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Why the iOS14 update is important for marketers

There’s a significant change coming with Apple’s iOS14 update scheduled for early 2021. Within the Facebook and Instagram apps (and any other apps on the Apple store for that matter), users are going to be asked if they want the app to be able to track their activity online via a pop-up.

One of the biggest changes here is that users will need to opt-in (not opt-out) in order to provide these permissions. This means that the proportion of users who decide to prevent tracking could be much higher than usual, due to the nature of the prompt and how easily they will have the ability to opt-out.

As a result, the Facebook pixel will not be able to effectively track the actions people take on iOS devices – for example if they click an ad which takes them to Safari where the conversion would take place. This will impair all conversion campaigns by reducing the data in the reports that we see (and the decisions we make from those reports), and the data that the bidding algorithm receives (and the decisions it makes from that data).

This could also impact the quality of targeting across the Facebook ecosystem. For example, if you use Safari on your iPhone to research running shoes, Facebook would pick up this activity and put you into a targeting interest category for running. However, if a significant proportion of users begin to opt-out and reduce Facebooks ability to do this, then the targeting will be impaired.

There are also changes happening to the number of conversion events you can have (8 per account) and the default attribution model is changing, becoming 7-day click and 1-day view.

Key things to consider:

  • What proportion of your audience are using iOS devices? How can you track the performance, segmented by device and operating system, once the changes have gone live?

  • Can you track conversions in another way, for example through Google Analytics?

  • Will the changes to attribution modelling and limited conversion events have an impact on your current setup?

  • If your campaign’s conversion goal is within the Facebook ecosystem, for example, a lead generation campaign, then this will not impact you.

It’s important to note that we do not know yet how significant the impact will be and whether Facebook will come up with solutions to mitigate the impact of this. The impact could be 5%, 10%, or a lot more than that – it will be important to keep a close eye on the performance of your campaigns once the change has gone live.

It’s also likely not the last significant change that will occur on the privacy front – but rather the latest in a series of increasingly tighter restrictions following GDPR, CCPA etc. and also the battle between Facebook and privacy-first technology companies like Apple.

There could also be opportunities that come off the back of this – for example, Instagram shopping is due to launch early in Spring 2021, which will allow users to purchase products within the Facebook ecosystem and thus will be trackable. These changes from Apple will no doubt further speed up the development of the shopping tools within the Facebook and Instagram apps as the incentive to keep users purchasing and advertisers advertising within the app is now much greater for them.

We’ll be sure to provide an update once the change has gone live and we have data to help understand the true impact it will have in the long term.

– Conor


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