Three Hot Takes: What Apple’s Latest OS Update Means for the Media and Marketing Industry

By: Sheri Bachstein, CEO of The Weather Company and GM for IBM Watson Advertising

Apple’s latest operating system update, iOS 14.5, is a big step forward for consumer privacy as IDFA, the identifier for advertisers, now requires a consumer to opt-in at an app level to allow ad tracking in that app. We welcome this privacy- and consumer choice-forward update by Apple to their operating system.

My teams for both our digital publishing brand, The Weather Channel, and our ad tech platform, IBM Watson Advertising, have been preparing for this anticipated change for quite some time. Based on our first-hand experience of that journey – I want to share three takeaways about the impact of this update for the media and marketing industry.

1. Test your message. You get one chance to reach consumers. 

For publishers, this means you get one chance to message consumers to opt-in. So don’t be hasty to get the prompts out there, you need to find out what users value, and target your message accordingly. You may be surprised at what you learn. I know that we were. Test the message, learn, then test again. Then try it out on a live subset of your audience, because it’s a dangerous time to rely on instinct. Real data is critical because you only get one shot. 

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2. Every dollar counts now more than ever.

If a meaningful percentage of your revenue comes from the iOS mobile app, diversification just went to the top of your list. We started The Weather Channel subscription business 18 months ago, and we are well on our way to one million paid subscribers, so it can be done. We grew this audience so quickly by using one of our own AI ad tech solutions, Accelerator. This product is a reinvention of DCO, and it allows us to use multivariate messaging to drive subscription conversion more quickly. In fact, we saw three times the conversion. 

3. Learn from this experience.

There are more ad targeting changes ahead for our industry, so take this opportunity now to make sure your team is architected around creating the first-party relationships that you have, and then deepen the value of those relationships. For me, I don’t want to depend on any other company’s decisions going forward to drive my business. We all have to create our own destiny. 

Protecting the open web

I believe in the open web. It’s foundational to our free market and foundational to giving consumers what they want and deserve. Our industry is going through an unprecedented amount of change and transformation. We need to work together, share our learnings so we can protect the open web, and we can not only survive these changes, but we can thrive. 

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Sheri Bachstein
CEO of The Weather Company
GM for IBM Watson Advertising


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