App Industry Commentary
Posted by: Craig PalliMarch 25, 2013
Last week, Apple announced that starting May 1, the App Store will no longer accept new apps or app updates that access UDIDs and that advertisers should use the Advertising Identifier instead. The announcement is concise and straightforward:
This is the final chapter in an ongoing transition away from UDIDs, and app marketers who have been following best-practice guidelines should be able to navigate the change without too much disruption.
The announcement by Apple wasn’t a complete surprise: during the iOS 5 Beta 6 in August 2011, they indicated that usage of the unique device identifier (UDID) for ad tracking wasn’t going to be around forever. Its replacement is the newer Advertising Identifier, which was introduced in iOS 6 and is often referred to as the Identifier for Advertisers or IDFA. Unlike UDIDs, it was designed for advertising use from the start. It gives users greater ability to control what publishers and advertisers know about their app use, and avoids many of the privacy concerns that hampered the UDID.
For some app developers and ad networks, the shift may create some short-term headaches as they scramble to hit the May 1st deadline. However, for most of the industry the announcement provides welcome clarity on App Store policy, eliminating confusion about which Apple ID to use for tracking advertising results.
In my view, this policy shift by Apple will pave the way for the industry to coalesce around the Advertising Identifier as the industry tracking standard for iOS. Given the strategic nature of the Apple App Store - 20 billion downloads in 2012 alone and over 800,000 apps - the shift to the Advertising Identifier is likely to occur rapidly.
Advertisers may also face inventory volume challenges as the transition takes place: until ad networks, publishers, and advertisers have all implemented support for the new system, some traffic won’t be accessible through the Advertising Identifier. It’s worth noting that digital fingerprinting provides a useful way to bridge this gap, if needed.
Get your updates in
Our recommendation for any developers using the UDID is to concentrate on getting a minimally viable update prepared and submitted for approval as soon as you can - one that includes as many tracking technologies as possible. You do not need to remove UDID support immediately -- Apple doesn’t say they’ll be removing apps that use it from the store, just that they won’t be approving any more.
At the bare minimum, your next app update should include both UDID and the Advertising Identifier, backed by a plan to incorporate additional technologies as soon as you can. In a perfect world you should incorporate all the major tracking options now, as well as make any needed updates to support the other part of Apple’s announcement: the requirement that all apps support the Retina display and the 4-inch display on the iPhone 5.
Getting this update in before the 5/1 deadline (preferably at least 2-3 weeks before) will buy you the time to make more comprehensive changes without a looming deadline, as well as maintaining your access to as many advertising opportunities as possible.
Fiksu offers the first and only platform in the industry that supports the Advertising Identifier, UDID, digital fingerprinting, HTML5 cookies, the Facebook Identifier, and MAC address tracking, along with the ability to turn any of those methods off remotely - without re-submitting to the App Store. This means that not only do we provide the traffic volume our clients demand and extremely accurate, in-depth tracking and reporting - we also let our clients stay on top of industry changes like this one.
Finally, Fiksu’s Glenn Kiladis, VP and GM of FreeMyApps, will be speaking on the state of ad tracking at GDC later this week. If you’re at the show, be sure to check out How Mobile Ad Tracking Impacts App Marketing Results at 12:30 on Wednesday, in room 302, South Hall.
Posted by: Viki ZabalaMarch 8, 2013
During yesterday’s highly anticipated news conference, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg announced the company’s plans to give its news feed a facelift – transforming it into a “personalized newspaper,” in which users can browse streams of current photos, events, music-related content and posts from brands and public figures – in the same way they would read the sports or life section of a paper. You can check out this Wall Street Journal story by Evelyn Rusli for more details and a video of Zuckerberg’s unveil.
“There really is a place in the world for a personalized newspaper," he said during the press conference. “How we're all sharing is changing.”
