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The sirens were sounded among digital advertisers well before Apple’s iOS 14 update was initially released in September 2020. If you can recall the headlines, there were lofty myths regarding the update – many of which, at this point, have been proven false. Although many myths were busted over the last several months, there are aspects of this evolving update that will impact your digital marketing strategy. The question is, how big is the impact?

Without getting too technical, here are the key aspects of the iOS 14 update all digital marketers need to know:

What the Update Means

Simply put, the major reason for Apple’s iOS 14 update is consumer privacy.

Each time an app is installed, the update will require the app to educate the consumer on what data and personal information the app will track before installation, and it will ask the consumer for permission to track once the app is installed. You know the push notifications most of us quickly breeze through when downloading a new app? That’s what we’re talking about here. With data privacy becoming increasingly important, the reality is many consumers will opt out of ad tracking opportunities.

Apple’s IDFA

Advertisers track iOS consumers’ data via IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers). With the implementation of the new iOS update, iOS users can opt out of the IDFA before an app install, which would cripple data collection. Since the update is intended to protect consumers, it is a slippery slope for advertisers to make criticism without coming off as insincere toward their consumers.

While Facebook and Google are the Goliaths of the digital advertising space, that doesn’t mean the latest iOS 14 update will be the David. Since both Facebook and Google have their Software Development Kits (SDK) on over half of the top two 100 grossing apps on iOS, there is still a way for them to collect data on consumer value.

How the Update Impacts Your Facebook Advertising

A study by Flurry Analytics unveiled that in the first three weeks of the iOS 14.5 rollout, the global opt-in rate for data collection average was 13%, whereas the U.S. Daily Opt-In Rate was averaged around 6%.

So, what does this mean for advertisers? When a consumer opts out, advertisers do not have access to their IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers). This means ad targeting will be limited because user behavior will no longer be tracked via the Facebook pixel. Furthermore:

  • There will be no real-time reporting on iOS 14 devices that opted out.
  • Conversions made by users who opted out that use iOS 14 devices will not be tracked.
  • Retargeting audiences will be reduced – your pixel will be limited to eight total events.
  • Finally, the pixel will no longer report the demographics of iOS 14 users who have opted out.

Essentially what this means is tracking via Facebook will be limited once the iOS 14 is fully implemented. If an iOS user opts out of tracking before an app install you will not be able to collect any of their data related to demographics, interests or behaviors. This lack of data collection will inevitably hinder retargeting audiences.

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How the Update Impacts Your Google Ads

Facebook isn’t the only platform affected by the update. Google Ads will also see a performance fluctuation. Several of Google’s campaign types will see a performance drop in targeting based on interests, which will inevitably impact ad performance. However, Google search campaigns should remain unaffected.

Much like Facebook, Google Ads will also see a reduction in remarketing target audiences – this will show negative effects on campaign performance. The two main things these changes will affect? Conversion volume and bidding strategy. Another aspect of Google Ads that will be hugely affected will be frequency capping, meaning the number of times an ad can be shown to a consumer will be limited.

Additionally, Google announced in early 2020 that it would eliminate third-party cookies from Chrome (but this has yet to occur). While there have been small attempts, the biggest shift has been advertisers no longer having the ability to target by individual, but they can target by groups based on interests. The latest from Google on this ban is that by 2023 it will stop supporting third-party cookies.

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What You Can Do

Despite these changes, there are things you can do to combat the negative effects of this update. As we mentioned, with fewer data collected from Facebook there are limitations on the size of retargeting audiences. The best way to prepare for this shift is to prioritize the use of first-party data. On Facebook, this may include creating custom audiences from owned lists of email addresses and phone numbers. Advertisers should also explore opportunities to keep users on the platform through Facebook’s Lead Ads to capture more reliable data for retargeting purposes.

Outside of Facebook, the most critical best practice you can implement is to rely more on first-party data collection. In line with Franco’s commitment to integrated communications programs, we always preach that content marketing must be front and center of every digital strategy.

As we prepare for a world without third-party cookies, all brands must consider how they will actively collect first-party data. Crafting opportunities to drive meaningful actions on your website – while having proper website tracking tools in place – will be critical. Neil Patel offers a tactical breakdown of using first-party data for ad personalization on his blog.

If there is anything this update will teach businesses and advertisers alike is that the digital landscape is constantly changing, but content will remain king.

Need support with your digital advertising strategy? Contact us.