How The iOS 14.5 Update Impacts Digital Marketers

by May 2, 2021Digital Marketing Strategies

What is the Apple iOS 14.5 Update all About?

As Apple focuses on app privacy and activity tracking, the new update that recently got rolled out grants all Apple users more control over their data.

Apple’s new “App Tracking Transparency Policy (ATT)” will ask its users permission before apps can use their unique Identifiers for Advertisers (IDFA) for third-party ad tracking. 

IDFA’s simply put, is a unique identifier for mobile devices running an Apple operating system (iOS, iPadOS, tvOS), and is used when shared with app developers and ad platforms to target and measure the effectiveness of online advertising on a user level across mobile devices.

Previously Apple consumers had to opt out, but now with the iOS 14.5 update, it will require apps to ask users for permission to collect and share data. The users can either opt-in or opt-out of sharing this information.

Apple's Announcement
Apple's Announcement

This move by Apple sparked a public debate between Apple and Facebook where Facebook was deeply concerned over how this recent update will impact ad targeting and tracking for many small businesses that use the Facebook platform for online marketing. See Facebooks response below;

apple vs facebook

How Does Apple’s iOS 14.5 Update Impact Your Ads?

As the iOS 14.5 update will give its users the choice to expressly give consent to track them, many anticipate that a significant number of users will opt out. This means online advertisers will have less information to effectively optimize and target users.

Online advertisers like Google & Facebook use pieces of code installed on a website or app to track user activity. When the user visits the site and takes actions such as “add an item to their cart”, “make a purchase” or “visit a landing page”, that information is sent to the advertising platform to optimize the campaigns.

Advertisers use this information to determine which ads work and which ones don’t and get insights that can help them improve the ads. For example, you can retarget a user who visited your page, added to cart but did not purchase.

Digital marketers further use this data to personalize ads to specific users. If ads are not personalized, it can also impact the number of leads that are generated by ads, and less effective ads can likely be more expensive. Therefore, it is important that digital marketers understand this change and take steps to reduce its negative impact.

Facebook Ads Impact

How Digital Marketers Can Respond To This Update?

How To Prepare For Changes: Facebook Advertising

The Facebook guide outlines the changes its advertisers expect to see on their platform.

In an effort to minimize the impact of any data loss from the iOS 14.5 update, Facebook created “Aggregated Event Measurement” which helps advertisers measure their campaign performance in a way that is consistent with consumers’ decisions about their data.

Below are the key changes Facebook will have and what you need to do to prepare for these changes:

Facebook Ads Impact
Facebook iOS 14.5 Notice
  • Conversions: All Facebook advertisers will be limited to 8 conversion events (8 pixel-based events or 8 custom conversion events) per domain. There is no action needed from the advertiser as this will happen automatically. However, as digital marketers, it is very important that we plan for no more than 8 conversion events when planning out our ads and campaigns. The 8 conversion events will be ranked based on priority. If multiple events are completed by a user (“add to cart” and “purchase”) only the higher prioritized event will be reported. Facebook will choose which 8 are the highest priority for you, make sure to check this out and re-order them if necessary.
  • Domain Verification & Enabling The Conversions API: Facebook has moved pixels over to domain-based ownership. If you use the Facebook pixel on your website or landing pages, ensure that you verify your domain with Facebook to minimize any disruption to your data. If your pixel is managed by multiple parties it is very important that you do this immediately.
  • Ads Reporting: under attribution, the 28-day attribution of any kind will no longer be supported, and neither will the 7-day view-through attribution. All historical data will only be available via the Ads Insights API.
  • Targeting: as people will more likely opt-out of tracking, the number of app connections and custom audiences for app and web activity will most likely decrease. In order to account for this, broaden your audience to capture more potential customers.

How To Prepare For Changes: Google Advertising

Google on the other hand has taken a different path to Facebook Ads and has switched to another Apple ad tracking tool called the SKAdNetwork. This ad network API by Apple helps advertisers measure the success of ad campaigns while maintaining its user’s privacy.

