What Apple’s iOS 14 Update Means for Your Business
There are a lot of ways that the upcoming change to Apple’s iOS 14 is being described.
An attack on business.
A long overdue win for consumers.
Something that will deeply affect the websites that you love.
A way for users to take back control of their digital footprint.
It may seem like a lot of fuss to make about an internal operating system, but it’s true—it really is as groundbreaking and polarizing as it’s being made out to be.
And when it comes to groundbreaking and polarizing technology changes, we know you, the marketer just trying to keep the customers rolling in, often struggle to know what’s really important and applies directly to you.
Hint: this one is really important, and it applies directly to you.
So we’ve broken down the basics of this change—what is actually happening, why, and what you need to do about it.
In the coming weeks, Apple will be rolling out an update to its iOS 14 (the latest operating system for iPhones and iPads) that will allow users to control how they share their data, as well as who and what they share their data with. This change will be coming only weeks after Apple began requiring Privacy Labels, forcing companies and developers to share how your data will be used before you download a new app. Once implemented, the “opt-out” will be the most significant change ever made to an operating system as it pertains to data privacy.
Soon, your apps like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter (just to name a few) will be required to ask users for permission to track data on them. And there are lots of varying opinions on what effect this change will have, as well as who it will affect the most.
This change comes after not months, but years of discussion about privacy concerns. From election interference, to congressional investigations, to polarization, to general public distrust in tech companies, data privacy has been front and center in a national conversation about the power that tech and social media companies possess. Many feel that this new digital world has led to a lack, or outright loss, of control over your own personal data. This is Apple’s solution to that problem.
While most people, consumers and tech giants alike, would agree that an increase and focus on personal data security is a good thing, it does have a very massive effect one thing in particular: advertisement personalization.
What Does This Mean for Advertising
The expectation is that some, if not most, people will choose to opt-out of apps sharing their data. That means they will be getting much less relevant ad recommendations that could lead to overall decrease in user experience. The ads will still be there, they could just totally not pertain to the user’s interests.
Simply put, it could be harder for advertisers to reach their target audience like they do. That means online advertising, at least to iOS devices, could become significantly less effective.
Google and Facebook, the two biggest advertising networks in the world, have adamantly opposed this upcoming change. And Facebook argues that the change is going to hurt small businesses using its advertising platform.
Facebook is by far the most effective and affordable way for small businesses to advertise and generate awareness about their products. Because of the decrease in audience size, it’s going to harder to reach a mass amount of people. Advertisers will also have less guidance from data when figuring out what is and isn’t working. There’s likely to be a lot more guesswork when it comes to optimizing campaigns.
Whether you’re a small vendor using Facebook ads to sell products, or an app or content-based platform that shows advertisements to make money, Facebook argues this change to iOS will have a significant and negative affect on your business.
For starters, Facebook expects this change will immediately alter the effectiveness of the Audience Network. Without the ability for publishers to share data and information with the advertisers, businesses won’t be able to access their own user data to spend their advertising dollars efficiently. And, with the shrinking pool of consumers, Facebook is expecting the use of the Audience Network to become significantly less popular for advertisers.
All in all, Facebook may eventually remove the Audience Network from iOS. Meaning, by implementing AN ads, you will only be reaching non-Apple device users. But that remains to be seen, and it will take some time for them to assess if that’s really what they want to do.
To be fair, we’ve always had questions about its effectiveness in the first place. Although it works for some, it typically resulted in numerous amounts of accidental clicks and bot interactions. For us at DM, this will change very little.
Facebook also expects this will heavily impact advertising effectiveness for primarily mobile users. If someone is using Facebook and clicks on a link that directs them to their mobile browser, Facebook can’t track any of that information. Because of that, things like Conversion tracking and retargeting campaigns are going to suffer.
Last but not least, Facebook is introducing Aggregated Event Management to do some tracking without collecting specific, personal data. We have limited information about this, but we do know one thing: Facebook is limiting users to 8 conversion events (“buy now,” “add to cart,” “checkout,” etc.) per domain. And the advertiser will be able to prioritize which conversion events they want to track. This gives advertisers some sort of information about the effectiveness of their advertising and selling process.
Keep in mind, this is per domain. That could really affect ecommerce businesses that sell lots of products and, therefore, have lots of products on their website. It’s possible this will change or only take certain events into account for tracking, but there is really no way to know until it launches.
What You Need to do Right Now
The best thing you can do right now, according to Facebook, is verify your domain. This is especially critical for businesses with pixels used by multiple Business Managers or personal ad accounts. Domain verification will ensure no immediate or future disruption in the ability to configure conversion events.
The next thing is to begin planning to only use 8 conversion events. That means you are going to have to rank the conversion events that matter most to you. Because, once you prioritize those, ad sets not using those 8 events will be automatically paused.
After that, continue to prepare. 28-day click-through, 28-day view-through, and 7-day view-through attribution windows will not be supported. Historical data for these windows will remain accessible via the Ads Insights API. But be aware, way that many of these were measuring results is going to change, so figuring out how to quantify success through advertising is going to have to change too.
You should also adopt the Comparing Windows feature to see how conversions attributed to ads compare across different attribution windows. This allows you to better anticipate the impact to reported conversions as a result of upcoming attribution window changes.
This change has probably made your marketing plan a lot more complicated. These are admittedly massive changes, but the best thing you can do is prepare to be flexible. Things are changing for everyone. With that being said, here are some immediate thoughts and questions.
For starters, how can you really deduce if a campaign was effective or not? This is going to be a million-dollar question for the near future. With the way we measure effectiveness and our metrics changing as a result of this update, the people who figure out how to measure success will be the ones leading the way in this new paradigm.
Secondly, how can we reach all of the Apple users that opt-out? There are currently 264 million people in Facebook’s iOS users. And most of those users are in the US. If half of them decide to opt out, what ways will be able to reach them?
At the end of the day, you’ll have to get creative. And we are guessing that organic advertising campaigns may suddenly become more popular.
Facebook may be right—this may impact small business most, and it will impact the least savvy the most. Don’t panic, but be ready to change your approach. Right now, there’s lots of ambiguity that will be cleared up with experience. Once these changes roll out, we can start pivoting. Prepare the best you can… but this is a wait-and-see moment. This is simply a dress rehearsal for what is inevitable. The focus on data sharing and privacy is not going away anytime soon.