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5th February 2021

How Apple iOS 14 Updates will impact your campaigns

Updates force changes to digital campaign tracking

Fundamental changes to data usage means a rethink on how you utilise certain platforms

“The Future is Private” was the defining statement made by Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook’s developer conference in April 2019. A statement which has resonated with big tech’s approach to user data and advertising over the past two years. From Firefox’s default third-party cookie blocking in September 2019 to Google’s upcoming Privacy Sandbox, a privacy-first approach has been powered by government regulation and growing fear from consumers.


In recent months, Apple has become the next big tech company to make drastic changes to privatising user data, announcing that its new operating system (iOS 14) will soon display an option to opt-in or opt-out of tracking across apps and websites.


With Apple’s iOS accounting for almost 30% of the world’s mobile operating system market share, this change will have a drastic impact on the volumes of data that can be tracked by advertisers.


What does it mean?

The upcoming change means that users will be directly asked by apps whether or not they give permission to be tracked by the app across other websites and apps. Whilst this doesn’t change first-party tracking, it does impact audiences used through programmatic advertising and the optimisations and tracking capabilities of platforms like Facebook for example.


Facebook has been one of the biggest objectors to Apple’s upcoming update, outlining how it’s standing up to Apple for ‘small businesses everywhere’.


Despite the objection, Facebook has been forced to take measures to prepare for the change likely to come into force in 2021. These changes will allow for campaigns to still run effectively with some limitations coming into play.


What changes are Facebook making in preparation?

  1. Users who, upon receiving the iOS pop-up, opt-out of Facebook tracking will have heavy restrictions on data that can be shared across businesses and platforms. Any user who chooses to opt-in are not affected. For iOS 14 users, Facebook is implementing something called ‘Aggregated Event Measurement’ and although it isn’t completely transparent as to how it works, this tool is meant to fill in the conversion data gaps that are lost through opt-outs.
  2. App-to-web conversion measurements and cross-domain measurement through iOS 14’s private click measurement is not supported.
  3. Default attribution windows have changed from the usual 28-day click and 1-day view to 7-day click and 1-day view (by default). This will reduce the number of conversions recorded for campaigns.
  4. There will be a maximum of 8 conversion events per domain. This ‘per domain’ is a crucial point and moves the management of conversions into the hands of verified Business Manager accounts. Therefore, companies with multiple domains and agencies will need to work together to organise conversions.
  5. Any changes to conversions are delayed. Facebook has advised a 72-hour period for any conversion updates before it can then be used as a campaign objective.
  6. Custom audiences based on all of the above will therefore be limited and advertisers should look to use both client data and lookalike audiences to supplement retargeting campaigns.


The Wider Impact

Whilst it’s easy to comprehend the changes to Facebook advertising with it laid out in writing, we shouldn’t ignore the reason for these changes and how it affects advertising as a whole. The web is very quickly moving from the world of third-party cookies into a much more privacy-focused experience online.

This change will greatly impact a lot of the apps we use today and the adverts we see, whilst also setting a precedent for further changes, such as Google’s Privacy Sandbox as already mentioned.


Should you be worried?

The changing face of advertising in the midst of big tech’s privacy changes shouldn’t have you worried, but you should be cautious and equally prepared for the approach you take on advertising campaigns.

It is likely that 2021 will be a bumpy road as big tech companies introduce new tools that will need frequent amends and testing.

At Hunterlodge, we have been preparing our accounts and media plans to function efficiently without the need for third-party cookies, through the means of first-party data, contextual targeting, creative and more.

It’s very easy to fall into the trap of assuming digital advertising won’t ever be as effective as it was, but those who change their approach and adapt quickly will achieve better results than they ever had previously.


For any queries on iOS tracking or digital marketing in general, please contact: kim.mclellan@hunterlodge.co.uk 

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