companies have already begun implementing ATT, as this will soon be a requirement for all iOS users in the coming days. The launch of iOS 14.5 acts as more of a deadline for marketers and app developers to adopt Apple’s opt-in functionality. As tracking strategies shift to accommodate new privacy rules, many marketers’ main focus will be on maximizing app tracking opt-ins.

Based on a study by Harvard, increasingly privacy-conscious consumers have begun weighing their preference for personalization with their concern for privacy. While industry experts had predicted fairly low opt-in rates, there may be light at the end of the tunnel. Overall in March 2021, 41% of users have opted-in to ad tracking, with the average consenting user base per-app landing around 28%. While many marketers and developers are worried the number of users opting-in will still drop, some companies have begun having success with “just-in-time” consent prompts, also known as contextual consent prompts. The contextual consent prompts break the app’s long privacy policy into shorter segments as needed throughout the user journey. By breaking the privacy policy into shorter prompts, users are more inclined to opt-in as the content is more digestible


SKAdNetwork is Apple’s newest attribution methodology, which was originally slated to launch with the original iOS 14 update in September. However, after backlash from major advertisers and publishers alike, Apple withheld the release to give the industry more time to prepare. While many app marketers are concerned about this new update’s lack of tracking and user-level data, there are many pros and cons based on an app’s attribution strategy and campaign.

 What is the SKAdNetwork?

Apple unveiled another new framework option for mobile attribution with the introduction of the SKAdNetwork. Mobile marketers can use the SKAdNetwork to measure their ad campaign performance while still respecting user privacy. This methodology will not provide granular, user-level data, but instead, it will provide marketers and app developers a way to track campaign performance.

Features of SKAdNetwork

Of course, there are pros and cons to implementing the new SKAdNetwork framework for iOS campaign attribution tracking. SKAdNetwork allows marketers and app developers to gain insight into the following data points:

  • Publisher ID (source)
  • Campaign ID
  • Data from Opt-In users
  • A first-time or returning user indicator (install data)
  • A personalized conversion value

While these are valuable insights, SKAdNetwork will still be lacking in a few key areas of campaign performance tracking including:

  • Real-time data
  • Advanced attribution reports
  • User-level campaign and channel attribution data

Given industry experts estimate that only between 20-40% of the mobile ecosystem is fully integrated for SKAdNetwork, mobile marketers will need to quickly prepare with the release of iOS 14.5 looming in the air. 

Next Steps

As the anticipation of iOS 14.5 continues to reshape the mobile landscape, mobile marketers and app developers may be feeling uneasy or concerned. To ensure your app is properly positioned to take on Apple’s ATT and the SKAdNetwork, it will be important to confirm the necessary changes and updates required by all major MMPs.

Perform[cb] has been working with Apple and the major MMPs to ensure that this transition to iOS 14.5 is as seamless as possible. As the #1 CPA Network and leader in performance-based user acquisition, Perform[cb] is prepared to give our clients the tools they need to continue to drive success. Reach out to our team of experts now to learn more.

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