The Rising Value of First-Party Data in Mobile App Marketing

By Elizabeth Emery and Kaitlyn Shimazaki | May 24, 2021

Elizabeth Emery is Senior Director of Mobile + Ad Tech Solutions at Tinuiti. Elizabeth is responsible for driving innovation & performance in partnership with all Tinuiti divisions including Client Strategy, ASO, Search, Social, Display, CRM & Analytics. She focuses on staying at the forefront of the industry & enabling insights to transform Tinuiti’s Mobile approach.

Kaitlyn Shimazaki is Associate Director of Mobile at Tinuiti and has been in the industry for eight years. In addition to supporting Elizabeth in all things mobile at Tinuiti, she also has extensive experience in leading strategy and execution across large mobile app clients.

The focus of iOS 14 is on privacy. During iOS 14’s announcement, Apple put emphasis on strengthening both security and privacy features, from ITP updates across iOS browsers to changes to IDFA on iOS. For mobile app marketers, Apple’s updates make first-party data a valuable asset more than ever. We cover how iOS 14 affects mobile app marketing and how advertisers can use first-party data to stay ahead of Apple’s new changes. 

How iOS 14 will affect mobile app marketing

With the release of iOS 14, Apple is introducing AppTrackingTransparency (ATT). ATT will prevent mobile apps from tracking users without explicit user consent. Mobile apps must request and receive permission from users through a pop-up opt-in form to access their device’s IDFA.

IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers) is a unique identifier used to target and measure the effectiveness of advertising on a user level across mobile devices without revealing Personally Identifiable Information (PII).

Before the latest iOS update, users’ IDFAs were available by default, making it easy for advertisers and app developers to target and retarget consumers, deliver customized advertising, measure mobile campaign performance, and more. 

Apple’s new changes to privacy management will undoubtedly impact how advertisers use mobile for targeting, insights, and attribution. While it is still early days in the rollout of ATT, Brian Wilson, Director of Product at Kochava, predicts 41% of users will opt-in for IDFA access.

App marketers must prepare for a world without IDFA — and leveraging first-party data will play a critical role. 

Why is first-party data so valuable for mobile app marketers?

First-party data refers to information marketers collect directly from their audience or customers. This data often comes from customers converting on an eCommerce site or within a mobile app. Brands typically collect some or all of the following information about customers:

  • Email address
  • Name
  • Mobile number
  • Purchase history
  • Form conversions
  • Location (via shipping and billing addresses)
  • Behavioral data (via browsing and queries)

Without access to IDFA (and as we move into a cookie-less world), marketers need to rely more heavily on first-party data. The good news is first-party data has many benefits over third-party data, including:

  • More accurate data. Because you are collecting data directly from customers, you know it has not been altered
  • The ability to collect the exact data you want in the format that works best for your team
  • Real-time processing, meaning you can review and react to data as soon as you receive it

First-party data can be a real competitive advantage for your brand—but only if you know how to collect, analyze, and act upon the data.

How advertisers can collect and leverage first-party data

To meet the changing privacy landscape, mobile app marketers will need to change how they collect and analyze data.

“First-party data is king,” explains Nii Ahene, Chief Strategy Officer at Tinuiti. “Our advice to all advertisers is to start the process of creating a usable identity graph of customers and prospects with an email address or phone number as your primary key to ensure your organization can continue to market on a 1-to-1 level across ad products.” 

We recommend these six strategies for expanding on and leveraging your first-party data: 

1. Encourage user registration. When users create an account through your app, you have more access to customer behavior than a non-registered user. We recommend building a user profile by collecting information upfront. 

2. Run surveys. In-app surveys allow you to gamify data collection, which in turn lets you collect more first-party data and better segment your audience.

3. Consider using a CDP. A Customer Data Platform (CDP) connects to every channel you use to collect first-party data, then integrates that data into a single platform. As a result, CDPs give marketers better insights about customers and more personalized customer experiences based on concrete data rather than assumptions or guesses. 

4. Leverage Consumer-Consented Behavioral data. This type of data shows you where users are in their consideration cycle. Use this data strategically to turn those at risk of churn into loyalists. Again, provide what your customer is looking for and understand their needs.

5. Look beyond first-party digital data. Remember to combine your online and offline data. Know how to use your data and make it work for you. Your offline data is just as valuable and will help advertisers gain a holistic understanding of their business. 

6. Pay attention to data regulation & follow the rules. Build and establish trust with your users. Privacy-first is not a trend—this is the new norm moving forward. Those who adapt quickly are in a better position to be successful in 2021 and beyond.

To better understand consumers and meet their needs, high-quality data is essential. With Apple’s move towards a more privacy-centric advertising environment, more marketers move towards first-party data to personalize the user experience. Start with our six recommended strategies to be successful on iOS 14.5. 

Tinuiti is the largest independent performance marketing firm across Google, Facebook and Amazon. With expert knowledge in search, social, Amazon & marketplaces, mobile apps, CRM & email marketing and more, Tinuiti understands success requires both strategy and channel specialization.