Earlier this year, Apple’s iOS 14.5 update launched, and with it, the previously announced changes to how user data is collected and used. We have addressed this topic in the previous article and mentioned what implications we expect it to bring in the digital marketer’s world. The last few weeks have shown us that the new iOS policy has impacted Facebook’s advertising system to a greater extent, but not solely. We noticed some fluctuations happening in the performance of UAC campaigns, especially the ones targeting iOS. Also, the efficiency and accuracy of Display campaigns that used affinity and similar-to targeting decreased. Although we have not yet found a perfect solution to tackle some of the performance issues, we want to share a little “checklist” for you to revise, which can hopefully help put the campaigns on the right track. 

What are the changes? 

To recap: Apple now requires apps like Facebook and Instagram to include a notification prompting users to opt-in to user tracking across outside sites. Previously, users had the option to opt out by going into their Settings and App Permissions.  

Through the use of IDFA – The Identifier for Advertisers – advertisers have been able to deliver personalized experiences to users by utilizing information about activity from other apps and companies to display targeted ads, restrict how often a certain user sees a specific ad, and more. 

The updates give users a more visible opportunity to block the use of IDFA, limiting the information returned to advertisers about their audience. 

How do iOS privacy changes affect digital marketers? 

Some experts estimate that iOS users who share their IDFA with apps could drop from 70% to as low as 5-10%. Many apps, most notably Facebook, rely on accessing behavior data that is tracked through IDFA to measure the efficacy of ad campaigns and to target audience segments effectively. 

As of now, it’s still hard to estimate the full effect of these updates. It will largely depend on how many users opt-out of IDFA tracking. Google warns that these iOS privacy changes will “reduce visibility into key metrics that show how ads drive conversions” and that this will potentially affect how ads are bid on. For advertisers, this could mean more expensive digital ad space – especially for UAC campaigns. 

What to do now? 

First, there’s no need to panic. While both social and SEA campaigns will need to be adapted, digital marketers are accustomed to a constantly changing landscape! 

Some things won’t change too much: most of Google’s ad revenue comes from search results pages. These ads are primarily driven by the keywords in the search, so it’s unlikely that recent iOS privacy changes will result in a drop in performance from Google Search Ads. 

Other areas within the Google Display Network, including Gmail, are more likely to be affected as Google will have less visibility into a users’ actions on outside sites. However, Google also gathers their own user information based on other signals coming from various surfaces and also Google searches, Google Analytics, and Gmail that will continue to aid in targeting. 

One notable area where accuracy is likely to be lower is UAC and Display. When you’re running ads in the Google Display Network, you might not expect to convert directly from those ads, but they keep you top of mind and eventually lead to conversion from another channel. If the performance of assisted metrics can no longer be measured accurately, other metrics, like CPC and CPM, will need to be used. 

Good practices to follow

The best piece of advice to give is to closely monitor the performance and the delivery of the campaigns, which might have gotten affected by the iOS tracking policy change. If necessary – you will have to adjust the budgets or targets to ensure you don’t miss your objectives. There are also a couple of additional actions you can take:

For Apps-focused campaigns:

  1. Try to consolidate to 8 or fewer iOS app install campaigns to maintain optimal performance.
  2. Implement SKAdnetwork by upgrading to the latest version of Google Analytics for Firebase.
  3. If you’re participating in Google’s beta for tROAS campaigns on iOS, the recommendation is to revert to tCPA bidding.

For Web-focused campaigns:

  1. Ensure you have implemented the first-party tag, like gTag.js or Google Tag Manager.
  2. Check to ensure that your website allows arbitrary URL parameters 
  3. Enable Audience Expansion or targeting expansion on Remarketing and Customer Match campaigns. 

For additional information on iOS 14, you can check out the official resources from Google:

  1. Web-focused Help Center article
  2. Apps-focused Help Center article 

Conclusion 

As mentioned, it appears that the recent iOS privacy changes will most affect social media advertising. For advertisers who rely on social media, now is the time to think about reallocating budgets to other channels and diversifying digital marketing strategies. 

Moving forward, the push for privacy in tech will continue to impact the world of digital advertising. Here at MONSOON, we have the expertise to help you navigate these changes as you build your online marketing strategy. Contact us to find out more. 

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