For those who don’t know, Apple rolled out iOS 14.5 and changed the online advertising landscape forever.
For months, we have been discussing the possibilities of what these changes will mean for advertisers and marketers everywhere. Anyone who relies on third-party tracking is going to have to change the way they do things and how they engage with their audience.
In short, Apple is putting the decision of tracking in the hands of the users, but automatically opting all iOS out of all third-party tracking and giving them an option to opt-in. When opening any given app, iPhone users will have an opt-in or opt-out message pop up. This is one of the biggest changes in data-privacy since the inception of the internet.
For years data tracking has gone fairly unchecked and users don’t know where their information is going or who has access to it. There have been many concerns raised over people’s data and who actually has the rights to use it. Apple decided to put the power in the hands of the user, so they can have more control over their own information.
This change follows others we have been seeing across the web ie. opting in to cookies or the rise of search engines like DuckDuckGo, that promises to never save or sell your data.
What does this mean?
As Apple prioritizes the data privacy of their users, everyone else is moving to adapt. Apple will still allow for third-party data collection, but with more parameters around it. They will require apps to spell out what data they are collecting and why, and have this displayed in the App Store with each app.
One of the apps that will be affected the most is Facebook. In reaction to these changes, Facebook announced a whole slew of changes to get businesses ready including:
- Removing all 28-day data tracking, leaving only up to 7-day data.
- Requiring businesses to verify their domains and choose 8 events for optimizations.
- Removing tools like analytics, attribution, and [my favorite] audience insights.
- Removing the ability to target by connections (those that like a page, plan to attend an event, or installed app and friends of those connections)
- Adding a pop-up ahead of Apple’s pop-up explaining why you should opt-in
And the changes are only getting started!
As iOS users begin opting out of tracking, businesses will lose out on all of their pixel data tracking, regardless of device.
This means that you will not:
- Be able to target website visitors (or any other pixel event) that have opted out.
- Be able to create hyper-personalized ads targeted to specific users.
- Track data for users that have opted out
- Be able to create lookalikes to events.
- Retarget users based on emails or phone numbers if they have opted out. Facebook will no longer match their email to their Facebook username if they have chosen to opt-out.
- Be able to track users that opt-out based on website events. This means that if someone converts on your ad, but is opted out, Facebook will not tell you about that conversion.
Additionally, there are new requirements for all apps across iOS to make sure they are following the iOS standards. This will affect ALL tracking platforms including all advertising platforms and all analytics platforms (e.g. Google Analytics).
So, now what?
First of all, this is not the end of online advertising! Even without tracking, there are ways to know how sales are doing. I would suggest every single business download all their data from the last 6 months and find the percentage of ad spend vs revenue.
Take your total Facebook ad spend per week and divide it by the total revenue per week. This will give you an average percentage of what to expect from your ads. Even with zero tracking, you will still be able to get this number, so it is a good place to start and a good way to tell if your current campaigns are working vs. previous campaigns.
What does the future of ads look like?
Apple’s update is only the beginning, Google already announced their 2022 decision to stop 3rd party cookies effectively killing the Facebook Pixel next year. They have also announced a similar change rolling out to Android phones in the next few years, though Android users can already opt-out of personalized ads if they choose.
How will businesses adapt?
- I see Instagram Shop (now called “Shopping”) becoming the standard for ecommerce ads. Instead of sending people to your site where you will not be able to track them, they will be able to buy your products or services directly from the app. Facebook has already rolled out shopping audience targeting, so it is only a matter of time before there is a shopping campaign objective.
- Companies will need to do a better job of social listening to their audience, building out Facebook groups, gaining subscribers to email lists, and focusing on community engagement.
- This is even more reason for businesses to rely on experts to guide them on how to get the best results possible with their ad campaigns.
Things are about to change in a big way for marketers, but don’t fret. You will still be able to build an engaged audience if you adapt to the changes coming. And even better, they will trust you and want to engage with your brand.