The Identifier for Advertisers, also known as IDFA, seems like an unlikely candidate for causing an apocalypse in mobile games, advertising, and the iPhone ecosystem. But the obscure tracking technology, which anonymously profiles a user, seems like Death riding in on a pale horse.
Starting in June, Apple caused a stir by saying it was effectively getting rid of the IDFA, making it harder for advertisers to target consumers with ads. Apple’s plan was to enhance privacy, but it caused a great stir among the likes of Facebook, mobile marketers, and their customers such as game developers. Apple did this without widespread consultation with the app and game industry.
By getting rid of the IDFA, Apple could make its platform more attractive to those who value privacy, consistent with the latest privacy-marketing ads for its iPhones and iPad. But the uproar from Apple’s partners forced Apple to delay its move from mid-September, with the release of iOS 14, to sometime in early 2021.
A lot of mobile game companies and marketing firms felt like it was a stay of execution. The stay came just as Brian Bowman, CEO of mobile user acquisition firm Consumer Acquisition, warned that the IDFA change could result in thousands of layoffs at the mobile-app advertising ecosystem, including game companies, mobile ad measurement firms, mobile marketing, user acquisition, and ad networks.
“You ever see the movie The Green Mile?” said Bowman. “We’re walking to death row. The phone rings. We walk back. That’s all this is. In five months, we do the walk again. I think the thing that was most shocking to me was how few people were willing to talk to the press about the topic. It was clear that there’s the fear of retribution in the industry, that your next title may