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How Marketers are Staying Up-to-Date in the Era of the iOS 14 Update

Ever since Apple CEO Tim Cook officially announced the new privacy features included with the iOS 14 update in December of 2020, the marketing world has been plotting our adjustments and strategies for operating under these new guidelines. We had time to prepare, and we did. But now iOS 14 is active, so we get to observe real-life examples of how familiar brands are evolving under the iOS 14 update marketing impact. 

Just a quick refresher on iOS 14 developments: Apple announced a new privacy initiative last year that gives users the option to opt-out of IDFAs. IDFAs (Identifiers For Advertisers) are third-party trackers that report data about user activity back to the advertisers. The operative effect of this change is a much smaller population of iOS users who will be susceptible to targeted ads. 

You can get more information about the iOS 14 update on the DigitalMarketer blog or our podcast

The big reason iOS 14 is controversial is Facebook’s reaction and claim that they are being directly targeted. Apple and Facebook have been feuding for a while, so this claim is not unfounded. Facebook relies almost entirely on targeted ads for revenue; so the claim is that Apple is delegitimizing Facebook’s business model. Most of Facebooks’s resistance to the update has been centered on the effects it will have on small businesses who are dependent on targeted ads. 

an example of the Apple vs Facebook feud

But it isn’t just Facebook who is forced to reinvent themselves thanks to the iOS 14 update. Marketers and advertising platforms alike are in a state of flux as we wait to better assess the reality of the iOS 14 update’s marketing impacts. 

This article will take a glance at how 3 other social media giants (Snapchat, Pinterest, and TikTok) are responding to the iOS 14 changes and what their strategies could mean for you as a marketer. 


Snapchat, an alternative messaging platform and social media staple, makes 99% of its revenue from advertising. This statistic renders the iOS 14 update potentially catastrophic. It also makes Snapchat a very interesting company to observe when discussing the iOS 14 update’s impact. 

Snapchat has been outspoken about its support of Apple’s privacy concerns. This is on-brand for the company since they champion privacy as a “core value.” Snapchat intends to continue its advertising efforts as normal and, to an extent, cut the losses on users who opt out of tracking. 

Meanwhile, they are also introducing something new called Snap Kit, which is a reimagined app advertising opportunity. It aims to partner directly with app developers to increase and promote first-party data collection. Snap Kit is a perfect example of creativity amidst the iOS 14 marketing impacts. 

Snapchat's privacy policy is in line with the iOS 14 update

What does this mean for you? Snapchat is urging marketers to prepare for lower levels of engagement and the loss of user-level targeting entirely—but you already saw that coming. As for actually next steps, they recommend:

  • Implementing SKAdNetwork V2
  • Separating Android-only campaigns into a separate Conversion Lift study 
  • Create lookalikes of your audience groups
  • Being ready to work with more contextual signals, which Snap is prepared to help you with

While Snapchat is acknowledging the change in performance metrics, they remain optimistic that this will be a short-term setback as we all adjust, and we will come back stronger than ever before. As marketers, our job is to reimagine. Snapchat has done just that to help its users and advertisers comfortable during these shifts. 


Pinterest is another big business that profits primarily off advertising. Pinterest ads enabled the company to make $756 million in revenue in 2020. So how are they protecting that revenue in light of the iOS 14 update marketing impact? 

Pinterest has actually been training for this moment even before Apple’s announcement in 2020. They have officially moved away from collecting IDFAs (Identifier For Advertisers)—a decision that they claim will have limited effects. They are also exploring ways to localize ad targeting within their own platform. This is a beneficial business move for Pinterest as they are effectively cutting out the middleman, and it fits well with their business model anyway. 

Pinterest's suggestions for marketing adjustments

So Pinterest’s plan is pretty clear… but how do we operate on this changing platform? Pinterest seems to be saying you don’t need to do much at all. They advise keeping a close eye on your performance, and supply some resources to do so on their page. But other than that, they boast about little change for advertisers. 

In this way, Pinterest is a great example of first-party data leverage—something marketers need to be watching very closely. It might be our future. 


TikTok, the newest app of the bunch, is also rapidly readjusting to stay relevant and profitable. The new social media app has proclaimed its priorities to be evenly split between their advertisers’ needs and their users’ privacy. 

For TikTok, the iOS 14 marketing impact has encouraged the creation of their new iOS 14 Dedicated Campaigns. These campaigns will be the only way to reach users on the iOS 14.5 platform. TikTok is using the iOS update to compartmentalize its ads. These ads will still be targeted, but by back-tracking using ARPU (Average Revenue Per Unit, a metric that boils the return down to each individual unit) instead of IDFAs.

TikTok also makes a point to admit that they aren’t quite sure what this will look like come next year, or the year after. Essentially, they are saying “stay tuned!” And, while that’s a little scary, it’s true. We are all staying tuned right now as more data is collected and the real marketing impacts from iOS 14 are observed. 

TikTok promises to support their partners as things are changing

But there are a few things you can do in the meantime to help your business thrive during these changes. 

3 Tips for Surviving (and Thriving) in the Era of iOS 14

1. Lean into Your Email List

It’s one thing that won’t be leaving you no matter what. Essentially you’re falling back on that hard-earned data you already have, and there’s no shame in that. You know what they say: keep your friends close and your email list closer! 

You probably already know how to email market your way to victory, so this is a great foundation to stand on when everything else seems iffy thanks to the iOS 14 marketing effects. 

2. Invest in Organic Growth 

Another thing you can focus on instead of targeted ads is your company’s organic growth. The key here is to worry about what you can control. In many ways, you simply cannot control the marketing effects of the iOS 14 update. But by building your organic outreach, you can ensure you are still reaching new audiences. 

We’ve all heard the phrase “build it and they will come.” This is a similar thought process. If you build out more organic content, your customers will find you on your own. Take the time to optimize your business and trust it to help sell itself. 

3. Utilize Lookalike Audiences

That said… as marketers, our job is still to take our best product and present it in the best possible light. Using email lists will help present it and prioritizing organic growth will ensure you have the best product possible. Our last tip will help you reach the audience who needs your product. 

By creating a lookalike audience, you are using what you know about your current clientele and leveraging that information to create a similar audience. Once again, the heart of this tip is to fall back on what you have already have. By analyzing your past campaigns, you can accurately predict your new target audience. 

If these three tips sparked your interest, check out Eva Gutierrez’s “5 Things to Do Right Now to Help Your Business Survive the iOS 14 Update.” 

Ultimately, the iOS 14 update marketing impact will centralize around getting rid of third-party data. And while this does affect some strategies, it also offers us an opportunity to explore new paths. Apple is doing what it believes is best; Facebook is doing what it believes is best; these larger brands are doing what they believe is best; now it is our turn. And thanks to our 3 foundational tips on how to beat iOS 14, you’re ready to go play your best game. 

Remember, iOS 14 and these new challenges are such small hurdles to jump when you look back at how far you’ve come in creating and building your business. Things are a little bit uncertain right now but one thing is for sure: here at DigitalMarketer, we will always on your team. 

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