Last year, Apple announced a new iOS update was coming and now the time is here. iOS 14 has launched and, due to a swathe of new privacy changes, many marketers are in a panic as to what to do about it.
So what’s happening, and what should you be doing?
An overview of iOS 14 for marketers
In late 2020, iOS 14 launched to Apple users around the globe. For most people this update was business as usual – a few stylistic changes, adjustments to key features, etc. But it’s caused considerable stir in the world of digital advertising.*
Among a number of privacy requirements, one of Apple’s new rules is that all apps in the App Store show its new App Tracking Transparency prompt, asking users to allow or disallow tracking. But as we know, a degree of data tracking is vital for good marketing practice, such as enhancing the user experience with personalisation and optimisation. So does this mean advertising is doomed? Not quite, but let’s get into the big news.
* Due to a backlash from advertisers, at time of writing the privacy part of the update has been delayed but is still expected in early 2021.
Apple vs. Facebook
The update has started a bit of a war between Facebook and Apple.
Facebook does not agree with Apple’s approach or solution, as the social media giant has made clear. However, it has no choice but to show the prompt and make changes to its platform otherwise it will be blocked from the App Store. But once the update goes live, advertisers running campaigns that optimise, target or report on web events on any ad tool will be impacted by limitations on data sharing.
We believe users should have the choice over the data that is being collected about them and how it’s used. Facebook can continue to track users across apps and websites as before, App Tracking Transparency in iOS 14 will just require that they ask for your permission first. pic.twitter.com/UnnAONZ61I
— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) December 17, 2020
UPDATE (Feb 2): Facebook has unveiled its new counter to the iOS 14 tracking prompt requirements. The company announced it will be sending messages to iPhone users that don’t just ask if they will allow tracking or not, but tells them why they might actually want to: to get better personalised ads, and to help support local businesses using the platform to gain more customers.
Assessing the impact: Web events
The iOS 14 update will lead to less tracking of people on mobile, impacting Pixel and everything associated with it. Mobile network publishers will bear the brunt of this hit, as the placement may become less effective.
One of the new rules Facebook is implementing as a result of the update is a limitation on web events and custom conversions per domain – specifically, you may now have a maximum of just eight events per domain. No matter the size of business, you’re only allowed to track eight events, and if a customer completes more than one, Facebook will only report the event that you’ve marked as a higher priority.
While small businesses may get away without noticing this change, global brands with multiple agencies working on a single domain will likely have a problem – they’re going to need to agree on what those eight custom conversions are and how best to use them. Any brand with multiple ongoing campaigns may have an issue deciding.
Assessing the impact: Reporting
Facebook will no longer be able to support 28-day click-through, 28-day view-through, and 7-day view-through attribution windows. Also, delivery and action breakdowns will not be supported for offsite conversion events. This includes demographic breakdowns such as age, gender, and region.
This decreased window could impact how we forecast. Without good quarterly data to call upon, marketers might not be able to forecast as accurately as before, leading to a drop in efficiency. Those organisations with long purchase lead times (i.e. car manufacturers) may see an even more severe impact, as 28 days is simply not enough time to follow a buyer’s complete journey.
Assessing the impact: Android
Will Android follow suit? There’s been no official word yet but we believe a similar Android change is on the horizon for the end of 2021. However, even businesses targeting Android users will be affected by Facebook’s changes because they are universal to the platform.
So what can you do to prepare?
First, take a moment.
We got through Google’s early search algorithm updates. We got through the GDPR. It will take some changes, but we’ll get through iOS 14.
For advertisers, it’s time to take the hint – expand to new channels. Facebook and Google have been the two giants of digital advertising for years, but putting all of your eggs in one basket almost never works out in the end and this is just a reminder. There are many other digital advertising opportunities out there to seize, and as more and more apps hit the marketplace those opportunities will only continue to grow.
This is your time to explore other channels, experiment, and see what results you can get. Yes, other apps will be affected by the same iOS 14 update, but their changes may not be so severe for your organisation, or there may be other opportunities within them that you can take advantage of (organic content, user-generated content, to name a couple).
For now, be ready. This is just the start. The future will only bring more changes to the world of social media and data. If we can get through this, we can get through anything. Be creative, be open minded, and above all, be agile.
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