The latest Apple software update, iOS 14, delivered both practical and fun features to iPhone users. These included Fitness Plus—a paid service offering guided workouts, more accessibility features and shortcuts, and the ability to customize your home screen with widgets and app icons.
Now, Apple is releasing an even newer version of iOS 14, and this one is making significant changes behind the scenes. Apple has already confirmed that this version, currently being rolled out in beta testing for developers, will highly focus on privacy, security, and activity tracking.
While this game-changing news is a victory for users who want transparency and control regarding how and when their activity is tracked, the move has sparked a debate between Apple and companies that use tracking abilities for targeted advertising, like Facebook.
If you're a business that utilizes Facebook's paid advertising services (as many of our partners are), you may be wondering how, if at all, iOS 14 will impact you. Markentum is sharing what you need to know!
What Exactly Is The New Privacy Feature?
Even though some companies would like to believe it's not; it's pretty common knowledge that when you use an app on your smartphone, it can (and does) track your activity across other apps and websites. The reason for this is so that they can deliver you targeted advertisements based on your location, demographic, interests, and internet history. Currently, this is done with something called an Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA), which is assigned to each Apple device and allows for tracking and identification without revealing any personal information.
The new privacy feature on iOS 14, which Apple is calling App Tracking Transparency (ATT), will ask for users' permission before sharing their IDFA with third parties for tracking purposes. When downloading or opening an app, users will be asked to manually opt-in or out of this tracking. The update will also require apps to provide a summary of their privacy practices in the App Store. While this information and choice have always been present, it has been notoriously difficult for users to find. With the new update, however, the permissions prompt requires action, so it will be impossible for users to miss it.
Image Source: Apple
Think of the ATT notification as a nutrition facts label. Apps, like products at the grocery store, are not changing their practices or recipes. They are simply becoming more transparent about what they are doing and how they are using people's data. From there, it's up to the user if they want to give them access (aka: buy the cookies anyway).
Of course, many anticipate that when given the option, a large number of iPhone users will not opt-in to having their activity tracked—the most considerable concern amongst Facebook, Google, and other third-party advertisers.
Understanding the Impact on Advertisers
Paid advertising capitalizes on tracking user behavior and activity to provide relevant, targeted ads. Without this information, advertisers (including Facebook, where over 90 million small businesses rely on their affordable advertising options) lose access to data that helps them reach potential customers. According to iOS 14's opposers, this loss presents a worst-case scenario for large and small businesses: lower conversion rates, impediments to growth, the spread of misinformation, and in some cases, a complete collapse of business models and strategies.
Fortunately, the reality is not that dramatic and devastating. While iOS 14 will certainly generate some changes to the paid advertising world, we don't think it's total doomsday.
Preparing for the Change
In preparation for the momentous changes, Facebook and Google have been educating their advertisers on how best to minimize disruption. In a conference call discussing Facebook's Q4 2020 earnings, Facebook CFO Dave Wehner said:
"We do expect there to be high opt-out rates related to [the permission prompt], and that's factored into our outlook...In addition, over time, we hope to help businesses by providing more on-site conversion opportunities through initiatives like shops and also click-to-messaging ads (The Motley Fool)."
Wehner's statement indicates that, before the software update is even available to the public, Facebook has already been developing solutions to neutralize its impact. They've released several articles instructing users on what actions they need to take now and later in the future to help run effective campaigns.
How Does This Impact My Advertising Efforts?
Whether you're a small business that runs your own paid ads or you use a digital marketing agency to handle your campaigns, there are a few things you can do today that will help when iOS 14 releases.First, it's essential to understand the basics behind Facebook advertising. Facebook gathers information through pixels—a few lines of code that collect data on user activity and behavior. As of today, pixels are compiled through browser data. Browsers then hold this data and share it with Facebook, with the intention of turning data into real leads and conversions.
With the iOS 14 update, browsers will no longer hold this data, so Facebook's solution is the Conversions API. With the Conversions API, user data is stored in the server instead of just the browser. This way, data can still be collected, even if the user has opted-out of the IDFA tracking with the ATT.
There are a few simple steps that you or your agency need to follow to install the Conversions API. You can learn more about these steps here.
Does all this sound too complicated and over your head? Don't worry; Apple has yet to announce the full scope of iOS 14, including when it will be released to the public, so even experts aren't entirely in the know yet.
However, amidst all the uncertainty and ongoing discussions,Markentum is focused on getting ahead of the curve and taking proactive steps to ensure our partners' ads, leads, and conversions are not disrupted. If you have any concerns about how iOS 14 will affect your paid advertising efforts, we encourage you to contact our team today.
Markentum is a digital marketing agency with locations in Daytona Beach, Florida, and Colorado Springs, Colorado. In addition to paid advertising, we offer various additional digital marketing services, including web development, photography & videography, and SEO. For more information on our services or for a free evaluation, reach out to our team!