We couldn’t agree more. Facebook's news feed enhancements are profoundly interesting on many levels and signal the social network's mobile maturation on several fronts. First, the additions of photo and music feeds are the most natural extension of the news feeds. As Fiksu’s Micah Adler points out in this USA Today article by Jon Swartz, the improved feeds reflect elements of some of the most popular apps already in the App Store, including Path and Spotify, which allow people to share photos and music-based experiences with friends. In this regard, Facebook is unifying the best of mobile and social in a singular experience.
AdAge’s Cotton Delo shares some of her perspectives on five immediate take-aways for advertisers in her piece Facebook News Feed Redesign Gives Marketers What They've Pined For: Bigger Ads. And yesterday’s announcement certainly spells many exciting changes for mobile-oriented brand advertisers as well. Over the past several weeks, Facebook has been making significant enhancements to its suite of mobile advertising products including Mobile App Install Ads and Power Editor. Those advancements have significantly improved mobile ad measurement and targeting through Facebook. But nothing matters more than context and, over the past few years, we've seen the increasing importance of native advertising to agencies and brands. Immersing consumers without interruption allows marketers to build a connection and customer loyalty. While "likes" are a simple measurement of positive sentiment, additional interactions through contextual targeting will inevitably increase buyer interest.
Facebook’s enhanced feeds create rich contextual advertising opportunities and serve as a perfect complement to Facebook's unprecedented targeting and measurement capabilities. As a prominent buyer of mobile media, Fiksu is incredibly optimistic about the opportunities afforded by changes to Facebook feeds and we plan to invest significantly in related ad units on behalf of our brand clients, providing them with an extremely efficient and targeted use of their media budgets.
Potential change in Apple policies on HTML5 cookies highlights the need to support multiple tracking technologiesPosted by: Craig PalliFebruary 25, 2013
Interesting news being reported by TechCrunch today: according to an article by Sarah Perez, Apple is now rejecting apps that are using HTML5 cookie tracking from the App Store. While this may come as a surprise to some, the good news is that over time, the marketplace has developed multiple solutions to mobile ad tracking on iOS.
The confusing ecosystem for marketing attribution in iOS has long been a challenge for app marketers. Back in August of 2011, when Apple first announced that they were deprecating UDIDs, there was considerable concern among marketers. How would they track their marketing results? In the short term, multiple options emerged and gained prominence, including MAC address, digital fingerprinting, HTML5 cookies, Facebook's newly introduced tracking method, and more. In addition, UDIDs remained the dominant tracking choice for many marketers, although the transition to Apple's preferred Advertising Identifier is now well underway.
There are many trade-offs among these options, including accuracy, privacy concerns, user experience, and acceptance by consumers, ad networks, developers, and Apple. At Fiksu, our long-term recommendation has been that the best approach is to support multiple types of marketing attribution – and that is in fact what our SDK provides. There are three essential reasons for this:
- Future-proofing. Flexibility to use multiple types of tracking lets you adapt to changing market conditions, whether they come as new guidelines from Apple, changing consumer preferences, or new sources or advertising inventory, essentially future-proofing your app marketing strategy. In fact, the Fiksu SDK can simply and remotely disable most tracking methods that our clients choose to move away from.
- Broadest reach. Different mobile traffic sources use different tracking technologies, and there's no way to know which sources will perform best for your app marketing needs until you try them. Accessing all the best sources requires supporting multiple tracking systems. And Fiksu's Platform provides the ability to track and report and all of our clients' campaigns, including those they run independently, such as email, QR codes, social, and more.
- Optimal performance. By supporting the maximum number of traffic sources, marketers are assured of always being able to work with the sources that drive he most effective cost per loyal user.
The picture isn't settled
It is important to note that there is no evidence – yet – that this is a unilateral action by Apple. Fiksu is aware of a couple of instances of very popular apps that have been rejected by Apple because of HTML5 cookie tracking. On the other hand, we're aware of at least 10 apps that use HTML5 tracking being approved by Apple in the last month, including a couple in the last few days, so it doesn't seem to be a comprehensive rejection – or if it is, it's very new.
