In the world of digital advertising, staying up to date with the latest changes, best practices, and legal requirements is an absolute must. It is a field of constant refinement, where even the most dedicated experts need to stay aware and educated.

Recently, Apple’s operating system for mobile devices, iOS, received an update that changed the way developers and applications can use customer information. This seems simple enough on the surface, but some of the minute details buried in the terms and conditions have big implications for the future of digital advertising.

 

What Has Changed In iOS 14?

It’s no secret that laws and regulations regarding technology can often lag behind in a lot of important ways. After all, the same speed at which technology changes – one of the reasons we love it and find it useful – makes it difficult to anticipate all the possible applications of it that may arise. And almost nowhere is this more apparent than in the area of data collection and use.

We all have heard jokes about how “Facebook is always watching” or “Alexa is always listening” – but recently, the sometimes-reckless distribution of protected data has become a major topic of interest and debate among not only lawmakers, but among the companies that can be held ultimately responsible for breaches. Apple, which has one of the world’s largest app stores with nearly 2 million offerings – and hosts unimaginable amounts of customer data that each app has varying access to – has tried to address this in the latest update to their OS. They have created a new policy that app developers must ask users for specific, informed permission to collect and share information.

While this can be considered a win for those who want to keep their information private, it is a big blow to the abilities of advertisers, marketers, and other data analysts who deal with segmented audiences every day. Plainly put, it means that a huge swath of potential customers – about 200 million in North America – might go from prime marketing targets to data dead ends.

Screenshot of app privacy in iOS 14

iOS 14 has new settings to limit how apps and websites track you. (from WIRED)

 

What This Means For Marketers

A big part of modern marketing is the ability to track “events” – that is, certain behaviours that consumers do that trigger a marker in the backend of a website or software. Events can be watching a video halfway through, clicking on a “See More” link, sharing a Facebook post with a friend, or many other actions. The key is that the action shows an interest in that content, and by engaging, you are now part of a “warm” audience that is more receptive to additional touchpoints in the future. Data packets, called cookies, are part of what makes it possible to personalize those experiences and show relevant content to the right audiences.

The iOS 14 updates complicate this setup immensely for marketers who target Apple users, because many will opt out of having this information tracked. In Google’s own words, they claim that:

 

“Advertisers may not be able to effectively count conversions for iOS users who’ve opted out, harming advertisers’ ability to understand the value that ads are driving for their business. They also won’t be able to target or exclude ads to opted-out individuals based on website or app engagement, causing those people to see ads that are potentially less relevant for them.”

 

 

What You Can Do To Prepare

While much of the recommended actions dive deep into the technical details of your site, digital capabilities, and software – which require specialized skills and knowledge – there are some actions that can ultimately help mitigate the worst effects. These range from relatively simple processes like ensuring your website domains are verified (which assists with Pixel tracking for digital campaigns on Facebook and Instagram) and changing your audience targeting parameters, to much more complex ones like learning a new software development kit (SDK). If you are not the technological type, this can be a daunting task with a very steep learning curve. You may want to bring in digital strategists and data analysts to help the process along.

If you want to ensure your digital campaigns will perform their best, and that you can still access the useful data you need to succeed, consider bringing in professionals who can guide you through all the jargon, details, and step-by-step procedures. If you need a team with a proven ability to perform data analysis and strong digital strategies, contact us today to see what we can do for you. From basic copywriting and social media analytics to website audits and highly specific, multi-platform campaigns, our collaborative and comprehensive teams will make sure that your brand stands out everywhere you go. And that’s something no iOS update can change.