What Apple’s iOS 14 update means for your company

There are many ways that the upcoming change to Apple’s iOS 14 is described.

An attack on business.

A long overdue win for consumers.

Something that deeply affects the websites you love.

A way for users to regain control of their digital footprint.

It may make a fuss about an internal operating system, but it’s true – it’s really as groundbreaking and polarizing as it turns out.

And when it comes to breakthrough and polarizing technological changes, we know you, the marketer, just trying to keep customers going and often struggling to know what is really important and applies to you directly.

Note: This one is really important and applies to you directly.

So we’ve broken down the basics of this change – what’s actually happening, why, and what to do about it.

What’s happening

In the coming weeks, Apple will be releasing an update to iOS 14 (the latest operating system for iPhones and iPads) that will allow users to control how they share their data and who and what they share their data with. This change will come just a few weeks after Apple began requesting privacy labels. Businesses and developers must therefore communicate how their data will be used before downloading a new app. Once implemented, the “opt-out” is the most significant change ever made to an operating system in terms of data protection.

Soon your apps like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter (to name a few) will be needed ask Users for permission to track data on them. And there are many different opinions about what impact this change will have and who it will affect most.

This change doesn’t come after months, but after years of discussion about privacy concerns. From election disruptions to congressional investigations, polarization to the general public distrust of tech companies, privacy was the focus of a national conversation about the power that tech and social media companies wield. Many believe that this new digital world has resulted in a lack or complete loss of control over your own personal information. This is Apple’s solution to this problem.

While most people, both consumers and technology giants, think that increasing and focusing on the security of personal data is a good thing, it has a very massive impact in particular: Personalization of advertising.

What does that mean for advertising?

The expectation is that some, if not most, will choose to disable apps that are sharing their data. This means that they will receive less relevant ad recommendations that can lead to an overall decrease in the user experience. The ads will still be there, they just might not suit the user’s interests.

Simply put, advertisers might find it harder to reach their target audience the way they do. This means that online advertising, at least on iOS devices, can be significantly less effective.

Google and Facebook, the two largest advertising networks in the world, have resolutely opposed this impending change. And Facebook argues that the change will hurt small businesses that use their advertising platform.

Facebook is by far the most effective and affordable way for small businesses to promote and raise awareness about their products. Because of the decrease in audience size, it becomes more difficult to reach large numbers of people. Advertisers also have less guidance from data in figuring out what works and what doesn’t. When it comes to optimizing campaigns, there will likely be a lot more guesswork.

Whether you’re a small vendor using Facebook ads to sell products, or an app or content-based platform that is running ads to make money, Facebook expects this change from iOS to be significant and will have a negative impact on your business.

Here is how.

For starters, Facebook expects this change to change the effectiveness of the Audience Network immediately. Without the ability for publishers to share data and information with advertisers, companies cannot access their own user data to efficiently spend their advertising costs. And with the shrinking consumer pool, Facebook expects the use of the Audience Network to become significantly less popular for advertisers.

All in all, Facebook can potentially remove the Audience Network from iOS. That said, by implementing AN ads, you will only reach non-Apple users. But that remains to be seen and it will be some time before they judge whether this is what they really want.

To be fair, we always had questions about its effectiveness. While it works for some, it usually resulted in numerous accidental clicks and bot interactions. For us at DM, that will hardly change.

Facebook also assumes that this will severely affect advertising effectiveness, especially for mobile users. If someone uses Facebook and clicks a link that redirects them to their mobile browser, Facebook cannot track any of this information. Because of this, things like conversion tracking and retargeting campaigns will suffer.

Last but not least, Facebook is introducing aggregated event management to conduct follow-ups without collecting certain personal data. We have limited information on this, but we know one thing: Facebook limits users to 8 conversion events (“Buy Now”, “Add to Cart”, “Checkout”, etc.) per domain. The advertiser can prioritize which conversion events they want to track. This gives advertisers information about the effectiveness of their advertising and sales process.

Note that this applies per domain. This could really affect ecommerce businesses that sell a lot of products and therefore have a lot of products on their website. It is possible for this to change or for only certain events to be considered for tracking, but there really is no way to know until it starts.

What to do now

The best thing you can do right now, according to Facebook, is to verify your domain. This is especially important for companies with pixels that are shared by multiple business managers or personal ad accounts. Domain validation does not ensure any immediate or future disruption to the configuration of conversion events.

Next, you plan to use only 8 conversion events. That means you need to evaluate the conversion events that matter most to you. Once you have prioritized these, ad sets that do not use these 8 events will be automatically paused.

After that, continue preparing. 28-day click-through, 28-day view-through, and 7-day view-through attribution windows are not supported. Historical data for these windows remains accessible through the Ads Insights API. Be aware, however, that the way in which many of these results were measured will change. So how you can quantify success through advertising needs to change too.

You should also use the Compare Windows feature to see how conversions associated with ads are compared in different attribution windows. This allows you to better predict the impact of changes to the attribution window on reported conversions.

Final thoughts

This change likely made your marketing plan a lot more complicated. While these are massive changes, the best thing you can do is prepare to be flexible. Things change for everyone. With that said, here are some immediate thoughts and questions.

For starters, How can you really infer whether a campaign was effective or not? This is going to be a million dollar question in the near future. As we measure effectiveness and our metrics change as a result of this update, the people figuring out how to measure success will lead the way in this new paradigm.

Secondly, How can we reach out to all Apple users who log out? Currently, 264 million people live in Facebook’s iOS users. And most of those users are in the US. If half of them choose not to be rejected, how can they get it?

At the end of the day, you need to get creative. And we suspect that organic advertising campaigns could suddenly become more popular.

Facebook may be right – this may affect small businesses the most and the least likely to affect the least savvy. Don’t panic, but be prepared to change your approach. At the moment there are a lot of ambiguities that will be cleared up with experience. Once these changes are in place, we can start panning. Prepare the best you can … but this is a wait and see. This is simply a rehearsal for what is inevitable. The focus on data exchange and data protection is not going to go away anytime soon.