So the situation remains unclear. While there have been some rejections, HTML 5 tracking remains a viable and well-functioning form of marketing attribution for many app developers – one that closely mimics the long-established desktop standard for 1st party cookies. The key for app marketers is to support HTML5 tracking along with all other forms of attribution in case there are additional changes in the ecosystem.
While there's been no official comment from Apple about this situation, there are a couple of reasons Apple might chose to eliminate HTML5 cookie tracking.
1.The user experience of the "flip" – a brief switch to Safari to load the cookie, then back to the app – might not fit with Apple's vision of the iOS experience.
2.Having introduced the Advertising Identifier last fall, Apple could be eager to speed its adoption.
For more on the relative strengths and weakness of the various tracking technologies, read our ebook How Mobile Ad Tracking Impacts App Marketing Results. Fiksu is also offering a webinar on March 7 titled, "App Marketer's Tracking Dilemma: How your ad tracking choices will impact ROI." Learn more or register.Tags:
Boston’s Inaugural Women in Wireless Roundtable Draws Crowd, Explores Privacy and the Mobile LandscapePosted by: Viki ZabalaMay 7, 2012
The Cambridge Innovation Center saw a packed house last week for a lively panel discussion – Mobile Advertising Today and a Vision for the Future: Lessons Learned in Attribution, Measurement and Privacy – hosted by Women in Wireless and Girls in Tech.
Smartphone users are sharing more and more information via mobile apps than ever before. From music preferences to geolocation and photo sharing, the question of privacy and what is being done with personal information is top-of-mind for everyone across the mobile industry.
Fiksu’s Jo Wightman participated in the discussion on challenges of privacy in the mobile industry alongside Ash Nadkarni, co-founder, App Guppy; Adam Towvim, vice president, business development, Jumptap; and Johnny Won, mobile and gaming platforms manager, Hill Holliday. The panel was moderated by Vicky Wu Davis, CEO and founder of FrogHop Inc.
The group explored a series of thought-provoking questions around Apple’s recent deprecation of UDIDs and current alternatives being proposed in the market. Roundtable members also observed how many in the industry are reacting to this major change and wondering how tracking can exist in the realm of privacy protection.
The event kicked off with a networking session, providing an opportunity for industry peers to meet, mingle and discuss innovative ways to tackle some of the most pressing issues impacting mobile brands and businesses today.
The event, sponsored by Fiksu, marked the debut of the soon-to-launch Boston chapter of Women in Wireless, an organization that promotes and develops female leaders in mobile and digital media. Girls in Tech is a global non-profit organization and social network enterprise focused on the engagement, education and empowerment of like-minded, professional, intelligent and influential women in technology.
Posted by: Craig PalliApril 17, 2012
It’s no secret that the UDID has been a topic of controversy in recent weeks. Recent reports that Apple is rejecting some apps that utilize the UDID have generated significant levels of confusion and debate. Exacerbating matters are conflicting reports and escalating rumors of what apps Apple is or is not approving leaving app developers and marketers struggling to answer the question of how best to grow their business in the face of UDID deprecation.
Our goal in this post is to fill you in on what the current situation is – what is known fact, what is rumor, and finally, to answer the question: “what’s an app marketer to do?” as our industry progresses beyond the UDID.
Apple announced its plans to deprecate (retire) the UDID last August. Based on past Apple history, many in the industry interpreted this as an early warning, so UDID alternatives have not progressed much until recently. It now appears that Apple is increasingly utilizing the app approval process to influence UDID usage and how such usage is communicated to consumers.
The difficulty for developers is knowing what is and is not acceptable to Apple relative to UDIDs.
Kim-Mai Cutler of TechCrunch, who originally broke the news, about apps being rejected clarified what is acceptable in a subsequent posting. She cited the current confusion in the market, and provided an example of an actual rejection, in which Apple cites the use of UDIDs without disclosure as the cause for the rejection. She further notes that some apps are still getting through the approval process, even if they access UDIDs. “The distinction is that they need to disclose this fact to users and ask for permission.”
