One of Apple's most anticipated privacy changes in years has arrived with the release of iOS 14.5. The most notable and consequential feature included in the update is App Tracking Transparency (ATT). This means when people open up certain apps (like Facebook) they'll be asked whether they consent to having their activity tracked across the apps and websites they use.
Facebook will begin including a message in its app to explain what it uses this tracking for, which looks like this:
How is Google adapting to the iOS changes?
Google has decided it will simply stop using IDFA altogether (Identifier for Advertisers is a unique number that identifies your iPhone), which means that they aren’t required to use the ATT at all. While it is damaging for Google to lose access to data from other apps, it already has a huge amount of data from its own suite of apps that it can rely on.
When an iPhone owner uses Google Search, Maps, Chrome, Gmail or YouTube, Google can still use that data to build ad profiles, unencumbered by Apple’s policy shift.
Changes in App Advertising
Going forward, the SKAdNetwork API will be used by Facebook for app advertising on all iOS 14 devices, and this will either restrict, aggregate, or delay all app event data. When it comes to campaign management, event data will be restricted to a maximum of nine campaigns and five ad sets per campaign for every Facebook Ads account. Reporting of events will be delayed for up to three days after an app is installed.
Changes in Mobile Web Advertising
The SKAdNetwork API is not the only new creation of Apple that will affect advertisers. Apple has also created the PCM (Private Click Measurement) protocol for web attribution. This protocol will strongly contribute to restricting data that businesses and platforms can access.
Apple WebKit developer John Wilander explains the tech firm’s design goals in developing the technology.
“Classic ad attribution on the web is done with cookies carrying user or device IDs,” Wilander explains. “Such attribution constitutes cross-site tracking which WebKit is committed to preventing.
“Websites should not be able to attribute data of an ad click and a conversion to a single user as part of large-scale tracking... At the same time, we want to support measurement of online advertising."
“PCM achieves this trade-off by sending attribution reports with limited data in a dedicated Private Browsing mode without any cookies, delaying reports randomly between 24 and 48 hours to disassociate events in time, and handling data on-device.”
An example of the changes to Mobile Advertising:
Suppose an iOS 14.5 user is served an ad on Instagram and is taken to a web browser to complete a purchase. Now, because of PCM, this event would be lost and not properly attributed.
Tracking users in a different geographical location will also be a challenge. For example, if a user in Spain is served an ad for a US-based company, but is then redirected to the local version of the website based on their location, the purchase would not be properly tracked.
Facebook will release the Aggregated Event Management tool to try and counter this problem. This tool will help in proper attribution of sales if an event similar to the ones mentioned above occurs.
Changes in Optimisation and Targeting
There will be a maximum of 8 pixel events per domain for optimisation, however you can still track more events for reporting and audience creation.
As more and more people update their operating system to iOS 14.5, the size of retargeting audiences will also shrink over time, emphasising the need for first-party data.
Changes in Measurement
The default attribution window will change from 28 days to 7 days post click. As mentioned previously, there will be a three-day delay on data display for the data that comes from iOS 14.5 users.
For both app and web conversions, delivery and action breakdowns, such as age, gender, region and placement will not be supported.
6 Ways to Prepare for the iOS 14.5 Update
- Verify your domains with Facebook through Business Manager.
- Plan to operate with 8 conversion events per domain.
- Select a single domain for conversion tracking.
- Find alternatives to cookie tracking.
- Consider setting up the Facebook Conversion API along with the Pixel.
- Develop “value exchange” strategies.*
*In line with inbound methodology, a value exchange occurs when the customer has an incentive to pass on their details in return for helpful content and resources (like an ebook, report, quiz, or calculator). This exchange can greatly increase your first-party data, and you can learn more about inbound marketing here.
The Big Picture
This is the beginning of a struggle between security/privacy and personalisation. Apple’s wording of the message will likely lead to a high opt-out rate, with Flurry Analytics already reporting around 85% of users globally choosing to opt-out since the update was released.
Denying apps the ability to track activity will result in less personalised ads (but not less ads overall) for users. As more people opt out of tracking, remarketing audiences will likely diminish. First-party data will then become very important.
Facebook will start under-reporting on ad performance when it comes to web-based conversions, which is where the Facebook lead ad becomes even more relevant. There are certain actions to take in Facebook ad platforms to lessen the impact of these changes.
At the end of the day, this iOS update will change a lot about the way we track activity and performance - but it's not the end of the world. Brands who adapt to different ways of collecting data and feedback will remain ahead of the curve.
If you're concerned about how these changes will affect your marketing, and want to talk about other ways to reach your audience or generate leads, book in a time to chat with me.