Just when you think all is well in your marketing world, leave it to a tech giant to release a new update, causing waves of disruption in the industry. In May 2021, Apple released its iOS 14.5 updates and did just that, disrupting the status quo for digital marketing experts, ad delivery platforms, and eCommerce brands.
What did the iOS 14.5 update include? In short, Apple now requires users to provide permission for apps to collect and share data. For the average person, this is a huge and arguably positive step forward in the privacy movement. However, it’s another barrier for marketers to target their ideal consumers and serve personalized ads.
Every Apple device is randomly assigned an IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers) that helps deliver personalized ads while also being used for attribution and tracking. With the update came Apple’s enforcement of an AppTracking Transparency prompt (ATT) in their App Store. Apple will block any app that doesn’t adapt to this prompt their App Store. When you initiate the prompt, you can “Ask App Not To Track” or “Allow.” If you do not provide an app your explicit permission, they do not receive access to your IDFA.
Now, this doesn’t mean you won’t be served ads. It just means your data, often including location, won’t be shared to help personalize your ads. For example, ever walk past a Starbucks and get a push notification for your favorite drink? Not anymore. If you opt not to allow the Starbucks app access to your IDFA, those push notifications will no longer personalize an ad to you. Instead, you may receive an ad for more generic offers like more reward stars or their newest seasonal beverage.
Many consumers are unaware of the data apps track, store, and disperse. By using the ATT prompt, Apple hopes to make users more aware by giving them the opportunity to opt-in to tracking when installing an app.
HOW iOS 14.5 WILL IMPACT ADVERTISING
It’s highly anticipated that many users will opt-out, leaving paid advertising to suffer the consequences. To date, over 96% of iOS users have taken Apple up on the opportunity. Unfortunately, this means if you are running Facebook or Google Ads, there will most likely be an impact on your marketing campaigns.
Both Facebook and Google have released their statements regarding the change. Below we’ve outlined how small businesses can best navigate the impact.
Verify Your Domain
If you have yet to do so, get your domain verified! We are seeing our clients impacted the most by Facebook’s transition from pixel to domain ownership. Facebook has moved to domain ownership from their previous pixel. If you’re still using a pixel, get verified as soon as possible to avoid further disruption. If multiple parties manage your pixel, this is particularly important to ensure your data is received accurately.
Facebook advertisers are now limited to eight conversions per event, per domain. This update happened automatically and won’t impact most small businesses. However, you may need to prioritize your most valuable events for larger marketing departments, as only the highest-ranked event will be recorded. For Google, they report reduced visibility on how ads drive conversions like app installs and sales.
The reporting we’ve grown accustomed to is no longer possible, with the update bringing restricted, aggregated, and/or delayed user data.
Facebook will no longer support the 28-day click-through attribution data, reducing it to a 7-day click and 1-day view-through in the Ads Manager. However, you can still view this attribution data in Facebook’s Attribution Tool. In addition, you’ll no longer see a breakdown of actions leading to the conversion or demographic info.
There is also evidence that these changes may delay website event reporting by up to three days! Consider installing the Facebook Conversions API, a tool that allows businesses to share web activity data directly from their servers to Facebook. For those using Google Ads, Google recommends upgrading to the latest version of Google Analytics to enable AKAD Network support. You should monitor iOS mobile user performance and adjust your bids and budgets as necessary.
Audience & Ad Performance
It’s expected that Lookalike Audiences, Retargeting and Audience Networks will shrink as more users opt-out of tracking. Hence, ad performance will plummet (at least temporarily) as these strategies are widely adopted. In addition, it’s expected that the loss of conversion data will make the process of using these audiences more difficult, meaning conversion-based campaigns may suffer lower performance.
With the update only affecting Apple users, it could be beneficial to segment your audience by Android Devices vs. iOS Devices. As you continue to monitor reporting, this will help you reallocate budgets and restructure campaigns as needed.
What To Do Next
The impact of the iOS update is yet to be entirely determined as we see analytics rolling in over the next few months. Here a few steps to consider as we begin to evaluate the impact:
Monitor Reporting – We would advise you to avoid making any drastic changes to your campaigns until you fully know and understand the impact the iOS update will have on your ads. Keep up with regular adjustments and monitor your data to begin crafting a new strategy (if need be). We say this because this update will not impact all businesses. Most small businesses will see a difference in the reporting update from 28-days to 7-days and whether or not they verified their domain. If you are doing in-app advertising, you will likely see a more significant impact.
Communicate – As a marketing leader, it’s essential to communicate to your team that performance changes are coming. If your performance directly impacts your marketing budget, you must make it clear ad performance will see unavoidable changes due to the update. Prepare your teams and leadership for this adjustment and set the expectation.
Use Your CRM – With an impact on audience demographic reporting, it’s time to fully utilize your customer relationship management (CRM) software (or set one up asap!). With website retargeting likely limited, using your CRM as a data source can help you create lookalike audiences and remarketing campaigns.
Grow Your Email List – We’ve said it before, and we’ll keep repeating it; these updates show the importance of not only maintaining but growing your email lists! Using your CRM in conjunction with email marketing, you can continue to engage with prospects while retaining valuable demographic reporting.
Assess Your Organic Performance – It may be time for an SEO audit to take a pulse on how your website is performing. Of course, paid media is a great strategy, but ensuring your business has a robust organic presence at its foundation is priceless.
BONUS: Stay On Your Toes – While Apple may have taken the lead on privacy changes, Google is slowly moving in that direction as well, affecting Android users. Recently changes have been made to an Android support article reporting that later in 2021, an update will remove the advertising ID when a user opts out of personalized ads.
These updates will reshape the paid media landscape, and with it, advertisers will need time to comprehend the change and adapt to it. If you see a significant difference in your paid ad performance from the iOS 14.5 update, don’t hesitate to reach out to GreenCup Digital for a free consultation to discuss your next steps!