IDFA: Identifier for Advertisers in iOS10

What is the IDFA?

The identifier for advertisers (IFA or IDFA) is a temporary device identifier used by most Apple devices. It provides information to advertisers based on the user’s activity which advertisers and ad networks use to serve relevant ads on websites and mobile apps. It replaced the unique device identifier (UDID) which was used prior to iOS6. However, unlike UDID, IDFA does not identify the device or user. Rather, it groups different users by similar search or browsing activity for relevant and targeted advertising. IDFA is non-permanent and may be activated or deactivated by the user. Mobile users can reset their IDFA, similar to the way a desktop user can erase cookies on their browser. IDFAs are commonly used by ad networks, retargeting providers, and other media sources to serve targeted ads and re-engage users on specific devices.

Changes in iOS 10

With iOS 10 users now have the option to limit ad tracking (LAT). Limiting ad tracking now zeroes out the IDFA and will only return information that shows when a user taps on an ad or takes an action like installing and app or signing up for a service. Users that enable LAT now become ghosts, the numbers that previously identified them left blank. The update to LAT makes tracking behavior of iOS users significantly more complicated. It also affects ad networks like Google and Facebook, as well as marketers. According to some reports, roughly 20% of iPhone and iPad users in the U.S. have used LAT to explicitly opt out of targeted advertising. The problem this creates for ad networks and marketers is that they now face a large, distributed, and “unknown” segment of users. Many marketers run on margins so thin that the smallest change in CPA can be the difference between a successful campaign and a failure. With LAT enabled it becomes impossible to calculate metrics like CPC, CPA, and ROI, which savvy marketers are always using to optimize campaigns.

What Can You Do?

Right now, there’s not a lot that can be done to improve the situation. Many marketers have been forced to reexamine pre-IDFA marketing techniques and come up with new technology to optimize the quality of ads. The good new is that there is still a lot of data available that can be of value to your marketing strategy. In AVID you can also take the following steps to help optimize your marketing spend:

  • Create customized targeting profiles based on geography, internet service provider, device type, browser, and IP type. These identifiers are not tied to the IDFA and are publicly available.
  • Create rich media container ads that can serve multiple ads in a single impression. Get the most of every impression by targeting multiple segments in a single ad impression.
  • Use multiple sub IDs to capture custom information available through your DSP like app name, app URL, delivery channel, etc. You can use these sub IDs in AVID to create custom drill down reports to better identify your potential buyers and set up targeted campaigns based on these custom variables.

Mobile advertising will continue to play a huge roll in any successful digital display ad campaign. In 2015, mobile advertising saw $20.7 billion in revenue, a 66% increase from the previous year.


Contact us today to learn how AVID helps you stay ahead of changing trends in display advertising.