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Apple’s iOS 14 Update Explained

What do they mean for you?

Digital, News

19th July 2021


You’ve probably heard about the recent iOS 14 update and it’s changes to user privacy settings. But do you understand how this will affect your digital campaigns? With stricter data tracking permissions threatening the efficacy of Facebook ads – and roughly 50% of British consumers using iPhone (according to – this latest update is worrying marketers.

We break down the changes, explain how they may affect your campaigns and – crucially – what you can do about it.

The iOS 14 update’s most notable changes are to its privacy and data sharing policies: basically, Apple wants to give users a more transparent choice to protect their privacy and information. Which, when we take our marketer hats off for a minute, has to be a good thing, right?

So now, when you download an app from the App Store, you’ll see a pop-up asking if you want to grant the app permission to track your activity across apps and websites owned by other companies. You can choose to either allow tracking or ask the app not to track.

If customers select “no”, Facebook won’t be able to properly measure the efficacy of ad campaigns and build detailed audiences because it won’t have access to this user behavior data.

What does that mean?

You probably know that, as well as knowing everything from your cat’s name to your bra size, Facebook can also track users’ activity on other websites and apps. This is done with the Facebook pixel: when people visit your website and do things like make a booking, view a menu, or click to call you, the Facebook pixel records this information and puts it in your advertising account – digital whizzes like Ignite then use this data for campaign optimisation and reporting.

Campaign performance is hugely dependent on the data shared by pixels as it allows us to understand which ads are delivering results and which are not. Remarketing audiences also rely on this data: if people choose not to be tracked by Facebook, they can’t be added to your audience library.

Remarketing audiences are always one of the most effective ways to target people, so a smaller pool here is a cause for concern.

Advertisers also use this data to personalise ads to specific users. Without it, ads will be less personalized and therefore, logically, less effective, since we know that personalisation has a huge impact on efficacy. This could then lead to fewer conversions generated by Facebook ads.

OK so it all sounds very bad so far. What can we do about this? There are a few things we can do to minimise the impact.

  • Verify your domain to configure Aggregated Event Measurement

Sounds techy, but it basically means that you can still track actions on your website, albeit aggregated ones. This is new best practise so do it.

  •  Prioritise your events

Use the Aggregated Event Measurement tool to set up the ‘events’ (website actions) that you want to track and prioritise them. Facebook can now only track up to 8 events, (there was no limit previously) so we now need to choose those 8 events carefully and rank them in strict priority; when a user completes two or more actions, only the higher-priority event will get reported.

  • Enable Conversions API

Facebook is introducing other solutions to track user behaviour, with one of the most important being the Conversions API. According to Facebook, “Conversions API is a Facebook Business tool that lets you share key web and offline events, or customer actions, directly from your server to Facebook’s. Conversions API works with your Facebook pixel to help improve the performance and measurement of your Facebook ad campaigns.” When using Conversions API it is possible to record additional insights into the people who interact with your business.

  • A/B Tests

In order to understand the impact of these changes on your advertising campaigns, you can run an A/B test, comparing the performance of Apple users versus Android users. In fact, it is possible to deliver ads to users based on the operating system they have on their phone. The test should give you a good indication of how much data you are losing on your Apple customers. If you’re a ninja with a pivot table you could always extrapolate out your Android data to your Apple campaigns to account for any data differences.

  • Statistical Modeling

…and if you’re not, Facebook is introducing statistical modeling to account for conversions from iOS 14 users, so reports may now include estimates alongside actual results. 

Essentially, advertisers should expect some loss of data and a decrease in reported conversion performance as a result of these changes. This doesn’t mean that people will interact with your ads less or that your ads will generate less awareness, or be less effective in communicating messages about your brand.

Apple’s iOS 14.5 privacy update is transforming the digital advertising landscape, but Facebook ads remain a powerful tool to build your brand.

Still confused? Get in touch with us to speak to a digital expert about your campaigns.

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