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The new Apple iOS update – how it’s going to impact your business

By April 26, 2021July 25th, 2023No Comments

In what is predicted to be a monumental change in data privacy, Apple’s IOS 14.5 update has now launched and it could have a significant impact on some of your digital campaigns.

This is a result of the new privacy settings which essentially will block tracking of digital marketing activity that originates on an iPhone, unless the user opts-in.

So what exactly is the update and most importantly, how will it impact YOU? We’ve done our research and we’re here to help!

So what’s in the update?

Advertisers are losing the ability to track people clicking their ads on Apple devices – meaning a substantial loss of data for all advertising campaigns.

Apple is blocking tracking of IDFAs (this refers to Apple’s “Identifier for Advertisers”, used by Apple devices and currently shared with Ad platforms).

Apple is changing the tracking prompt that people see when installing apps on their iPhone from opt-out to opt-in. “users will be presented with a prompt to allow or deny tracking as necessary when opening apps on iOS “.

The simple point to understand is that the default in iOS 14.5 will be for tracking to be disallowed. A user will have to click a button for tracking to work. This is a game changing move projected to significantly shake up digital advertising as we know it.


Other changes in the update:

  • Limited & Under-Reported Data: With the expectation that more people will opt-out of ad tracking, advertisers will lose some of the ability to deliver personalised ads or curate personalised marketing campaigns and report on the results. Conversions may still happen, but advertisers will not be able to track, optimise for, or report on those actions. Facebook will only be able to report on Aggregated events model which is a protocol that allows for measurement of web events from iOS 14 users based on estimated statistical measurement modelling
  • Fewer Optimisation Events: Before the rollout, an advertiser was able to track unlimited events on their site or app. Now you can track maximum of 8 events (purchases, add-to-carts, signups, etc)
  • Smaller Website Remarketing Audiences: As more users update to iOS 14 and opt-out of data tracking, the size of remarketing audiences will shrink. This means it will be harder to reach people who will show an interest in your business, until they share their personal information with you.
  • Delayed Reporting: Facebook website event reporting might be delayed up to 3 days
  • Conversion Window: Before this rollout, advertisers were given options to report on different conversions window to up to 28 days post-click/view. However, now only 7 days post-click/view window will be supported. As a result of this, fewer conversions will be reported and Cost per result going high. However, this does not mean you will not be able to see any reported conversion, you can use a tracking tool like Google Analytics to monitor the overall performance of the website and start using UTM parameters in your ads.
  • Restricted Audience Characteristic Data: After the rollout of iOS 14, we won’t be able to gather data on different characteristics like age, gender and region. It will become difficult to report and analyse the audience characteristics.

What do you need to do to adapt?

  1. Verify your domain in Facebook Business Manager.
  2. Set up and prioritise up to eight web events per domain in Events Manager
  3. Review ads and ad sets that will be paused via the Resource Center tab in Facebook Ads Manager
  4. Start preparing campaigns to collect user information. For example, focus on getting people to sign up for newsletters, or create an account on the website
  5. Create multiple Lookalike audiences now based on the historical data available on your Facebook Pixel and Google Ads/Analytics
  6. Regularly upload your email list to Facebook and Google, in order to strengthen your remarketing campaigns
  7. Create lookalike audiences from your email list to reach out to more relevant people.
  8. Make sure that the Auto-Advanced Matching is turned on in Events Manager on Facebook. 

Does it affect Google Ads, as well?

Google’s response to the iOS 14 update has been less intense. Google isn’t directly impacted by the new iOS policies. Having said that, advertisers should start preparing for some changes on Google Ads too.

Performance & Delivery Fluctuations: There will be some performance and delivery fluctuations over the next few weeks on iOS. However, The search ads performance will not be affected at all.

Only Google Discovery, Display & YouTube campaigns would be affected which are using Interest based targeting.

Enhanced Conversion Modelling: Google will follow Facebook in enhancing their tracking. Google will be enhancing their “modelled” conversion metrics to cover up for the loss of data from iOS 14 devices.

However, there will be some data loss and reporting delays from Google Ads as well.

Remarketing:  As expected, Google remarketing will also take a hit from this update, however, not as significant as Facebook. Conversions tracking will be limited to click-based only, which simply means that impressions based conversion tracking will not work at all, you won’t see impressions based results from your remarketing campaign except if they click the ad directly.

Display/YouTube Campaigns: If you are fond of Display & YouTube campaigns, things are going to get a little difficult for you. This is because you will have far less ability to target people based on interest or characteristics.

When is the exact iOS 14.5 release date?

IOS 14.5 is LIVE. The Apple iOS update has started rolling out now and is available for users to download and update through their phone settings as of now.

What other advertising changes have come?

Apple’s new iPhone software update includes a major privacy feature called App Tracking Transparency, which requires apps to request permission before gathering user or device data. Specifically, the update changes the Identifier for Advertisers

(IDFA), a unique, random number assigned to each iPhone that allows advertisers and developers to track user behaviour, including app usage and web browsing behaviour. The IDFA is often used to personalise advertisements.

This new update now requires developers to request permission before they can track users.

A spokesperson for Apple said the new privacy features were developed to “provide transparency and give users a choice if their data is tracked.” Apple requires all developers to adhere to the new policies, but will not require software makers to make the update immediately.

Please note, these changes will likely NOT affect the following to the same extent:

  • Android users
  • Desktop users
  • Users that opt-in to tracking
  • Advertisers that use broad, interest-based targeting
  • Advertisers that use first-party data collected directly from consenting customers

Final Thoughts on the update

Do you need to get into panic mode?

We would say NO, there is no need to panic yet.

We do know that a lot of businesses are going to get affected in terms of reach, data reporting, return on ad spend and a shake to their remarketing list.

The one thing we would recommend at this point is to start collecting the email addresses of the audience that you are targeting. Get their information as soon as they enter the marketing funnel, so that you can still remarket and create lookalike audiences!

As the update comes into effect and we start to get a clearer idea of what we’re working with, have no stress as we’ll tweak and notify you of our recommendations accordingly!

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