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Apple’s iOS 14 Privacy Update Demands Action from Marketers

Friday 30 April 2021

9 minute read

By Sarah Burns

Consumers are excitedly awaiting the iOS 14 update from Apple which means data tracking permissions are about to become front-and-centre of the iPhone user’s experience. 

As a consumer, I’m excited to finally get the option to choose whom my data is shared with, and how my activities on my phone are monitored - no more creepy Facebook and Instagram ads that seem to solve the problems within my recent search activity. 

As a marketer, I’m panicked that my carefully curated targeted paid ads are suddenly going to be rendered useless. 

So, what can we do as marketers and what actually is the iOS 14 update going to do?

What is the iOS 14 update?

For all Apple iPhone users, once rolled out, the iOS 14 update will mean that whenever you download an app from the App Store you will get a pop-up asking if you want to grant the app permissions to track your activity across apps and websites owned by other companies. 

It’s feared that most consumers will click ‘Ask App not to Track’ meaning that Facebook will no longer be able to measure the efficacy of ad campaigns and target segments of the population, as this is the exact access they need. 

The update will apply to all apps in the App Store, including Facebook-owned Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp. 

It means you should already be thinking about diversifying your advertising strategy, but what can you do? 

Facebook themselves have launched a campaign with the hashtag #SpeakUpForSmall in response to the Apple update.

What will happen as a result of the update?

Facebook’s most popular tracking method is via the Pixel, pieces of code installed on apps and websites to monitor user behaviour and target based on the data found. It allows you to retarget users such as web visitors that have added items to their cart but didn’t complete the purchase. 

Pre-update you can place as many Pixels as you like, monitoring every user interaction on your website and/or app if you wish. Going forward, you will only be able to place eight Pixels, significantly reducing the data you can collect, report on and utilise. 

If users opt out of data sharing permission, they won’t be trackable by Pixels at all. 

Additionally, if Facebook is unable to track user behaviour because of app permissions, its targeting function will be severely restricted - your ad spend will become less efficient, less effective and likely, more expensive, as competition for the few that ‘Allow tracking’ become akin to gold dust. 

There is, however, a light at the end of the tunnel, and in next week’s post, we will be identifying the ways around the Apple iOS 14 update to maintain your staying power within the Facebook Advertising platform. 

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