As the apocalypse continues…
Now that the dust has begun to settle from the initial wave of disruption (though more is undoubtedly coming, as September gets closer), we’re starting to get a look at some second-order impact analysis:
Advertising Stocks Face New, Major Challenge With Apple’s iOS 14
If you’ve wanted a nice round-up article to explain to your friends and family (or anyone else not directly embedded in the mobile industry) why you’ve been working so much overtime recently, here it is.
A bit of history, a bit of context, and everything a reader needs to understand the situation all in one place.
Mobile Ad Tech Companies Try To Adapt To Likely Loss Of Apple's IDFA
For a more wonky perspective, here is AdExchanger’s recap of the mobile ad tech industry, from Allison Schiff.
Allison's coverage has been extremely savvy all along (that’s why we asked her to join us for a webinar about all this a couple of weeks ago). Here, she does a particularly good job here overviewing the various approaches currently on the table.
The Imminent Ragnarok of M&A in Mobile Gaming Space
This article is great for two reasons:
- Unless you work in the mobile gaming industry, you’ll almost certainly learn something about both its history and the strategy that makes it run.
- This is a real, in-the-trenches example of the industry-wide chaos that removing IDFAs will cause.
TL;DR: smaller gaming companies are likely no longer viable, and we’re probably entering an era of huge consolidation where mega-publishers acquire their way to higher MAU counts. The rich get richer…
Too Much Creative Marketing is Stifled by Attribution
A good read that basically boils down to ‘the best marketing is often the most difficult to measure well…if it’s even ROI-positive to try’. In this case, discussing how Google search is a natural point of intent consolidation, which tends to siphon away attribution credit from everything else.
There is something to the idea of not being obsessed with granular measurement, if it comes at the expense of trying new things. But, in mobile at least, it’s often possible to hit a middle ground. For example: a robust mobile linking implementation can help bridge these ‘black holes’ (of which the App Store is certainly one, but Google search is absolutely another) so that your users avoid needing to go through them in the first place.
An Instagram bug showed a ‘camera on’ indicator for iOS 14 devices even when users weren’t taking photos
iOS 14 added functionality to highlight usage of certain OS-level/hardware functionality, such as the camera or the clipboard. This has been catching a whole host of popular apps by surprise, and Instagram is simply the latest example.
Some of these issues are legitimate functionality that just might not make sense to a user when suddenly highlighted this way, and some are bugs to fix. And some are probably unscrupulous behavior that should be exposed.
Most importantly, it’s not enforced by fiat. Unlike the iOS 14 IDFA changes, which are coming with a hefty dose of paternalistic ‘Apple knows what is right for you…just trust us’, this is simply useful information.
Apple’s App Store and Other Digital Marketplaces [PDF]
Apple sponsored a study to compare commission rates charged by popular digital marketplaces (which includes the App Store, but also Uber, Airbnb, Etsy, Roku, Steam, and so on).
- Yes, sounds like 30% is the benchmark today for pretty much everyone.
- No, this isn’t going to do anything to address the underlying developer protest over why any app store is worth a 30% cut (even if they might have been in the past).
As evidence of the second point, yesterday saw some interesting whiplash on Hacker News: two of the day’s most popular comment threads were an [incorrect] report that Apple keeps their 30% cut even after a refund, and then the follow-up correction that no, they actually don’t do that anymore.
Their Businesses Went Virtual. Then Apple Wanted a Cut.
At the risk of going overboard this week on the topic of App Store commissions, here’s a perfect illustration of the system’s quirks: COVID has forced business models to adapt, and formerly-offline activities like gym classes are now online gym classes.
…which suddenly makes payments for them subject to Apple’s 30%.
Tips & Techniques
Apple App Clips - A Definitive Guide for Developers
In other iOS 14 news, App Clips has been drumming up quite a bit of excitement. This exploration by the AppsFlyer team is thorough and refreshingly detailed.
Excitement isn’t everything though — the Android Instant Apps project was basically the same thing, generated a ton of early hype, and is now generally regarded as a curiosity that never found its feet.
Google’s Top Search Result? Surprise! It’s Google
The data collection methodology here is exhaustive, and the real-life, interactive examples are exceptional. Perhaps best of all, the authors managed to a Google spokesperson on record at length, with tidbits such as:
Sometimes, the most helpful information will be a link to another website—other times, it will be a map, a restaurant listing, a video or an image.
From a certain perspective, Google isn’t wrong…but dictatorships often are more ‘efficient’ too. And the impact is stark:
The big loss is for consumers, because nobody thinks that Google Translate is the most accurate translator […] If we’re only getting 2 percent of the click-through, there’s no business to run here. We only exist because there are still some queries where they don’t put their stuff at the top.
PS, if you want to go way down the rabbit hole, check out their companion behind-the-scenes article — even more awesome graphs, and all the technical details behind assembling this dataset over a period of three months.
Wikimedia: Grant Ingersoll
Knowledge Equity and Navigating Career Through Identity
Grant Ingersoll, Chief Technology Officer of Wikimedia, joined us on the podcast this week to discuss his experience navigating his own career through identity and knowledge equity. He shares the path that led him to his current role and why he chose to take a bet on himself and start his own company.
More on Grant’s story, including his beliefs that people’s views of themselves can be blockers for their own personal growth, why he is constantly reinventing himself as a founder, and Wikimedia’s roadmap to make their knowledge base reflect the global community, are shared in this episode of How I Grew This. Listen now on Apple Podcasts Spotify, Google Podcast, Stitcher and more.
Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | SoundCloud | Stitcher
Mobile Growth Online
Panelists: Duolingo, Stash.
Where: virtual event.
When: Wed, Aug 12, 2:00 PM (PDT).
Mobile Growth SEA Online
Panelists: OVO, Tinder APAC, and Mudah.My.
Where: virtual event.
When: Thu, Aug 13, 3:00 PM (GMT+8).
Over the last few weeks, while speaking to companies across the mobile space about the ongoing Attribution Apocalypse, something has become clear to me: in this debate, there is more than one possible definition of the ‘good side’.
Somewhere within the spaceship at Apple Park, a team has been working toward these IDFA changes for a long time. I would bet they truly believe in the cause of defending user privacy, and see this decision as an unqualified ‘good thing’ for the world.
Perhaps they are right, and the mobile ecosystem was due for a spring cleaning. I would also bet they do not fully understand the fallout that this black-and-white definition of ‘good privacy’ is going to cause.
For now though, it doesn’t really make a difference. Whether or not Apple’s IDFA team comprehends the impact of this decision, they’ve just signaled that they believe something isn’t right…and they still hold all the keys. But that doesn’t mean they are the only voice with something valuable to say.
The mobile ecosystem is a big and wonderfully diverse place, and now it’s our opportunity (and our responsibility) to continue carrying the torch of healthy and sustainable mobile growth.Alex Bauer