Apple’s iOS 14 Update, How Does It Affect You?

The ongoing saga between Apple and Facebook continues, with the social media giant now facing setbacks due to Apple’s new iOS 14 update and the affect it will have on data tracking and privacy.

Apple will increase security measures for their users in both areas, whilst Facebook want settings to remain the same, responding to the update by saying that they disagree with Apple’s approach and solution, but admitting if they don’t comply, they risk being removed from the app store and harming their business.

So, what’s the problem and how might it affect you as a digital marketer?

Why have Apple decided to do this?

Apple see this move as a protection of their users by giving increased control over how third parties are able to collect and use their data. Despite this level of control being previously accessible, users have been required to manually monitor and turn it off, which most tend to be either unaware of, or simply haven’t switched them off.

For Apple users, the update means that they will be given a notification by their devices to opt in or out of the data collection for every app on their device. If a user denies the permissions, third parties will have reduced ability to track user interactions and site behaviours with their pixels.

Looks like Apple are doing some common good for their loyal customers, no?

Well, that might be true, but there’s two sides to any story, and many in the digital industry are suspicious of the new update – pointing out the benefits that Apple are likely to gain through this move. An Increase in customer loyalty, cementing a power dynamic between themselves and Facebook, but most importantly, giving Apple first-party data on their users and being able to profit from selling high value data to marketers.

Who will this affect?

Users of Apple devices won’t feel the implications of the update too heavily, other than the factor of being served fewer ads. However, therein lies the issue, as larger brands and businesses will still be able to benefit from ads through purchasing expensive data, whilst small and medium enterprises (SMEs) could be shut out from the world of Facebook advertising.

On any social media platform, from Facebook to TikTok, and on any device manufacturer (Apple, Android, Windows etc.), getting content in front of the right audience is critical for any digital marketer. During the pandemic, this was a lifeline for SME’s, who were able to generate brand awareness and purchases online thanks to detailed targeting using Facebook’s Pixel feature.

Should this update have been more recent, the chances are that many more SMEs are likely to have gone under as a result of being forced out of their physical premises due to lockdowns and social distancing measures. The new update, however, could still have a catastrophic effect on these types of businesses, who without access to retargeting data, run the risk of promoting their content to the wrong audience, annoying uninterested users and wasting limited promotional spend in the process.

Custom and lookalike audiences as well as remarketing lists are likely to have heavily reduced audience sizes, meaning lower quality targeting and fewer overall results. Remarketing lists, in particular, will be hit hard, as high-performing campaigns will lose a percentage of their audiences – some of the campaigns having had years dedicated to finding the perfect formula.

Even segmentations such as age, gender and location will be affected, which in hand will restrict the analysis of ad performance and affect the insight which gives marketers the ability to make informed decisions when planning for future campaigns. In addition, attribution windows are now only 7 days long, whereas they were previously 28 days, meaning there is less time for data to be gathered and fewer ways to optimise for conversions.

What’s the solution?

So, how can marketers get around this?

Changes to Facebook and its advertising policies come into action the week beginning 26th April 2021. The first way you should prepare is by verifying your websites domain by implementing a TXT record (which you can find in your Facebook Business Manager) on your site, and then confirming the addition of the record in Facebook’s Business Settings

Getting directly to your audience on Facebook could be a dying art, but other avenues are still available to communicate directly with customers, such as creating your own first-party data list and communicating via email or LinkedIn, or even tapping into the world of influencer marketing.

Facebook is also reacting to the update, changing its event tracking feature and pixel implementation to try and lessen the impact on how much data will be lost – referring to this as ‘Aggregated Event Management’. However, Facebook can only do so much, and despite other platforms such as Pinterest, YouTube and the new kid on the block, TikTok also being affected, Facebook will suffer most heavily. This could potentially see Facebook’s dominance in the world of online advertising begin to decline, when marketers no longer consider the platform a main aspect of their promotional spend.

Conclusion

Apple have made regular data tracking alterations to their devices ever since 2017, when they set up an ‘Intelligent Tracking Prevention’ system to reduce the amount of tracking that third-party cookies could pick up on its own browser, Safari, however, this new update has really put Facebook on the back foot.

Furthermore, in the coming months and years, we can expect to see additional increases and changes to data tracking permissions, with Apple wanting to increase their users control and management of their own data with its ‘App Tracking Transparency Framework’. Even Google are planning on removing third-party cookie data from Google Chrome by the end of 2021

With more and more restrictions being placed on data tracking by Apple and Google, now, more than ever, marketers must stay alert and adaptable by keeping informed on the latest developments in order to not be caught out, which could waste client budget and deliver low-quality ads.

If you’re concerned about how the iOS update may affect you, get in touch with us today.