Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Adtech Company Report Finds Increasing Rate of iOS Users Opting Into Tracking

Adjust, an analytics and advertising technology firm, today released a mobile app trends report. Sadly, you are required to enter an email address to read the full report,1 but Filipe Espósito, of 9to5Mac, has summarized the part in question:

According to the research firm, the industry feared that the new App Tracking Transparency in iOS would hurt the mobile app market, which heavily relies on advertisements. In May 2021, opt-in rates were at around 16%. Now that number has grown to 25% a year later.

When it comes to games, the number is even higher – 30% of users have allowed developers to collect their data for advertisements. The numbers are based on a global research considering the 2,000 most popular apps in Adjust’s database. In some cases, popular games have achieved opt-in rates of up to 75%.

75% sounds very high to me. That particular stat comes from a year-old blog post that highlighted just four games: two with opt-in rates above 70%, and two at around 30%. All are from AppLovin. Interestingly, the two games with lower opt-in rates are from the PeopleFun brand, while the two higher opt-in rates are in games from the Lion Studios brand. Lion Studios makes a lot of samey apps; its latest release is, perhaps predictably, a Wordle clone.

The most puzzling thing to me is that these four games have exactly the same first-launch flow for gaining consent to track users, yet they are producing wildly varying results. The lower results are closer to data from Flurry Analytics showing an opt-in rate of about 18%. Adjust claims this is because the better-performing games were likely found through targeted advertising, so users see how sacrificing their privacy can benefit them:

For example, in the data presented above, Animal Transform and Save the Girl! are hyper casual games that are discovered by consumers via advertising. A large portion of their users will have found the games via ads and will therefore be likely to find other games/apps of interest through ads displayed within these games. […]

The key to achieving this high level of consent is to clearly and simply explain the value of consenting and sharing data in order to get relevant ads. […]

I am skeptical of this explanation. A lot of apps — a lot of things — are marketed through targeted advertising, and it seems unlikely to me that these games are special enough to diverge from that 18–30% range. Adjust also says this is due to the transparency around the consent prompts, but they are identical among these four apps.

A possible clue sits in the reviews of the four apps in question. While none of the four are listed as games for children and all have a 12+ rating, I noticed more children in the reviews of the higher-performing apps than of Wordscapes and Blockscapes.

At any rate, if 18–30% of iOS users are now opting into tracking, it is considerably higher than the 5% estimate in May 2021 or even the 16% in Adjust’s data from about the same time period. I do not like tracking, but maybe a quarter of people do. The important thing is giving users a choice and respecting it.

  1. Marketers think this is a great way to collect interested people to spam later, but they must either not know or not care about the number of throwaway email services out there. ↩︎