However, as it is considered less effective at enabling online advertisers to track users, Google is currently pushing Apple to improve the SKAdNetwork.

Below are the key changes Google Ads will have and what you need to do to prepare for these changes:

  • Reduce Conversion Visibility: Google recently announced that Apple’s ATT will “reduce visibility into key metrics that show how ads drive conversions (like app installs and sales) and will affect how advertisers value and bid on ad impressions.”
  • Upgrade To Latest Google Analytics For Firebase: Google has recommended all its advertisers that use Google Ads to upgrade to the latest version of Google Analytics for Firebase to enable SKAdNetwork support.
  • Monitor Campaigns And Adjust Bids Accordingly: All Google advertisers using Google Ads on mobile devices should closely monitor iOS campaign performance and delivery and adjust the bids and budgets to achieve goals where needed.  If advertisers run any Display, Video, or other campaigns promoting web-based conversion goals, they will see some performance fluctuations.

What Else Can Digital Marketers Do To Adapt?

Integrate Independent Tracking

Having an integrated platform that tracks and collects data across multiple channels into one free centralized platform such as Google Analytics is a powerful tool to have by your side. By using this you are not limited to Facebook’s conversion tracking. Instead, you use the website platforms tracking systems to monitor where visitors are coming from and what they do on your site.

PRO TIP: Create custom dashboards using Free tools like Google Data studio and closely monitor all your online campaigns.

Google Analytics Tracking
Google Analytics Tracking

Focus On Building A “First Party Data Strategy” & Retargeting Practices

First-party data simply put is the information businesses can collect from their own sources. This can be information about their customers or prospects collected from online and offline sources such as the company website, apps, social media, surveys, etc. First-party data can be collected for free, complying with privacy rules, and the company which owns the data has the customer’s consent. As we are living in the GDPR era where privacy is of great concern, having a strategy for collecting first-party data is crucial.

Collect data directly from your audience and customers. This can be achieved from your website, app, email lists, surveys, social media, etc. Add landing pages that ask for users’ name, email and phone number and later upload this first-party data to build custom and look-alike (similar) audiences on Facebook & Google. This will mitigate the shrinking of your remarketing audience.

The more you rely on your own data, the less you will be at the mercy of Google and Facebook or other platforms policies.

1st Party Data Strategy

Explore Channel Diversification

Allocate your marketing budget to acquire customers from new and emerging channels so that you are not over-reliant on just one single source that can be impacted by future privacy changes. A fully diversified customer acquisition strategy insulates your business to some extent when big algorithm changes or regulations take place. You can remain agile regardless of what’s happening externally. You will avoid channel dependence and will be ready to cope with big shifts.

Think closely about who your target audience is, where they hang out online, what they do there, and what they like. Then craft your digital strategy to capture their attention with tailor-made content! Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, if you do, you will risk your business when your only lead generator shuts you down!

The impact of changes like the iOS 14.5 will continue, one can even argue that they’ll accelerate with the pace of technological advancements, so you need to prepare now to stay ahead of the curve!



Segment Audience Targeting By Android And iOS Users

As the iOS update will only affect Apple users, consumers who use Android devices won’t be affected. In an effort to prevent your overall data from skewing, make separate campaigns by device for Android & iOS users.

Final Thoughts..

..."Let's Pivot Together!"

Inuri Munasinghe

While these recent privacy changes are bringing more attention and scrutiny to how online advertising is done, it will also improve the relationship between marketers and consumers. It is no secret that the general public is cautious about how their data is being taken and used for online marketing. This distrust comes from the unknown, “who is taking my personal data, and what are they doing with it?”.

At its core, digital marketing is a positive movement, we are on a mission to create personalized experiences online that serve users exactly what they want to see. Giving the power over to users to control what they are willing to share will instill trust and build better relationships with digital marketers and consumers now and in the future. So, I tell all my passionate digital marketers to go ahead and roll with the punches, make the necessary changes and always be ready for something new.

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