Key Contributors: Anna Otieno, Mitch Reinhart, Jason Rankin, Brandon Nelson, Kelsey Caesar, Katie Pisarek, Roberto Ortiz & Justin Hayashi
From the moment the iOS 14 update was announced, the mobile advertising space has felt a little tense.
One of the more difficult aspects of the iOS 14 rollout was industry-wide confusion. The impact of this new release lived behind a wall of uncertainty. For many, it simply added more complexity to an already complex marketing practice.
As marketers and media practitioners navigating these choppy waters, we all began to ask tough questions: What does this mean for channel acquisition strategies? How will go-to social channels respond? How will we track user behaviors if we can’t track user behaviors? What kind of impact will this have on campaign-driven revenue?
We knew going into the release of iOS 14 there was a lot of inherent risk for both mobile and web advertisers. Advertisers have scrambled to find ways to futureproof their media strategies, and media channels across a variety of formats have done the same.
Unfortunately, the release of iOS 14.5 didn’t make navigating the matter any less complicated. But take a deep breath. We got this, and we’re here to help you make sense of it all.
Back in June 2020, Apple unveiled its plan to release iOS 14. The goal of the release was to put mobile app data control back into the hands of iOS users. This was largely fueled by problematic uses of Apple’s Identifier for Advertisers or IDFA technology if you'll remember.
Simply put, IDFA allows in-app advertisers like Facebook to track user data at the device level — giving mobile advertising platforms in-depth data on virtually any user. This allowed advertisers to tailor ad delivery to users on Apple devices.
Up until the launch of iOS 14, mobile advertisers could access IDFA data by default. Several lawsuits, and sweeping State-level data and privacy laws later, iOS 14 arrived with an in-app prompt called AppTrackingTransparency (ATT), letting users completely opt-out of in-app tracking.
This is where things get complicated. The iOS 14 update represents a big win for data privacy but leaves mobile and web advertisers on shaky ground.
This brings us to the latest release of iOS 14.5. We’ve had a few weeks to digest its release on April 26th. What has changed? How will critical advertising channels be impacted? How will campaigns be managed and scaled?
There’s a lot to unpack, but we want to focus on two big ways iOS 14.5 impacts privacy and security for mobile advertisers.
App Tracking Transparency
As of the launch of iOS 14, users could easily opt-out of app tracking on an Apple device. Now, users can also opt-out of any third-party data tracking, including data broker providers like Intelius, ExactData, and CoreLogic to name a few. Any App Store-approved app must also get permission to share user information with data brokers.
App Store Data Transparency
To go a step further, app developers are now required to list the data they collect and track for ads when a new user opts into app tracking.
Delayed User Adoption
First off, the impact may not be all that immediate. For instance, iOS 14.5 is so laden with privacy and data protection that some consumers may hold off on downloading until all data bugs are addressed. These bugs are not insignificant. With more than 3 bugs currently reported, many users are not able to completely opt-out of ATT and run the risk of their data being shared with all their downloaded apps.
Brands May Need to Rethink Mobile Ad Targeting
There’s a misconception that this latest update means fewer ads in general. That’s not necessarily the case. What you will see are fewer personalized, targeted ads on both mobile and web ad platforms users who opt into ATT. Why? Audience personas rely on segmented reporting. This will push advertisers to reconsider how they understand consumers and test new ways of reaching their audience on impacted platforms.
The effects of this latest iOS update are far-reaching. Let’s take a look at two social channels that are already seeing sweeping changes to how data is reported, and what you can do to optimize your campaigns for success.
Key Reporting Changes
With the slow adoption from both apps and users to update to iOS 14.5, shifts in how ads are performing have been a little unpredictable. Looking at data for more than 100 clients, we’re seeing a mix of unpredictable results. For instance, most advertisers have seen very little impact with conversions and CPA on aggregate remaining flat week-over-week. Having said that, there are some exceptions, specifically app-centric businesses, that have seen an adverse impact on conversions and CPAs by as much as 30%.
Advertisers are beginning to take action on new predictive data coming from the Facebook Ads platform that basically helps predict opted-out iOS users utilizing 1-day attribution metrics. Additionally, attribution settings will default to a 7-day click-through for newly created campaigns. Overall, there has been little impact on overall spend and placement impressions so far. Still, there are critical steps you can take to future-proof your campaigns.
5 Ways to Optimize Facebook Campaigns Right Now
Data Collection and Reporting Changes
Much of Pinterest’s efforts to address data reporting issues from the latest iOS update have been centered around offloading their reliance on IDFA technology to collect audience data. For instance, they decided to stop collecting IDFAs altogether, and generally expect this to have a limited effect on their platform.
3 Ways to Optimize Your Pinterest Campaigns Right now
We know there’s still a lot to learn about the future impacts of this update. The good news is that we have a close eye on the ever-evolving cascade of iOS 14 updates. We’ve got your back.