What you need to know about iOS 14.5 and how it will impact your business
Updated: Nov 1, 2021
This week, Apple sent the marketing world into a spin as they confirmed the release of the new iOS 14.5 next week. Although this pending doom is no surprise, as Apple announced it's coming during Summer 2020, many advertising platforms, businesses and marketers secretly hoped it wouldn't come to fruition.
But it's just a software update. Apple does them all the time. What's the big deal?
Positioned as the most iconic iOS update yet, it's claimed to reimagine the iPhone experience making it even more helpful and personal. And while the prospect of the fastest web technology yet is exciting, the update is also set to change the future of marketing forever.
So what is so different about the latest Apple release, and how will it impact your brand's advertising. Let's take a look...
First, let's take a quick look at the iOS change itself.
Alongside some exciting UX features, this update also includes some fundamental privacy changes. These changes will provide users with more transparency and control over what data is collected and its use.
Firstly, the introduction of App Tracking Transparency (or ATT) will display an opt-in pop up when a user first opens an app to obtain consent or activity tracking. This in itself is a significant change and will have the most impact on users and advertisers alike.
The reason? If a user chooses not to opt in, the app will be prohibited from tracking any activity or data.
Given the spotlight on data use recently from programs such as Netflix's The Social Dilemma, it's no surprise that advertising platforms are predicting low opt-in rates.
Users will also have visibility about what data an app is tracking and using within the App Store. While regulations such as GDPR require businesses to display this information for some years now, many hid this information within privacy policies or length T&C's. And let's be honest, none of us read them anyway.
So this is the first time we will see apps having to declare this information to be easily assessed and understood by users.
And if that wasn't enough, the final key privacy update is the introduction of the recording indicator, which will appear at the top of the iPhone screen whenever an app uses the microphone or camera. This insight will also be available to users within the Control Centre.
So what does this mean for business and advertisers?
While app developers are jumping through Apple's hoops to conform to the new framework protocol, many have also been preparing for changes to advertising and reporting.
For advertisers, Facebook has already forewarned that the new iOS changes will directly impact advertisers.
"Advertisers can expect to see changes in Facebook's business and advertising tools set up, audience selection, delivery, measurement, and reporting." Facebook
While the vast majority of changes and recommendations from Facebook are specific to App Install Advertisers (if that's you, head over to Facebook to learn more), some fundamental changes will impact targeting, attribution and reporting:
Facebook is limiting the number of website events that can be used for optimisation to just 8.
Users who have opted out of tracking will not be included in website custom audiences for targeting (this means ads such as remarketing will be impacted).
Data-driven attribution and long attribution, such as 7 or 28-day view-through rates, will no longer be available.
Offsite conversion data about users will no longer be available, such as age and gender.
However, one area that Facebook has remained quiet about is how this iOS update will impact their interest-based targeting. For years marketers have tested Facebook's interest-based targeting as they hypothesised that Facebook is listening even when you're not using the app. How many have you have noticed after talking about a product with friends, the next time your scrolling, suddenly there it is on your timeline?
With the increased visibility of apps using the camera and microphone to capture data combined with the anticipated high opt-out rate, what will happen to the interest targeting on the platform? The truth is we don't know right now. However, I can be almost certain that we're going to experience a decreased reach, at least in the short term, within Facebook's interest-based targeting. However, it's important to remember Facebook will not take this lying down, and I'm confident they will have something up their sleeves to help advertisers. After all, advertising is how they make their money, and they are not going to let an iOS update be the death of the platform!
Outside of social media, Google has remained relatively quiet (but that's not unusual now, is it). However, they have confirmed they will comply with Apple's policy changes, including the opt-in pop-up. In reality, how this will play out across search and display is yet to be seen, but it's more likely the impact will be more on the display network targeting rather than search itself.
So what is the impact of all of this on businesses?
The truth is we are all still somewhat confused about how the iOS will impact marketing and advertising. Even social media platforms are scrambling around trying to predict and prepare. So, until it goes live, we won't really know how and to what extent the world will be impacted.
That said, we can make some educated guesses:
There will likely be a reduction in the number of people advertisers can reach through targeting.
As a result of reduced reach, costs will possibly increase, and we may even see an impact on other performance metrics such as click-through rates.
We are likely to have more difficulty attributing conversions/sales to social advertising; however, remember that doesn't mean it's not working! Businesses survived decades without being able to attribute sales to TV and Newspaper ads directly!
The reach of remarketing ads to specific web users or events will reduce.
Despite all of the above, we know that this will mark another stake in the turbulent digital marketing history. And while change is scary, we need to remember that things are continuously changing within the digital marketing arena. Every couple of years, we are hit with something that changes the trajectory of marketing forever. For example, the copious updates rolled out by Google continue to keep marketers on their toes! And there's one thing that marketers are great at its adapting.
However, perhaps this will be the start of a more ethical and transparent approach to marketing. Who knows, maybe the likes of Facebook will allow users to proactively choose which types of ads they are shown because, at the end of the day, those ads are always going to be there, so surely it's better for the user that it's something of interest!
So what's next? If you have an existing marketing agency managing your Facebook advertising, it's likely they are already all over this. However, bear with them over the next few weeks as results may experience a little turbulence.
If you're a seller managing your own advertising account, here are some valuable resources you might want to review:
But if you're still feeling overwhelmed and in need of help, feel free to reach out and have a chat!