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Another chapter has begun in the big-tech antitrust lawsuit against Apple. Late last week, it came out that Apple is making new moves to protect its App Store from legislation that would require iPhone and iPad users to install apps outside of the App Store. This would subsequently disrupt its revenue sources, customer base, and products. As reported by Reuters, Apple sent a new letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin, the panel’s ranking Republican Chuck Grassley, Antitrust Subcommittee Chair Amy Klobuchar, and the subcommittee’s ranking Republican Mike Lee in an attempt to plead its case.
This letter serves as a follow-up note – Apple sent its first letter to lawmakers in January – further describing how new legislation would make it difficult for the company to uphold its vision for consumer privacy, and subsequently would impact its App Tracking Transparency feature (the main topic that’s had the digital media industry up-in-arms for several months). This decision could fundamentally change the way marketers and advertisers move forward, despite the scramble they underwent since Apple initially shared its opt-in requirements.
The digital marketing industry needs to watch this space intently, as these antitrust decisions influence how many brands’ paid media strategies will progress. Essentially, it could further evolve targeting and inventory options. It’s quite telling in regards to just how much influence companies like Apple possess in the marketing industry, as well as at the federal government level.
Here are some key considerations the marketing industry needs to acknowledge as the antitrust lawsuits progress.
Volatility will continue
Brands and advertisers continuously experience repercussions based on how the top tech platforms evolve. For example, eMarketer found that ad-spend on iOS devices declined as more users installed iOS 14.5 and above, which features Apple’s anti-tracking updates. In fact, Apple’s share of ad spend went from 43.84% in February of 2021 to just 29.71% in June. The company’s App Tracking Transparency feature single-handedly accounted for mass campaign shifts and caused an uproar among marketers as they were forced to change the strategies and tactics they depend on every day. Tangentially to this, Google recently announced it’s allowing consumers to minimize the data shared with third parties and stop marketers from using cross-app identifiers.
Obviously, marketers want access to accurate targeting and measurement capabilities. However, as the focus on consumer privacy continues to grow, new platform fluctuations leave marketers to pick up the pieces and constantly ‘make do.’ We’ve heard cries across the industry for the notion of stability, but how are we going to get there?
Mid-funnel marketing could be promising
Lots of innovation has occurred across the industry over the last year and a half. We’ve seen a renaissance in the power of creative and messaging, helping support stronger contextual-based consumer engagements. With these successes in mind, marketers and advertisers must diversify their approaches and double-down on mid-funnel marketing approaches. Today, most marketing efforts are either top-of- or bottom-of-funnel efforts to raise brand awareness or conversions, respectively. Going forward, there will be a new focus on combining brand awareness and call to actions, as well as driving conversions. A solid example of this is the rising trend of incorporating QR codes in TV ads, or rich media videos with a ‘tap to find a retailer’ function.
With Apple’s new letter teeing-up developments around how marketers can or can’t engage users, the digital marketing industry is again holding its breath. It’s clear a diversified approach and nuanced path forward is needed to find stability and ensure campaign goals can be met, despite new regulations around how the largest tech platforms conduct business.
Advertisers will branch out to new platforms
In reality, we all know the likes of Apple, Facebook, Google, and Amazon have immense influence on how the industry advances. Interestingly, a report from eMarketer found that Google, Facebook, and Amazon account for 64% of all digital ad spend. This goes to show how herded together most brands and advertisers are when it comes to executing digital campaigns – and that’s a problem.
From where I sit, the advertising products from Google, Facebook, and Amazon will become less valuable to marketers as these antitrust issues gain more attention. The constant disruptions will encourage marketers to expand beyond the walled gardens and test new tools and platforms to better engage audiences.
With the largest players in the digital advertising ecosystem offering less value and more headaches, there will be a significant reduction in platforms created for the sole purpose of monetizing audiences. This reality paves the way for platforms focused on delivering quality, curated inventory that supports successful probabilistic targeting. Marketers that diversify their ad spend and branch out from the ‘traditional’ set of vendors will be better positioned for long-term success.
Ken Harlan is Founder and CEO of MobileFuse.