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How Updates in iOS 14 Affect Advertising/Marketing?

Updated: Apr 9, 2021

Apple's iOS 14 created a buzz in the market even before launching for not all right reasons. Customers, advertising agencies, and businesses all around the world were looking forward to the announcement of the new operating system, but the announcement didn’t come without some friction to advertisers.

What is the iOS 14 Privacy Update?

The major update in iOS 14 is about data tracking permissions that will make it more difficult for Facebook to collect tracking information from their users. The ATTF, which is Apple's app tracking transparency framework, has made these changes to strengthen the user’s control over their data usage and privacy. And giving customers that level of transparency is arguably more fair to the consumer; we all should be aware of which companies are tracking us after all.

However, the way this privacy opt-in is implemented in the updated iOS 14 version is that whenever you download a new app from the apple store, a popup appears on the screen to ask for data and activity tracking permissions. And if you don’t allow it, the app in question can’t access data to track you, which makes it more difficult for social media advertisers to specifically target different demographics with ads. So, to say the least, the updates in iOS 14 have caused immense frustration to companies such as Facebook that rely heavily on their iOS user base because most folks likely won’t choose to opt-in to tracking for a ‘better ad experience’.

How are Facebook Ads Getting Affected by Opt-In Advertising on Mobile?

Facebook Pixels is arguably the most affected aspect of Facebook’s in-app marketing tools. The way it works is when a Facebook user performs some activity on the app, say make a purchase, the location of that activity information to Facebook marketers. This helps Facebook gather highly-granular information about what content on a page, for example, the user is engaging with.

Unfortunately, Facebook relied on the use Pixels for their advertising products heavily before iOS 14. Marketers and businesses could add as many pixels on their pages as they wanted, but now, they can only put eight (assuming the user even opts-in to data collection). And that means a very significant reduction in data collection and therefore advertising products Facebook can sell to marketers

What Can Marketers Do to Replan their Facebook Ad Campaigns According to the Updates in iOS 14?

Marketing and technology companies are slowly moving away from targeted advertising that requires large amounts of invasive data from the user. For example, the cookie is disappearing from web browsing after Chrome recently announced that it would no longer support 3rd-party cookies (the traditional backbone of targeted advertising on web).

Here are a few simple steps you can follow to ensure you're minimally impacted by this change. First, marketers should set the 8 pixel events allowed for tracking within Facebook. Next, they should enable the conversion API. If you have a Shopify site, you’re in luck. Simply go to the Facebook app on Shopify, select data sources, and change the data sharing to "maximum" to enable conversion API. If you have a custom-built site or leverage a different platform, check out Facebook resources to enable conversion API.


Alas, the dollars that companies pour into advertising is likely not going to change in the future (even with more restrictive privacy policies by companies like Apple). Rather, we’re going to see other forms of advertising slowly start to become more popular than hyper-targeted privacy-ignoring advertising that has defined the first 20 years of the internet. Companies will focus more on knowing their customer, making genuine connections with them, and spending more time on other forms of advertising such as influencer marketing. So, this is yet another signal that marketers and companies trying to build their brand in general need to change their approaches away from relying on hyper-targeted advertising and move toward forms of more thoughtful advertising and marketing that makes a deeper connection with their audience.


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