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Apple’s privacy changes to iOS14 arrived. Here’s what you need to know!

There’s been a lot of buzz in the digital world around Apple’s iOS14 update. Especially around how it relates to Facebook advertising. As some have already heard, Apple has announced that, as part of its latest iOS update, it will be requiring apps to explicitly ask users for permission to collect and share data. 

This is of course good news for the data privacy movement which is only starting to pick up speed. However, it represents important changes for performance marketers. With that in mind, here’s the questions we will be answering today:

  • What’s the so-called iOS 14?
  • How will it affect your Facebook advertising?
  • How can you best plan and strategize in response to the update?

Let’s get started!

What’s the so-called iOS14 update?

In short, Apple’s newest iOS14 update will be giving users the choice to block the IDFA identifier at the app level. Now you might be wondering “wait, what does IDFA even mean”? And that’s a great question. An IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers) is the name given to a unique identifier for mobile devices. This identifier is used to target and measure effectiveness of advertising campaigns on a user level across mobile devices.

“Ok… so what’s changed by this?” As of now, all apps in the App Store are required to show a prompt to their users on iOS devices. They are essentially asking the user for permission for the app to track them outside the platform in different ways. So something like this:

Iphone displaying a prompt example of how it will look like for apps to ask users for their permission for tracking post Apple's iOS14 update.

See the difference? Up until now, users had to go out of their way to opt out. Now, they are being asked to make the conscious decision to opt in. This is a very big deal for data collectors. Here’s a scary stat: Currently around 70% of iOS users share their data with app publishers, while after this change this number is estimated to drop to 10% or 5% only! 

Now you might be wondering how all of this directly relates to Facebook advertising. Facebook is a big data system that relies on… well, data 🙂 to more efficiently place the right ads in front of the right people. So, perhaps unsurprisingly, should users choose to opt out of Facebook’s tracking, ads personalization and performance reporting on the platform would be limited as a result. 

Let’s take a deeper look at what this means.

How iOS14 affects Facebook advertisers

Let’s understand how this will affect advertisers. Starting Apple’s new privacy-friendly way to attribute impressions/clicks post its iOS14 update: The SKADNetwork. Its purpose? Sharing conversion data with advertisers without compromising any user-level data. What does it feel like to us advertisers? Like the marketer equivalent of being friendzoned by a non-corresponded crush. There’s a lot you’d like to do, but the SKADNetwork won’t let ya – i.e. granular tracking. 

Understandably, the implementation of SKADNetwork will impact the way Facebook receives & processes conversion “events” (or conversion goals – i.e. purchases, pageviews, adding products to the cart, etc). Should users choose to opt out of Facebook’s tracking, the domino effect that results would look something like this:

  • If Facebook’s tracking of user behaviour is compromised, so are the effectiveness levels of its tracking pixel
  • As a consequence of weaker tracking options, the creation of hyper-personalised ads would also take a hit.
  • This would in turn result in inaccurate reporting and ineffective retargeting.
  • Lastly, less targeting options would entail more wasted spend and less personalization of ad copy.

“But surely there must be a workaround to spare all this iOS14 hassle?” 

Unfortunately, there isn’t. Apple has made it clear that any attempt to identify users’ identity will likely be blocked. But hey – we’ve put together short and long-term actions and mindsets for you. Here’s how you can start preparing and strategizing.

Make sure to verify your domain.

Let’s be practical first. Start by opening Facebook. Go into the business manager, and hit domain settings. Then write in the name of your domain. You’ll add a little piece of code to your website that lets Facebook know that you own it. While this might sound like a small deal to some (until Apple’s iOS14 update it used to be), make no mistake. If not done, your ads will be simply turned off. (If in doubt on how to do this, check out Facebook’s instructions or give us a call – we’ll be happy to help!)

Set up a series of web events

Now that you’ve verified your domain, it’s time to set up a series of web events. (As mentioned earlier, “events” is Facebook language for conversion). The reason for this is that, in a nutshell, Apple is now deciding (filtering, if you will) what data is going to be allowed to be sent back to Facebook. So by setting up the right web events, you are essentially telling Facebook to tell Apple what “events” you are interested in. 

Prior to Apple’s update, advertisers would get each piece of information about a specific purchase, sent from someone’s phone with personally identifiable information. That’s no longer the case. Let’s say a person named Mario purchased something from a store at a given date and time. In the past, advertisers would receive all the user-level data regarding Mario’s purchase. Now, Apple will provide this data in an anonymized way, in the form of  “aggregated events”. Something like “in the past 24 hours, 50 people purchased from this store”. 

So make sure to create the so-called web events on your Facebook business manager and prioritize them in the order you would like them, since that’s the new data format available for Facebook advertisers.

Imagine a world without tracking

On the one hand you should absolutely track as much as possible while focusing on getting accurate data. However, keep in mind what the macro trend seems to be here. As we move away from *hyper* targeted advertising – which by the way we all know can get a little creepy – let’s pretend for a second that the Facebook platform is just a black box (which it might be on its way to become). 

In order to start mentally preparing for this, start putting a heavier focus on being intentional when collecting data while respecting user preferences. Make a shift towards strategies to deliver first-party data and invest in user experience.

Leverage other marketing tools

By putting a heavier emphasis on actually leveraging your first-party data, you’ll already be taking one step in the right direction. By complementing this with a cross-channel strategy that leverages other marketing tools, you’ll be 5 steps in the right direction. Tools like email, push notifications, in-app messages, SMS, chatbots, etc are about to become an even more important component of communication strategies. 

Takeaway

As digital marketers, we never had the “set it and forget it” mindset. The only thing constant about our industry is change. So let us see the iOS14 update as yet another opportunity to test new strategies and learn how to be more intentional when asking for data.

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