Getting Apps Approved - Strategies for Success
Flurry has also done a similar client audit, and VP of marketing, Peter Farago, was quoted as saying, “There is literally not one developer’s app that we could find that had a rejection due to UDID alone.”
So What Does This Mean for Mobile App Marketers?
It’s increasingly clear that the UDID is on its way out. What’s not yet clear is the exact timeline for elimination, which technologies are going to replace it and which will receive widest adoption. As such, savvy marketers need to manage multiple technologies during this difficult transitional stage.
Here is a review of the major technologies currently being proposed in the market:
- HTML5 1st Party Cookie Tracking: This technique tracks ad performance by setting the Safari equivalent of a first party cookie. This results in accurate ad attribution with no room for ambiguity. Cookies are not device identifiers and cannot be shared with other apps. This method has the advantage of being the mobile equivalent of a commonly used and widely accepted web tracking solution, and does a good job of balancing the need for ad performance attribution with user privacy. Because it provides a direct link between clicks, installs and post-install events, it is well-suited for identifying ad sources that attract loyal users. Its major drawback is a redirect to a Safari page on the first launch of the app, which shows up as a short animated flash. It should also be noted that such an experience may be branded and integrated into the user experience. Cookie tracking is an effective solution for those focused on getting the best quality attribution for measuring ROI on media spend.
- Digital Fingerprinting: This technology matches attributes such as a user’s IP address, OS level and other data to “fingerprint” the user and statistically estimate conversions. For example, if a particular IP address clicks on an ad for an app, and then the same IP address creates an install of that app 60 seconds later, chances are good the user who clicked and the user who installed the app are one and the same. Where this gets tricky is that the data points used are not unique and can change, so there can be errors. Though this method works well for tracking simple conversions, it is not sufficiently reliable for tracking post-install events, which are critical to identifying ad sources that generate high quality, loyal users.
- MAC Address Tracking: A number of ad networks have viewed substituting the UDID with another unique identifier tied to the hardware device, the MAC Address. Some variants encrypt the address or use it as a key. The major benefit of this method is that it requires minimal change to existing infrastructure – MAC Addresses are handled in a similar manner to UDIDs. Many in the market believe that MAC Addresses carry similar privacy issues as the UDID and thus are not viewed as a long-term solution.
- OpenUDID and SecureUDID: These are technologies that offer open source implementations, a unique id, and the promise of an explicit opt-out for users. These implementations utilize the device copy/paste buffer as the location for storing this ID. Since the copy/paste buffer wasn’t intended for long-term storage, there is concern that this method may ultimately be frowned upon by Apple, but there appears to be support amongst some of the ad networks for these methods.
What’s the Right Choice?
Each of the methods above has advantages and drawbacks. Some vendors have lined up behind particular technologies and are pushing them hard as the best choice. Ideally, a single solution supported by Apple would be the best solution.
Very recently rumors have been circulating that Apple will not fully deprecate UDIDs until the launch of iOS 6, and at that time advocate a first party cookie option. But this is unconfirmed. Even if accurate, developers still need alternate solutions between now and then.
Ultimately it is the availability of traffic on the ad networks, and the corresponding technologies chosen by the networks that may drive decisions for developers.
How Are Ad Networks Voting?
Most app developers we speak to hope for one solution that will be widely adopted by the ad networks.
Fiksu works with more than 35 networks covering 90 percent of available impressions and has been actively surveying the market.
Right now, the ad networks are extremely fragmented on the best way forward. Some are taking a “wait and see” approach. Some have already invested time and effort in support of the MAC option. A number have implemented or have committed to providing changes needed for cookie tracking, and there has also been some support expressed for OpenUDID. Finally, a few are even supporting multiple technologies.
