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ios14 and Marketing: How Apple’s New iOS Will Impact Your Digital Marketing Efforts

Apple just released iOS 14.5, the newest update for iPhones and iPads. While this comes with exciting new features such as the ability to unlock your phone while wearing a face mask, this update also poses challenges for digital marketers. Apple added tons of new privacy features that will completely alter the way that marketers interact with Internet users. Here’s everything you need to know.

Transparency on Tracking

One of the most pivotal changes Apple is making is asking app users for direct permission to be tracked. Apple is enforcing an AppTrackingTransparency (ATT) framework through which users will receive a pop-up asking whether or not their activity can be tracked. All apps that do not make this adjustment will be blocked from the App Store.

Users are typically tracked through an Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA), which is a random number assigned to each device used for tracking, attribution, and the delivery of personalized ads. Currently, about 70% of iPhone users share their IDFA. This is expected to drop to about 10%.

Tracking with an IDFA occurs in a few ways. This includes the display of targeted advertisements based on collected data from other websites and apps, sharing location data, and sharing email lists.

With the lack of data from iPhone users keeping their IDFAs private comes much less ability to share targeted, personalized mobile ads. Reaching those audiences most likely to purchase as a result of an ad is going to become very difficult. And even if you are able to convert them, tracking that conversion will be an obstacle.

What This Means for Facebook Ads

In response to the privacy changes from iOS 14.5, Facebook is making some changes of their own. These are the major changes that will impact your ad campaigns:

  • When joining the platform, you will need to verify your domain with Facebook and set up a maximum of 8 conversion actions to optimize for.
  • Only one mobile app can be linked to an advertising account.
    • Each mobile app is limited to a maximum of 9 simultaneous ad campaigns.
    • Active campaigns cannot be turned off; you’d now have to delete and recreate the campaign.
  • Each campaign is limited to 5 ad sets of the same optimization type.
  • Every ad set in a campaign must have the same optimization choice.
  • Facebook cannot and will not hold data for long periods of time. In addition, data reports may be delayed up to 3 days. You can see where this presents an issue – data can drop off in the interim.
  • There will be no Facebook reporting based on age, gender, location, or ad placement. Optimization opportunities become limited. (You can, however, still use Google Analytics to find similar information!)
  • The 28-day click-through, 28-day view-through, and 7-day view-through attribution windows will no longer be available. Most agencies (us included!) reported on a variation of 28 day and 7 day view through attributions previously. Most advertisers (even non-agency) defaulted to this window. The expectations set by these attribution windows in terms of results will be shattered.
  • 1-day attribution windows will provide better and more accurate insight on sales in real-time, where 7 day attribution windows (click, not view through) will not. Why? Because 1 day attribution can be used to track people who opt out. No other attribution window can. This is a really good attribution setting for flash sales. Otherwise, this isn’t that helpful, since it takes more than one touch generally to drive a conversion.
  • In addition to all of these changes in how Facebook Ads are run, with more and more people opting out of tracking with iOS 14.5, it will become increasingly difficult to target Custom Audiences on Facebook. Essentially, retargeting via the pixel will become very difficult, because audience sizes will reduce so much. We may have more luck with list-based targeting (email lists, customer lists, etc) where email addresses can be matched on the platform.

These changes will absolutely create challenges for digital marketers, but Facebook will remain a top platform for ad conversions, even with decreased personalization. Prospecting via interest audiences will become more prominent (since Lookalikes will be impacted by pixel limitations), and driving traffic to your website should remain a top priority!

What This Means for Google Ads

The assumption is that in the wake of this enormous change, many advertisers will shift to Google. We don’t doubt it.

The changes on Google’s end are much less extreme than Facebook’s changes, but there are a few things to know. First of all, advertisers are soon going to start seeing some fluctuations in the performance of their campaigns. It is crucial that advertisers keep a close eye on budgets, targets, and bids now and adjust their campaigns accordingly. Google says that it’s likely that iOS 14.5 will “reduce visibility into key metrics that show how ads drive conversions.” Luckily, Google as a platform focused on keyword-driven conversions, and we should still see it function as it should. Optimizations and metric based changes will be a bit tougher, but the impact is less dramatic in terms of results here (for now).

This lack of data isn’t the end of the world though. We all know that marketing is a funnel, and our channels all work together. As long as we continue to keep in mind the customer journey, we can continue to market efficiently across all platforms.

The good news…

First of all, iOS 14.5 has no impact on Android devices. Keep in mind that about 47% of smartphone users in the United States have an Android, so changes in Apple’s Privacy Policy aren’t the end-all-be-all.

Additionally, your email marketing efforts won’t be impacted much. Since email is an opt-in marketing channel, there is already a similar privacy protocol to iOS 14.5 in place. The only setback is that data from web browsing and Facebook Ads will be scarce, but this should barely affect the performance of your email campaigns.

Overall, the release of iOS 14.5 is a game-changer and obstacle for online advertisers, but as long as we adjust our campaigns accordingly we can still see the same results. We’ll keep you updated as changes continue to impact how we market. Stay tuned!

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