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What does iOS14 mean for paid social?

Earlier this year, Apple announced the latest iteration of iOS14; users were given the power to opt-in or out of sharing their personal data with third parties.

Unfortunately for us marketers, we rely pretty heavily on this third party data. Before the rollout of iOS14.5, users automatically opted-in to share their data when agreeing to an app’s terms and conditions when first installed… because everyone reads the terms and conditions, right?


With tracking on Apple devices now being optional, a lot of platforms stand to miss out. It isn’t just the social giants like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok – it’s every single app that relies on using a third party to collect information about its users.

The update is great for users (who are becoming increasingly concerned with the amount of personal data they share with advertisers). For advertisers, however? Not so much.

With 1.65billion Apple devices in use across the world, that’s a lot of lost ad revenue.

What’s happening with iOS14 and Facebook?

Facebook is currently the second-largest online advertising platform, with a hefty 23.7% share of global digital ad spend. With such a vested interest in tracking its users across the internet, it’s no surprise that Facebook has been the most outspoken critic on the rollout of iOS14.

If its advertisers can’t attribute conversions to customer IDs through cookies, Facebook stands to lose out on a lot of ad spend. It was so annoyed by the move from Apple, that it took out a two-page spread in the Wall Street Journal:

How did Apple react? With a Tweet:

While Apple may have been on a PR rollercoaster, positioning itself as a hero privacy protector for the people… they do stand to benefit financially from the implementation of iOS14.5. If an app can’t track its users through third parties, they’ll be more inclined to introduce subscriptions within the app – which Apple will then take a cut of.

And that’s (more or less) the tea.


Expect the worse, hope for the best

As it stands, we still don’t know what the true impact of iOS14.5 will be on Facebook (and other) online digital ad platforms.

Thankfully, there’s some good news. 59% of users have said that they would still allow tracking, if it helped improve their experience, and directly impacted how an app delivered
relevant content.

Without the power to track the behaviours of iOS14.5 users across the internet, tracking pixels become largely redundant, since they can’t function correctly. This will have an immediate knock-on effect on targeting options. Limited targeting options means less opportunity to serve users with personalised ad copy.

An irrelevant customer experience? Bye-bye, users.

It isn’t necessarily all doom and gloom. Only time will tell how many users have chosen to opt-in (or out) of being tracked on their devices.

So… what do we do now?

Facebook has definitely been hit hardest by the rollout of iOS14.5 In response, Facebook is making changes to how its tracking pixel is implemented, and subsequent event tracking, to minimise the likelihood of data being lost. Here are some steps you can take:

Adapt for Aggregated Event Measurement:

Facebook has set a limit of eight conversion events (either custom or pre-determined) for optimisation and reporting. Moving forward, ad sets not optimised for any of those eight conversion events won’t be delivered.

Make sure all of your domains are verified

Now, Facebook wants every single domain verified. So, your UK site will need a pixel, and your US site will need a separate pixel. If your domains aren’t verified, you won’t be able to set (or edit) conversion events.

Remember, you’ll need to verify the domains in the client’s Facebook Business Manager, too – not yours.

Keep your Facebook SDK up-to-date

The latest version of Facebook’s SDK is 8.1 – and keeping it up-to-date is best practice anyway. You’ll be able to continue serving personalised ads to iOS14 users, and receive app conversion event reporting.

Anticipate future data loss

Inaccurate data is every advertiser’s worst nightmare. A loss in conversion data will have a knock-on effect on the performance and reliability of your future campaigns.

To help negate the impact of iOS14 on reporting, you may need to look into working with a third party that will collect first-party data.

Key Takeaways:

  • Apple now requires that all App Store apps prompt users to opt-in or out of sharing their data, and being tracked by third parties.
  • The policy is causing friction between Apple and advertisers, who rely on third-party data to track user behaviour across other apps and websites.
  • Advertisers will see a limited ability to accurately retarget and measure campaign performance when targeting iOS users,

In the wake of several Facebook controversies (hello, 2016 US Election), it’s no surprise that Apple is implementing more privacy measures, in an attempt to help keep its users safe online. And, unlike lawmakers (who can only enact policies to punish the non-compliant – like with GDPR in the UK) – Apple controls the hardware and the App Store on iOS devices. That means they can force all apps to comply with their terms.

iOS14 making its presence felt in your online advertising results? Get in touch with our team today, to find out how we can help.

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