What does Apple’s new iOS 14 update mean for paid social?

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Last year, Apple announced that the new iOS14 would give users more power to opt in and out of sharing their data, such as their browsing history and location. Essentially, it will be like the cookies opt-in pop-ups on websites, but within all apps that use personal data (such as Facebook). Until now, users opt into sharing their data when agreeing to the app’s T&Cs when first installed (you know, those 10,000-word essays you always read before clicking the checkbox).

Understandably, many app developers and mobile platforms are concerned as they rely on ad revenue. The most vocal opposition has been from Facebook, who obviously has quite a vested interest in being able to both collect data and serve targeted ads. Facebook’s ad platform relies on the ability to attribute conversions with user IDs through cookies. Facebook also tracks user activity on other apps and browsers to build powerful data-led targeting capabilities.

Having permission to access user data impacts ad targeting, retargeting, frequency capping, campaign measurement, attribution and fraud detection (preventing bots from driving up CPCs). For marketers, this could be potentially quite damaging to performance.

The new update will mean that Facebook could be in big trouble when it comes to keeping paying advertisers happy. The potential loss from Apple mobile-device users who opt-out is a scary thought. Facebook even went to the length to run newspaper ads attacking Apple for the move, arguing that small businesses will be hit hard. Apple CEO Tim Cook however continues to defend the update as it is a more transparent experience:

What this means for advertisers

The biggest impact will be felt by those who rely on Facebook’s Audience Network placements or campaigns with an app install objective targeting iOS users.

The key concern for most advertisers will be the limited ability to retarget and accurately measure performance on campaigns that include iOS users (which will be likely, quite a lot).

Although the potential impact is still very much uncertain, there are some steps marketers can put in place to prepare and minimise risk:

  • Update to Facebook’s SDK for iOS 14 version 8.1 if you measure events within your business’ app. This will help to continue to personalise ads delivered to iOS 14 users and receive app conversion events reporting.
  • Create customer-centric audiences. Segmenting your first-party data will assist more granular targeting and create cost efficiencies to help combat losses from broader prospecting audiences.
  • Invest in new customer acquisition. Capturing 1st party data is becoming increasingly essential. Building your CRM lists will help future-proof your targeting. Lead-gen ads can be a particularly effective way to capture data from social audiences on Facebook and Instagram.
  • Consider incrementality studies to measure impact of campaigns. Reporting limitations include delayed attribution, estimated results and limits on breakdowns for results by demographics, region and placement.
  • Verify your website’s domain, particularly if your pixel is used by multiple businesses. The pixel will soon only optimise for a maximum of eight conversion events for each domain. A verified domain will be required in order to configure pixel events when Facebook implements new limits.
  • If you run DPAs (dynamic product ads) Ensure you only have one pixel per catalogue and domain. More than one pixel could impact the accuracy and abilities to optimise for conversion events.
  • Using app install campaigns? You may need to create a new ad account. A separate new ad account will be required due to reporting limitations. Apps can only be associated with a single ad account and each app will be limited to 9 iOS 14 campaigns at once.
  • Adjust forecasting platform results using a maximum of 7-day click, 1-day view attribution. If your campaigns reported using the previous default of 28-day click or a longer view-through time, you may need to re-assess any forecasting if you report on a platform-basis. Automated rules that were set up before this change will likely also need to be updated.

The exact date on when to expect the update to roll out is also unclear. Apple has made several delays to give developers time to prepare and Facebook’s continued push back may also be adding on pressure.

If you are concerned how the new iOS 14 update might impact your paid social activity, get in touch. Don’t forget to also subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date with the latest digital marketing news and insights (and so we can retarget you too!).