Given this state of fragmentation, we expect to see continued evolution and change across the iOS ecosystem in the coming months. As a result, finding the right mix of tracking and attribution – while ensuring sufficient market reach – has become much more difficult for marketers.
So What’s an App Marketer to Do?
First, app marketers should contact the networks or vendors they partner with, and understand what SDK changes they need to implement in order to move beyond the UDID.
For the short term, developers who want to maximize available traffic should continue to support the UDID. Despite the numerous technology and tracking announcements, the reality is that most traffic available on the market today utilizes UDID tracking – it is going to take the ad networks and the publisher sites time to settle on new solutions and to implement them.
Developers should at the same time be reviewing their ad partnerships and determine the impact to their code.
Ultimately this will be a difficult transitional stage, but one which will leave the industry with stronger user protections.
Fiksu’s Plans – Provide Full Coverage
To ensure we stay ahead of these market changes and to provide our clients with the widest range of traffic, Fiksu is rolling out a multi-prong solution, one that balances consumer privacy with the market need to attribute ad spend to identify the most profitable sources of downloads.
Rather than limit capabilities or reach by mandating use of one particular technology, we will provide a range of solutions including:
- HTML5 First Party Cookies;
- Digital Fingerprinting;
- MAC Address attribution;
- OpenUDID and SecureUDID initiatives.
Clients will have access to all of these methods, eliminating difficult decisions and tradeoffs. This will enable us to maximize reach, support the widest variety of ad networks and meet our clients’ specific needs. Stay tuned for more soon as our industry moves beyond the UDID.
Mobile marketers take note: New data reveals on average, Android app users are 2x more loyal than iOS app usersPosted by: Craig PalliOctober 12, 2011
After months of speculation and finally, the much-covered iPhone 4S launch, it seems like iPhone fever is everywhere. If you own one (or plan to), or make or market mobile apps, it's certainly hard not to get caught up in it all. Urban legend has it that iOS users are naturally loyal and engaged app consumers. So mobile app marketers often assume that they should throw their advertising dollars behind promoting the visibility and ranking of their iOS app.
Well, we have news for you!
It turns out that on average, Android users are two times more likely than iOS users to open an app ten times or more.
We discovered this by extensively analyzing more than four billion app actions (recorded through our platform) and applying our metric defining a loyal user based on the number of times he or she opens an app.
Even though Android has surpassed iOS in U.S. market share, iOS still dominates among the premium brands that it serves – and so has earned its cache. But what this actually means is that there is plenty of inventory available on the Android platform, where global traffic can cost less than iOS traffic, based on standard supply and demand principles.
Think about it. A global Android campaign is untapped inventory awaiting for you to see the returns on your app marketing investment.
Although the upfront cost of an Android campaign might be similar to an iOS campaign, over time, global Android traffic costs become significantly less expensive. So not only can an Android app global marketing campaign deliver more loyal users, but the acquisition cost will also be significantly lower – indicating a better investment overall. It's also worth noting that the average cost to acquire loyal users on iOS has steadily increased in the last six months, according to the Fiksu Indexes, topping out in August at $1.54.
In recent weeks, much has been written about the surging Android market. Nielsen recently revealed that twice as many consumers purchased Android phones over iPhones in the past three months. Research from analyst firm Ovum predicted that Android app downloads will overtake iPhone apps for the first time this year. And new data from the NPD Group reported that the majority (52 percent) of the smartphones shipped in the U.S. during the second quarter of 2011 was running Android. Further validating this growth is a report by ad network Millennial Media, which revealed that in July 2011, Android captured 61 percent of the smartphone space – a hefty jump over the previous month.
As Fast Company put it, Android is having it's "Cinderella Moment."
Clearly, mobile app marketers need to take a closer look at the opportunity that an Android app presents. There’s evidently a lot of headroom and opportunity to cost-effectively acquire volumes of loyal app users on Android. Bottom line: If you haven’t considered running campaigns on Android, now is a good time to start thinking about it.
