The planned, prepared, and dreaded iOS14.5 update started to roll out on April 26th. While we experienced some hiccups in campaign setups with verifying pixels and events, the day passed smoothly, as did the week, and now it's been close to a month. So what exactly happened - or didn't happen?
Let's take a closer look:
First and foremost, ad performance didn't go down. The campaigns of our hundreds of customers keep running smoothly and are delivering results as expected. We haven't seen the cost per acquisition, install, or purchase skyrocket. CPM rates are also holding steady. In fact, we have seen a two-digit decrease in the overall CPM levels in the past month - opening up an opportunity for advertisers to increase their reach. Equally, cost per click is slightly trending down, about half of the decrease we see in CPMs.
These developments are due to two main reasons: firstly, the iOS14.5 adoption rates are still low (the widely referred Flurry data reports only a 13% global adoption rate on week three of the rollout). Yet, many advertisers are in a wait-and-see mode, which brings us to the second reason for the decreasing cost of advertising: there isn't as much competition in this time of uncertainty.
External Factors Also Have an Impact
However, the overall trends can be deceiving. As some advertisers are dramatically changing their approach to their iOS campaigns or acquisition strategies while trying to understand the impacts in the changed measurement environment, we see some sudden moves and then reversals as we learn more.
Those who keep running iOS14 campaigns are learning a lot as adoption rates change, and we can see some early winners there. The performance between different social platforms seems to vary a lot right now, and savvy advertisers are shifting their budgets accordingly. Others have chosen to hold all iOS spend due to a lack of visibility into campaign incrementality. And many are staying on course, not changing a thing, because they are yet to see a need for adjustments.
Factors outside the iOS update also contribute to the mix. We have seen travel advertisers come back with force over the past two months, and that increased competition of a specific audience is skewing the game.
Audiences Are Still There
Monitoring audience sizes has been a big focus for us at Smartly.io in the past three weeks. We have been following the development of retargeting audience sizes closely. So far, we have seen no movement whatsoever.
In addition to consumers' low adoption rate of the new iOS, another contributing factor is that apps have been slow to implement the ATT prompt. Two weeks into the rollout and only 15% of developers had implemented the prompt, according to AppsFlyer data.
While the change has been slow, it is still happening. Advertisers' main focus area continues to be examining first-party data while evaluating walled gardens, and their performance seems to be taking much longer than anticipated.
Meanwhile, the only way to keep gathering insights on performance, measurement, and optimization, is to keep calm and continue advertising.