What consumers really think of the IDFA Prompt

Advertising research specialist, On Device Research, reveals key insights into consumer behaviour around the latest iOS 14.5 software release and response to the new IDFA tracking prompts. The research shows that consumer appetite for clicking ‘allow’ is potentially much higher than initially anticipated due to a perceived link with app usability outweighing concerns around privacy.

It’s now been 3 weeks since Apple’s latest software release (iOS 14.5) was first launched and it’s fair to say, it’s had a lot of press. Most notably because under this new update, apps are now forced to ask the user to either allow or deny their IDFA being shared through Apple’s new app tracking transparency framework.

As such, most of the digital advertising industry responded with concern around the potential targeting limitations this could result in. But the key question is, how much is this concern unfounded? At just over 3 weeks in, there are varying results from multiple sources around acceptance levels. According to a tracker by Blis, current opt in rates globally sit at 34.9%1 against Flurry’s current tracker suggesting 15%2. So, what is the industry to believe?

Here at On Device Research, we own one of the most popular survey apps in the UK and so wanted to speak to 1000 iOS users to gage their views on these updates and what it means to them. Not only did we want to get to the heart of if consumers are opting into tracking or not, but perhaps more importantly why they are making those decisions. We want to help provide a realistic update into the here and now on this matter and this is what we found out…

75% of our sample had already seen the IDFA prompt across one or more of their apps. Now considering iOS 14.5 adoption rates still fairly low (*6% according to a latest tracker by Blis3 and 12% according to Apps Flyer4), this suggests the prompt is starting to be shown in some apps before the software update takes place. When it comes to overall thoughts and feelings surrounding this message, the highest proportion of our sample stated feeling confused and concerned.


Feelings around the IDFA prompt message

Source: On Device Research – IDFA Survey May 2021 n=1000


However, when it comes to what consumers are actually doing, it’s fair to say another story emerges.

Let’s take our own app (Curious Cat App) as an example. So far, 47% clicked allow to the IDFA prompt. This can be said, is far from initial expectations and significantly more positive than first perceived. Our survey also enabled us to identify links starting to emerge between types of apps and levels of acceptance. Apps such as Linked In had a higher opt in rate against other apps such as Facebook. Therefore, there is clearly a correlation emerging between the more trustworthy the app, the higher the rate of opt in.

The higher rates seen in our study are also backed up by another recent survey by mobile attribution company Apps Flyer, suggesting opt in rates were 39% overall5 (this was back in April), with more indication that some of the larger apps also had higher opt in rates due to increased perceived trust levels.

But why is hitting allow happening more than we realise? To understand this in more detail, we have to examine the reasons behind our respondents’ actions.

When asked why respondents had allowed or ‘opted in’ to tracking, 38% felt that that to allow was integral to the app’s ability in some way. And a further 25% stated they weren’t sure about the message, so felt it safer to just click allow. It could be argued that this leads to an acceptance culture which exists amidst uncertainty. Let’s not also forget another 25% who stated they were quite happy to have personalised ads online and felt this better than other ads that simply were not relevant.


Why consumers clicked 'Allow' on the IDFA prompt

Source: On Device Research – IDFA Survey May 2021 n=1000


But of course, this is only one side of the story. What about those that deny the tracking? 62% said they simply don’t want to share their data and a further 30% stated they disliked personal advertising. Posing questions such as has ad personalisation gone too far in some instances and reached levels that consumers simply find uncomfortable?

Privacy of course matters. Apple even now classifies it as a fundamental human right. We continue to enter into an era of transparency and consumers rate their privacy highly. In fact, when asked how important this was to our respondents, 70% stated this as very important or important. But yet, clearly (in some cases), there is still a stronger than anticipated acceptance of data sharing.

What does this mean for digital advertising? Well, we are certainly not at the end of the IDFA journey as yet. Many will still have yet to make the upgrade to iOS 14.5 and so the true final response across the board has yet to be recorded. However, our survey indicates that likelihood to click (by type of app) is on average just below 1/3 for allowing opt in.


Likelihood to Opt in by app category

Source: On Device Research – IDFA Survey May 2021 n=1000


Time will certainly tell as to how the ability to target via IDFA ultimately pans out. However, there is no doubt consumers felt positively with the decision being put more firmly in their hands.

Thinking about these results more widely, it is clear there is a battle between privacy and functionality. Alistair Hill, CEO of On Device Research comments:

"Although privacy is a major concern to consumers and these prompts are provoking worry for many, if an app can clearly outline the value exchange, there are significant amounts of people who are happy to share their data"

Here at On Device Research, we continue to monitor the situation closely to truly understand its impact. However, whatever the outcome of this may be and indeed how it may change the course of in app targeting, we are likely to see more innovation as a result. As experts in digital advertising effectiveness, we are here to help brands navigate these changes and ensure success is still at the heart of your digital advertising.


1. https://blis.com/insights/ios-14-5-tracker/

2. https://www.flurry.com/blog/ios-14-5-opt-in-rate-att-restricted-app-tracking-transparency-worldwide-us-daily-latest-update/

3. https://blis.com/insights/ios-14-5-tracker/

4. https://www.appsflyer.com/ios-14-att-dashboard/

5. https://www.appsflyer.com/blog/att-opt-in-rates-higher/

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