Posted by: Viki ZabalaOctober 7, 2011
As news of Steve Jobs’ death stopped the nation – and the world – in its tracks this Wednesday, the outpouring of poignant reflections, tributes and farewells was immediate. We dedicate this week’s Fiksu Feed to one of the greatest technology innovators of our time by sharing just a few of the hundreds of thousands of stories and comments that honor his life and legacy. Fiksu owes Steve Jobs a great deal; his vision spawned a vast ecosystem that created jobs, opportunity and creativity. For this and so much more, we are grateful.
“That Steve Jobs was a genius, a giant influence on multiple industries and billions of lives, has been written many times since he retired as Apple's chief executive in August. He was a historical figure on the scale of a Thomas Edison or Henry Ford, and set the mold for many other corporate leaders in many other industries,” writes Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg in The Steve Jobs I Knew.
While You Were Out: Apple’s Years With and Without Steve is a story told through audio commentary and pictures of Jobs’ time at Apple by Sam Grobart of the New York Times.
NYU Professor Joe Peyronnin penned a moving piece for the Huffington Post, titled Steve Jobs: The iRevolution. He writes, “Jobs inspired a whole generation of young entrepreneurs to take chances, to innovate and to pursue their dreams with relentless determination.” Peyronnin goes on to describe Jobs’ uncanny ability to create and market products so beautifully designed and powerfully functional that consumers had to own them.
In his tribute piece, Steve Jobs: The Beginning, 1955 – 1985, Bloomberg BusinessWeek’s Jim Aley paints an endearing picture of Jobs’ early days as a “high school loner who figured out what the world wanted from technology,”
As news of Jobs’ untimely death spread like wildfire, people around the globe began sharing his most memorable quotes. ABC News has 20 of the best, including some of our favorites:
- "Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes ... the ones who see things differently -- they're not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. ... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change things. ... They push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do."
- "It's really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them."
- "Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it."
Jobs’ death became an instant trending topic across social media channels. AdWeek reports that Twitter received a record-breaking 10,000 tweets per second as a result of the news. In fact, the social networking site briefly crashed under the heavy volume, said CNNMoney. Fast Company’s Adam Penenberg shared a moving collection of tweets honoring and remembering him in this Mega, Meta Mashup in Tweets. Here are some of our favorites:
- “For those of us lucky enough to get to work with him, it’s been an insanely great honor” (@billgates)
- “Thank you for saving us from mediocrity” (@om)
- “Some of the fire in the universe dimmed tonight. Steve Jobs, thank you for reminding us all what ambition+imagination can do” (@DianeSawyer)
- “President Obama: Bold enough to believe he could change the world & talented enough to do it” (@whitehouse)
- “Turn your iPhone off for an hour, honor Steve Jobs. When you turn it back on, remember how different your life is because of his work” (@thatdrew)
Thank you for inspiring us, Steve. You will be missed.Tags: Steve Jobs
Posted by: Micah AdlerAugust 26, 2011
Recent news on TechCrunch and TUAW about Apple’s iOS 5 beta release 6 on Friday sent out a ripple across the app development world. Apple stated that, over time, it is going to be phasing out – “deprecating” – UDIDs, the unique identifiers that have long been used by developers as a consistent identifier of a mobile iOS device.
It is important to note - deprecation does not mean elimination! It simply is a warning to developers that at some point in the future, this functionality might no longer exist. Specifically, UDIDs will be deprecated, but still available, in the release of iOS 5.0, which is expected some time this fall.
Furthermore, Apple is clearly trying to communicate its intentions on this topic well in advance to the app development community, and is giving developers ample time to phase in alternative solutions. Thus, we do not expect Apple to make immediate changes to developer's access to UDIDs within the next several months.
UDID based tracking helps developers understand app usage. And just as important, UDIDs enable developers to attribute an app download to the source of that download. With this stated, Fiksu plans on keeping our community abreast as more developments on these changes unfold.