For years, there has been talk of massive limitations coming to the ever-changing digital advertising space. In fact, the question of when online advertising would meet its demise has been a hot topic of conversation for more than a decade.
With the newest push from Apple’s iOS 14 updates, people are once again claiming that the downfall of social media and digital advertising is on the horizon. Today, we will explore what the changes from Apple’s iOS 14 are, what they actually mean for the consumer, and how we plan to navigate them on the digital front.
Spoiler alert: This is far from the end for digital advertising.
What’s new from Apple’s iOS 14 update?
Apple released the initial news of the coming update in June of 2020, with no official release date given. As soon as they provided insights into what the update would entail, rumors immediately started swirling about what this could mean for social media—with one giant in particular, Facebook (which includes Instagram).
The iOS 14 update, which becomes a reality this week, will require all apps to prompt users with an option to opt out of tracking their data across platforms. According to Facebook, “Businesses that advertise mobile apps, as well as those that optimize, target, and report on web conversion events from any of our business tools will be affected.” There are a lot of impacts to this beyond just those within Facebook Ads, but the repercussions from Facebook and Instagram will be the most far-reaching and precedent-shifting narrative to come from the update.
Because the update limits tracking, massive changes across the Facebook Ads platform are happening. These adjustments include changes to the Facebook attribution window, which tracks subsequent actions taken from ads, and limits to the amount of events in Facebook Pixel, which will limit the data collected from actions taken on their websites.
Although the intention and impact of personalized ads are good, we know that there will likely be a lot of users that choose to opt out of this tracking. We know that this update will have a far-reaching impact but let’s explore:
- What this means for the consumer
- How to navigate these changes as a business
- How this will possibly impact the digital advertising industry moving forward
1. What does this mean for the consumer?
As a consumer, you probably have a lot of questions surrounding this news. To understand the impacts of this coming update, we have to start by looking at the purpose of tracking usage across apps.
Facebook, as with many other platforms, use these methods to help customize their user experience. Advertisements you are shown are selected for you based on what the platform knows about you, what you tend to like, and what you interact with online. Taking that a step further, advertisers will utilize this data to further track how you are interacting with ads after you have seen them, such as making a purchase on the advertiser’s website.
With the iOS 14 update, tracking methods like this will now be the ones in question for the consumer to opt in or out of. If you choose to opt out, this does not mean that you will no longer receive ads on Facebook or Instagram. It just means that the ads you do receive will not be based on the same tracking methods they were prior. It will also change how much information is shared with Facebook and the advertiser behind the campaign, such as the actions taken by a user on an ad.
2. How do you navigate this change as a business—big or small?
If you’re a business that often advertises with Facebook Ads, you may be wondering what this means for you and we have good news: Facebook has released some initial steps that businesses can take to help figure this out, some more technical than others.
- Verify your domain in your Facebook Business Manager. This is a crucial step given the nature of these changes and is something that should be done sooner rather than later since it could take a few days for the verification process to be completed. This step is especially important for those utilizing Facebook Pixel.
- Prioritize your events in Facebook Pixel. As part of this rollout, you will now only be able to have eight conversion events on your website. You can make these updates in Events Manager.
- Explore targeting Android users. Remember these changes are coming from Apple, so Android users are not going to be as impacted by this update. In Facebook ads, you can target device types, which may become a strategic way to adjust.
- Find ways to adapt to the changes in the attribution window. Facebook is shortening the attribution window from 28 days to 7 days. Finding a way to track the following days internally will be critical to navigating this update.
3. How will this possibly impact the digital advertising industry moving forward?
In the digital advertising space there are hundreds, if not thousands, of ways for marketing professionals to accomplish similar goals. Different platforms preferred, various techniques learned, updates in trends that sweep over the industry over time, etc. This makes the industry one that is riveting, but also difficult to predict.
The iOS 14 update is no different. How this will impact the industry in weeks, years, and decades to come is not something that can easily be forecasted today, but we do have some predictions of how things may pan out.
- Industry-standard practices and procedures will change to reflect the solutions that are proven to work.
- We may see a shift in ad spend to other platforms. We are predicting an even greater focus on influencer marketing and other direct-to-consumer tactics that rely more on individual partnerships and less on regulation from external sources.
- More marketing practices using internal resources for developing advertisements and tracking those return metrics.
- A move to paid apps versus free apps. A lot of strategies for free-to-use apps and websites rely on advertising dollars. Without as many advertisers spending on apps, some of them may choose to make up for that loss by charging users for the initial app download instead.
The Only Constant in Life (and Marketing) is Change
No matter what is to come in the digital marketing space, we know one thing for sure: Digital marketing and advertising is an ever-evolving industry that is no stranger to change. Industry professionals have proven to be adaptable, strategic, and enduring as a product of the nature of the industry, and that is something that will never change.
The iOS 14 update is nothing to be afraid of. Sure, things are going to change, but change often leads to progress. Whether we see long-term effects from this update or it’s just a blip in the long and fruitful industry that is digital advertising, we know that we will all adjust and continue to thrive.
Right now, there are more questions than answers, but don’t hesitate to reach out if you’re stuck or need help. We’re only an email away.