How to navigate the iOS 14.5 update in your digital marketing

2021 is rapidly shaping up to be a defining year in terms of privacy on the internet. We’ve written previously on The Drum about Google’s movement away from utilising third-party data, while Apple’s iOS 14.5 update earlier this year served to restrict the impact of the apps used by people on their devices. In particular, one of their key rivals, Facebook, has seen its ability to target apple users severely restricted as a consequence, with ramifications for any PPC strategy

The debate around privacy is becoming a clear issue for customers and one in which the tech giants define their position. Apple has undoubtedly been bullish; as well as the new changes, there’s been an #ApplePrivacy campaign which has seen TV advertising in a not particularly subtle dig at their competition (watch the ad above), alongside a video that explains the negative impact of tracking and targeting.

What has been the impact so far?

It can’t be understated how many users have Apple devices, with Apple claiming close to 2 billion of them are currently being used worldwide as recently as January. While there’s every chance an iPhone user may still connect digitally through non-Apple devices such as a non-Apple desktop, the brand devotion means there are hordes of users who simply won’t access the internet outside of an Apple device.

While Apple’s messaging was about giving their users a choice, their agenda was clear. The update and accompanying campaign have been a direct move to restrict the ability of apps to track and profit from their users. Now users have to specifically opt-in to be tracked instead of opting out previously. The consequence is that uptake has been low, with the figures reported suggesting anywhere between 10-20% of users allowing apps to track them. 

This is a considerable drop-off and means that the power of Facebook’s third-party data has seen a dint. The majority of paid media strategies have been reliant on ads utilised through the Facebook network alongside Google, causing enormous ramifications for many businesses. 

Since the rollout of iOS 14.5, there have been some significant changes in how Facebook ads now work. Some of the impacts are as follows:

  • You can no longer track conversions from users who have opted out.
  • There’s also delayed reporting from these users, with what was previously real-time data now taking up to three days.
  • The conversion window for iOS 14.5 users is now seven days, compared to the standard 28 days.

What further guidance on what this means for your PPC strategy? Book a discovery call today.

What comes next?

While the impact of iOS 14.5 is still being felt, there’s more change on the horizon; iOS 15 is slated to arrive this Autumn. Apple will undoubtedly continue their privacy crusade, which means potentially more restrictions, including the introduction of a ‘Mail Privacy Protection’ feature. This will stop marketers from knowing if and when an email has been opened.

The rumour mill is also floating the idea of even more significant change. One persistent piece of tech-related gossip has picked up extra traction recently, with talk once again of Apple starting a social network. Their last venture into that realm with Ping in 2010 lasted just two years, but that’s not any guarantee they won’t re-enter the space again. Marketers would hugely anticipate such a move – particularly if Apple suddenly became a bigger player in the advertising space.

How best to respond?

There are ways around it, particularly as even though Apple users worldwide are significant, Android retains a bigger market share. One obvious move is to exclude iOS 14.5 users with all Facebook ad activity, which sidesteps targeting users you can’t track. We’re already adapting in several ways with our ad activity, and if you want to discover more about how we could adapt these changes to your PPC strategy as a whole, book a call today.

There are also numerous alternative networks you could start exploring if you are heavily reliant on Facebook advertising. Channels such as Pinterest, Bing, Spotify, Hulu and TikTok will still be affected by the changes but may be able to offer you solutions that improve your returns. It may also be time to look beyond advertising into partnership platforms of Affiliate Marketing.

And, of course, there’s first-party data. First-party data has always been higher quality than its third-party and second-party equivalents, if at times more expensive and tougher to accumulate. Now the slow march to a cookieless future makes it even more valuable. The opportunity to carve better relationships with your audience through more substantial lead generation increases the merits of alternative and accompanying channels such as SEO and Email Marketing. Again, we’re always free to discuss any new shifts or changes in your plans.

As a final note, it’s also worth remembering change is nothing new in the digital landscape. It’s the inherent beauty of digital that the evolution is constant, swift and decisive, and equally difficult to predict. In the social realm, Apple’s failure with Ping was matched by Google’s clunky Google+, whilst the sudden emergence of TikTok and Snapchat have shown how dynamic and fresh ideas are rapidly latched onto by users looking for something new.

Targeting based on data has also been revolutionary, helping businesses reach a greater number of customers and providing the consumer with a tailored, personalised experience. Whether it’s discovering new music based on your interests through Spotify or finding fantastic recipe ideas via Pinterest, consumer data has enabled marketers to improve the user experience and connect people to fantastic products and services that transform their lives. We’re excited about how these developments will continue to improve the user journey.

Written by
Jimmy Coultas
Jimmy Coultas

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