MOLOCO: E-commerce Advertising Costs for Tracked Users Up 200 Percent Since iOS 14.5

A Study covering billions of ad bids reveals how e-commerce marketers can adapt to the rising price of CPA advertising

E-commerce marketers need to adopt new strategies to navigate the rising mobile advertising costs caused by Apple’s revamped App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework, according to new research from MOLOCO , a leader in machine learning and growth solutions for mobile marketers and e-commerce companies. MOLOCO is research report entitled E-Commerce CPA Trends on iOS found that the price of cost-per-acquisition (CPA) advertising in e-commerce marketing has risen by 200% for tracked users and by 155% for non-tracked users. Now available to download for free, the report explores the impact of ATT on iOS advertising. It recommends marketers prioritize diversification and innovative technology to respond effectively.

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Drawing on data from 33.3 billion programmatic advertising bids, 2.2 billion ad impressions served, 8.2 million clicks, and 95,000 actions, MOLOCO’s in-depth study uncovers CPA rate shifts and user behavior developments in the post-IDFA era. The study indicates that the cost of CPA ads has increased for both tracked, or opt-in, and non-tracked, or opt-out, iOS users. The report recommends e-commerce marketers deploy three tactics for dealing with the shift: Minimize risk by diversifying traffic sources; optimize more campaigns for ROAS; and use new techniques like machine learning to help maximize ad spend.

“Apple’s privacy changes are ushering in a new era in digital marketing,” said Ikkjin Ahn, co-founder and CEO of MOLOCO. “Advertising costs are increasing, and e-commerce marketers need to adapt. This is a big reason why we created MOLOCO Cloud. For e-commerce marketers looking to optimize their budget through these challenging times, technology like ours can be an integral part of the solution.”

Other findings from MOLOCO’s E-Commerce CPA Trends on iOS report include: 

  • Tracked users fell from 73% of Apple users at the beginning of the year to 32% by the end of June. The pace of opt-outs slowed through the second half of June, but additional updates may put more downward pressure on the number of tracked users on Apple’s ecosystem.
  • Between the iOS 14.5 and the iOS 14.6 updates, 8% of Apple users opted out of tracking. iOS 14.6 accelerated opt-out rates, as an additional 26% turned down tracking from its release through the end of June. Unlike iOS 14.5, iOS 14.6 was an automatic update, pushing more users to decide on privacy. This indicates that most users will decline tracking when asked, and e-commerce marketers should adapt by using new approaches to mobile advertising optimization.
  • CPA costs for tracked users increased by 63% after the release of iOS 14.5 and 94% more after iOS 14.6 went live — a 200% total uptick in price. This trend gives advertisers room to expand their efforts within the Android ecosystem, where tracked traffic remains plentiful.
  • CPA costs for non-tracked users increased by 173% after the release of iOS 14.5 and decreased by 6% after the iOS 14.6 update — a 155% move in price overall. The price may have backtracked due to the surge in non-tracked users that occurred after Apple’s latest release.