The Apple Audience Blindspot in Advertising

By Robert Webster. VP Strategy at CvE

Reaching your target audience is one of the most essential principles of marketing, yet, in 2023, it’s being neglected by the majority of marketers. This negligence is further concealed by the state the industry is in. According to comscore, US median income for iPhone users is $85,000, 40% higher than that of Android users. With Safari having 93% market share on IOS, one would anticipate that advertisers targeting affluent consumers would prioritize buying well on Apple devices and browsers.

The truth is far from that. DSPs struggle to activate and measure on Safari and in-app on IOS due to Apple’s tracking restrictions. Moreover, algorithmic media buying optimizes to where the trackable sales are, resulting in most users skewing their advertising away from this wealthy target audience. This is absurd and means that ad-technology and tracking used like this is in many cases, making marketing campaigns worse than if no targeting or tracking technology were used at all.

Industry Avoiding Discussion on Target Audience Affluent Consumers on Apple Devices

You would expect that tackling this issue should be the top priority for the ad agencies and tech vendors that advise advertisers. However, it appears that this is far from reality. Adtech vendors go out of their way to avoid discussing target audience blindspot, and if they do, they are careful to downplay the actual beneficial outcome that can be achieved in comparison to what is being lost. Google, which is a major player in adtech, has not addressed this issue, and this can also be said for the numerous agencies, both large and small, that are affiliated with them. Google, at least, can take comfort in the fact that its search business, due to a major deal with Apple, is still functioning relatively well – though there are still a lot of issues with Display, Video (Youtube) and other aspects.

Advertisers Missing Out on Target Audience Due to Lack of Browser and OS Reports

The lack of discussion around browser and OS reports has caused many advertisers to miss out on their best target audience. To ensure they are getting the most out of their marketing efforts, advertisers should regularly run their performance reports based on browser and OS and compare that data to their ideal and website traffic. In 2023, pulling in these reports can be surprisingly difficult within many DSPs. Unfortunately, this best practice is only done by a small percentage of marketers.

The Lack Of Discussion About Browser and OS

Apple’s ATT Efforts Show Real-World Impact on Big Tech Earnings and Share Price

For a real-world impact that’s plain to see look at the impact, Apple’s ATT efforts have had a profound earnings and share price of big tech platforms. This was due to a combination of the pandemic, decreased ad earnings on Apple devices, and an economic downturn. Ultimately, Google’s decision to delay its own cookie apocalypse was unavoidable, as it would have caused their already declining earnings to decrease even further.

Focus on Solutions for ID-Restricted Environments Rather than Complaining About Being Unfair

Some in the advertising community are criticizing Apple for their behavior around ATT. Yet, I feel this is self-defeating since Apple is highly unlikely to change their tack, and this is not the way to win trust with the public, who already mistrust advertising’s use of data. There are valid concerns that Apple may block everyone apart from themselves in using this data, as is rumoured with their new advertising product. However, such criticism is like closing the door after the horse has bolted; Apple will not reverse their stance on privacy. While they should be discouraged from bending the rules for personal gain, the advertising industry should focus on solutions to ID-restricted environments rather than complaining about it being unfair.

The Advertising Industry Should Focus on ID Restricted Solutions

So, what needs to be done to address the problem? First, everyone involved in marketing- from the display buyer to the CMO (and the CFO who often oversees budget sign-off) needs to be aware that this is an issue and that their current efforts are not providing satisfactory results. Then, all advertisers should create a plan for advertising on identity-restricted blindspots. This could be something as simple as over indexing brand (unmeasured) spend to blindspot audiences, setting aside budgets for identity-free targeting and trusting that it can’t be measured, or more advanced options that involve modelling sales and leveraging logged-in target audiences and clean room technology to provide more signal.

Develop a Plan for Targeting ID-Restricted Blindspot Target Audiences

All advertisers should develop a plan for advertising on ID restricted blindspots, but particularly those who have a strong audience connection. This plan could include over-indexing brand (unmeasured) spend to target blindspot audiences, setting aside budgets for ID-free targeting, trusting that it can’t be measured, and using more advanced options such as sales modelling and leveraging logged in target audiences and clean room technology to obtain more signal.

I see development of these strategies as one of the big trends of 2023 and one that will separate the very best marketing setups from the rest. Such is the importance of this target audience that getting this right could be the difference between a business achieving healthy growth or losing market share (or worse). Being able to develop a strong plan relies on a combination of skills from marketing principles through to detailed understanding of the marketing landscape, technology skills (particularly with new options like clean rooms) , a test and learn approach and a bias towards progress over perfection.

Into this new discipline for marketing we can expect Apple to launch its new ad product sometime over the next couple of years (currently those in the know are pointing to 2024). This product has huge potential and can see Apple join Google, Meta and Amazon at the top of the advertising pile. Yet its not all about the giants, these trends also create huge opportunities for the independent sector.

Apple to Launch New Ad Product - CvE

At the start of the article we highlighted a huge blindspot at the heart of marketing. Yet this challenge is also an enormous opportunity for those with the courage and skill to tackle it head on.

I hope you enjoyed this article. Contact us to discuss how CvE can help you develop your Apple strategy and setup, including an thorough analysis of identity solutions and the part that can be played by AI, Clean Rooms and CDPs.

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