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The Impact of iOS 14 On Your Digital Marketing

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With the release of iOS 14, Apple tightened its privacy practices in a way that will impact a brand's ability to run targeted digital campaigns in 2021 and beyond.

What's the Big Deal With iOS 14

Put simply, iOS 14 requires app developers to obtain a user's consent to not only track their online behavior, but also understand precisely what activity is tracked and why.

You may have seen the recent news coverage focused on the public argument between Apple and Facebook, which resulted in Facebook running two back to back full-page ads in The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and The Washington Post.

iOS 14 Privacy | Facebook vs Apple | Facebook Full Page Ads | Digital Marketing Agency | Atlanta GeorgiaWhile Facebook claims to be in this fight on behalf of small businesses, it's much more likely that they are concerned about its impact on their main source of revenue: advertising.

Tim Cook Apple Tweet | iOS 14 Privacy | Facebook | Digital Marketing Agency | Atlanta Georgia

Apple is not alone in making shifts towards a more private experience online. Earlier this year, Google announced plans to begin moving away from third-party cookies within its Chrome browser. And compliance with Europe's GDPR requirements (and California's CCPA) has become old news.

However, what makes Apple's move so newsworthy is how much digital marketing relies on mobile:

  • The share of Americans that own smartphones was 81% at the start of 2019
  • In that same year, smartphones accounted for 84% of the holiday season's e-commerce growth
  • Apple controls 50% of the US smartphone market share
  • Over 26% of iPhone owners updated to the new iOS within five days of its release.

So, the question is, how many consumers are expected to opt-out of tracking? The answer may result in a new barrier to understanding the effectiveness of digital campaigns.

iOS 14's Impact on Marketing

In many cases, immediate 'click and buy' activities will remain trackable without much change. This means that, moving forward, "last click" attribution may be the most reliable model to track.

Additionally, behavior within the walls of Facebook is fair game. For example, if Facebook sees that you're a member of a Facebook group or page about video games, you will see ads for video games.

It's when you leave Facebook and visit another app or your phone's browser where these new privacy settings come into play. Let's say that you leave Facebook to shop for sneakers on your phone. After doing so, when you return to Facebook, they won't be able to use third-party activity for ad targeting to sell you sneakers unless you have permitted them to do so.

Other situations that will impact reporting will be in cases of longer buying journeys or location-based activity.

For example, someone who views or interacts with your campaign, but does not act until a few days later, will not have their purchase activity tied to the ad that ultimately won the sale.

As for location-based activities, iPhone users can now choose between providing their precise location or their approximate location on an app-by-app basis. For those who select an approximate location, the tracking and analysis of in-store foot traffic driven by ads will be affected.

What Brands Should Focus On

Despite Facebook's full-page ads, this should not have a significant impact on your paid social spend. Instead, brands will want to reevaluate how audiences are targeted, campaigns are tracked, and reassert focus on their creative and content efforts.

The continued move to a more transparent and private online experience emphasizes the importance of lead generation campaigns to collect first-party customer data, such as email addresses and phone numbers, from your prospects and customers. In some cases, this may spur the need for the creation of ongoing, engaging content that offers entertainment or value in exchange for personal data, such as developing a loyalty program.

Additionally, you may begin to see brands that already possess a tremendous amount of customer data, such as CVS and other loyalty-card retailers, begin to position themselves as a media channel in order to monetize their first-party customer data.

Questions To Ask Yourself

Heading into 2021, and knowing that these privacy changes may have a direct impact on your ability to target your audience, and more importantly, connect your marketing campaigns to your bottom line, you'll want to ask yourself:

  • Do you have a lead generation plan in place? If so, is it fully optimized and compliant?
  • Do you have lead nurturing campaigns in place to help transition those new leads from engaged prospects to loyal customers?
  • If you're an iPhone or Safari user, will you be sharing your data and precise location across apps or taking advantage of these new privacy settings?

Let us know in the comments!