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What is iOS 14, and Why Should You Care?

In the last couple of months, the digital marketing world has been rocked by the dramatically titled ‘iOS14 Apocalypse’. As some agencies scramble to alter their strategies and communicate impacts to clients, you may be wondering how this affects you.

If you are using digital marketing to grow your business or rely on paid social media as your primary source of traffic generation, you can't afford to sit with your fingers in your ears.

iOS14 will impact all advertisers in one way or another, big or small. So, what is this all about?

What is iOS 14?

iOS 14 is the latest release for the operating system used for all iPhones and iPads. Quite simply, it's the software your phone runs on. Every time the update icon appears on your iPhone – often the one you choose to ignore – another iOS update is being pushed, bringing new features and changes to rules and optimisations.

As part of this latest batch, Apple is updating the Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) to offer more transparency and control to its users regarding data tracking and privacy.

IDFA enables app owners to track individual user data within apps, including actions taken within the app, device information, purchase insights and more. Right now, Apple users can opt out of IDFA tracking, but the settings are pretty deep in your setting section and not the easiest to find or even understand.

The update to iOS 14 will make IDFA explicitly opt-in, with a new pop-up prompt when you open each app.

To put it simply, whenever people open an app, the below pop up will appear on the screen. The expectation is that most people value their privacy over their advertising experience; thus, it's expected that many users will merely opt out of tracking when directly asked their preference.

While this is ultimately a positive change for consumers, this will significantly impact both the effectiveness of your advertising and your reporting.

How will iOS 14 impact my sales?

The Facebook pixel is one of your core tools for targeting and retargeting prospective customers. It records when a Facebook user views a product, adds a product to cart, purchases a product or commits any event you choose to record on your website.

If you’ve built out complex campaigns, this will likely feed into your ad campaigns, allowing you to retarget people who have used or viewed your site before and build lookalikes based on active, valuable audiences. If you haven't been doing this, ideally you should be.

While Facebook is working on an advertising campaign to convince users to continue opting in, there will be users who choose to opt out. While you'll still be able to advertise to those users based on their interests and behaviours on Facebook, your capacity to target them and report on their activity will be restricted and less effective.

Expect a slight reduction in sales effectiveness as part of these changes; ultimately, you may see a higher Cost Per Click and a lower Return On Ad Spend.

It's impossible to predict the full breadth of the impact based on the data available to us right now. This affects Facebook's bottom line, but as of writing this, the crux and extent of this impact is still a question mark.

How will iOS 14 impact reporting?

Without the Facebook pixel tracking user activity on your website, real-time reporting will change. Moving forward, iOS 14 will not support real-time reporting, and data may be delayed up to three days.

This will essentially remove your capacity to report day-after outcomes accurately and create a three-day delay for all reporting.

Ultimately, this isn't a bad thing for a lot of organisations. While it means you won't be as agile in reacting to data with advertising, most large-scale campaigns should run for at least a week before you start to tinker with them so that the algorithm actually has time to try and optimise your campaign before you make changes.

Several metrics will remain consistent and will act as your true north during this period. In-app metrics like reach, impressions, engagement and clicks won't change at all. At the same time, data from Google Analytics on traffic and revenue will remain consistent.

What is attribution, how is it being impacted, and what does this mean for you?

Your attribution model is essentially how Facebook decides to credit your ads. If you have an ad running and a user clicks on it but doesn’t purchase the product for several days or weeks, your attribution model will give that ad credit for eventual purchase.

In the future, Facebook is removing 28-day click-through, 28-day view-through and 7-day view-through attribution windows for active campaigns.

7-day attribution will be the default; however, you will also have the below options:

  • 1-day click

  • 7-day click (default)

  • 1-day click and 1-day view

  • 7-day click and 1-day view

No matter the overarching outcome of iOS14 on our performance, this will have a radical impact on metrics like Cost Per Purchase moving forward.

So, what can you do?

Be prepared to weather the change; note the changes to your reporting and keep an eye on the metrics that will remain consistent so you can measure the impact.

There are several other direct actions you can take to mitigate the impact:

  • Investigate a first-party data collector to replace Facebook for reporting and data collection.

  • Pre-prepare with a prioritised set of events before launch. Facebook is advising users to use only one pixel. The pixel will only report and optimise for a maximum of eight conversion events for each domain. Facebook will initially configure the conversion events that they believe are the most relevant to your business based on our activity, but you can easily alter this for your business. We advise doing this before the launch as waiting until after the launch will restrict your advertising for three days.

  • Diversify your traffic sources by piloting new platforms such as Pinterest and TikTok.

  • Re-evaluate your reporting cadence and metrics.

The most important thing to do is not panic. Don’t go radically changing your strategy or plans until you understand what is happening. Facebook is working to mitigate the impacts of this change, and in all likelihood, the effects may be severely overblown. The best thing to do is stay aware and updated.

Keep your ear to the ground, be vigilant with your reporting, and stay informed.


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