In today’s day and age, new technology releases have effects that are felt far and wide. The new update to Apple’s IOS 14 operating system is no exception. IOS 14.5 was released in late April 2021 and is likely to have a big impact on digital advertising.
The latest update was a major redesign of Apple’s operating system. It included several new features and implications that marketers have been watching closely. One of the more pressing concerns is how the update will affect online advertising, particularly on Facebook.
What did IOS 14.5 Include?
First, it will be helpful to understand what features were updated with the IOS 14.5 update. While most updates consist of small bug fixes and tweaks that go largely unnoticed, IOS 14.5 was major.
One of the first things you may have noticed as a consumer was the ability to unlock your phone with your apple watch. Other exciting updates included new emojis, new voices for Siri, and improved performance for AirTag and Find My features.
The big update putting marketers on notice was the privacy updates. With IOS 14.5, users have more control over where and when their online activity is tracked.
App Tracking Transparency Feature
The App Tracking Transparency feature requires apps to ask for permission before tracking your data outside the app. For example, Facebook tracks what ads and pages you interact with while you are on their platform. They also track what you search and interact with outside their platform. This is why you may see an ad on Facebook for a product you just Googled.
Prior to the 14.5 update, apps did this automatically and most users were unaware it was even happening. In order to stop apps from tracking, you had to go into your settings and specifically turn tracking features off. The App Tracking Transparency feature flips the process from an ‘opt-out’ process to an ‘opt-in.’
Now, when you download a new app, you will automatically be asked if you’d like to allow tracking outside the app. Apple’s goal is to bring more transparency to what user data is being collected and how it is being used.
How will this Affect your Ads?
For consumers, this may sound like a great new feature and privacy experts would agree. For businesses, though, it’s complicated. The main impact will be on ad personalisation.
Digital ads, like those that businesses may run on Facebook, use data to target the right people. For example, a local sporting goods store can show Facebook ads for fishing poles to people that have searched for topics related to fishing. Those ads probably wouldn’t be shown to someone who searched for topics related to dancing.
Without data collected by apps, digital ad platforms will have much less information to use for targeting. This means that Facebook won’t know that you’ve searched for “fishing gear” or “dance shoes” on Amazon, so it won’t know to show you those ads.
For businesses, less targeted ads means less effective ads. If you’re online searching for winter jackets, you’re not likely to click an ad for swimsuits, right? As more people update to IOS 14.5 and deny tracking permissions, it’s going to be trickier to show your ads to people with whom they will resonate the most.
Does this mean your Facebook ads performance will suffer? Not necessarily. But you might need to get creative.
Facebook has a treasure trove of user data on its own. Think of the pages you’ve liked and the posts you’ve favourited on the app. All those interactions tell Facebook what you’re interested in and that information can still be used to target ads on the platform.
The challenge for businesses will come with targeting audiences across platforms, such as retargeting campaigns. For example, if you target Facebook ads to users who recently abandoned their carts on your website, you may not be able to do so anymore.
Instead, you’ll need to rely on the data that you already have, along with Facebook’s data. You can create custom audiences based on your mailing list, lookalike audiences, or interest-based audiences in Facebook itself.
The update will also affect campaign metrics and reporting. One of the biggest changes is the exclusion of users who did not give tracking permission. Even if those users see your ads and convert, they won’t be included in campaign results.
Another change comes in the form of conversion event optimisation and tracking. While businesses used to be able to optimise campaigns for hundreds of different events on their domain, the new update limits them to eight.
For example, if you were tracking things like video plays or page scrolls, you may now need to forgo those in order to track more important metrics like ‘add to cart’ or ‘download’. For most small businesses, this won’t be an issue.
With all these changes, businesses are inevitably going to see a decline in performance metrics. Don’t freak out! Your ads can and will still be effective. The update just necessitates a change of perspective and a shift in strategy.
Despite what Facebook claims, you won’t feel major pains as a small business. There will still be plenty of avenues for you to build and target audiences. You will be able to personalise ads based on interests and use data from Facebook insights to connect the dots between ad performance and your key metrics.
As data tracking declines in an age of public privacy concerns, these strategies are the way of the future for businesses. The 14.5 rollout may be slow and the full impacts may not be felt immediately, but don’t wait to start preparing for these changes. Talk with our team today to find out what these changes mean for you.