February 11, 2021 inMarketing

How the next iOS 14 update will impact your ads and what you can do about it

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Apple gives users control over ad tracking but there are steps you can take now to minimize paid advertising disruptions.

iOS 14 delivered significant visual changes to our smartphones, but the most significant changes are being developed in the background, as Apple focuses on app privacy and activity tracking. The update, to be rolled out in iOS 14.5, centers on ad tracking and grants users more control over their data. The move has sparked a public debate between Apple and Facebook, with Facebook deeply concerned over how the update will impact ad targeting and tracking for the many small businesses that use its platform for marketing. Although detailed information about the update has been released by Apple, it is important to note that the extent of its impact on advertisers is yet to be seen.

What we do know about the iOS 14 update

Named the App Tracking Transparency policy (ATT), Apple has confirmed that users will be asked permission before apps can use their unique Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) for third party ad tracking. On the app side, developers will be required to ask permission to use certain information from other apps and websites for advertising purposes to comply with ATT.

The update will add a new prompt screen to the App Store with information about app privacy, tracking data, and linked data:

How changes to Apple's iOS 14 Update will impact your digital advertising

Apple Inc.

And an in-app permission prompt for opt-in for tracking:

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Apple is doing this to a) make users aware of what data an app will track before they install it, and b) to give the user the choice to opt-in to tracking when an app is installed.

How the update will impact advertisers

The update means that users have the choice to expressly give consent to track them and many anticipate that a significant number of users will opt out. In the absence of this information, paid advertising stands to suffer significant disruption, although the exact impact of the update will only become known after the rollout.

As expected, the update has prompted countless questions from advertisers and app developers that are only now becoming apparent.

How to prepare for changes: Facebook Ads users

Facebook has officially outlined the changes advertisers expect to see on their platform (summarized below). To try and minimize the impact of any data loss from the iOS 14 update, Facebook has created “Aggregated Event Measurement” which they have designed to “help you measure campaign performance in a way that is consistent with consumers’ decisions about their data.”

Below are the key changes Facebook Ads users can expect to see and how to prepare for them:

  • Conversions: Advertisers will be limited to eight conversion events per domain i.e. eight pixel-based events, or eight custom conversion events. No action is needed and this change will happen automatically, but it is important to plan for no more than eight conversion events.
  • Domain verification: Facebook is moving pixels over to domain-based ownership. If you use pixels, verify your domain with Facebook to minimize any disruption to your data. Verifying your domain is especially important if your pixel is managed by multiple parties.
  • Ads reporting: 28-day attribution of any kind will no longer be supported nor will 7-day view-through attribution. Historical data will only be available via the API. Prepare for view-through attribution data to disappear and download your historic data now for both windows plus 28-day clickthrough. If you use the 28-day window, compare 28-day and 7-day click conversions to see how your reported conversions may be impacted. Update any rules you use that are currently tied to 28-day attribution.
  • Targeting: as people stand to opt out of tracking after the iOS 14 update, the number of app connections and custom audiences for app and web activity will likely decrease. To account for this, broaden your audience to capture more potential customers.

How to prepare for changes: Google Ads users

With the upcoming changes to IDFA in the iOS 14 update, Google Ads has taken a different path to Facebook Ads and decided to switch to another Apple ad tracking tool: the SKAdNetwork. Google is currently pushing Apple to improve the SKAdNetwork, as it is considered less effective at enabling advertisers to track users.

Below are the key changes to expect in Google Ads and how to prepare for them:

  • Reduced conversion visibility: Google has announced that ATT will indeed “reduce visibility into key metrics that show how ads drive conversions (like app installs and sales) and will affect how advertisers value and bid on ad impressions.”
  • Upgrade to latest Google Analytics for Firebase: For advertisers using Google Ads, Google has recommended upgrading to the latest version of Google Analytics for Firebase to enable SKAdNetwork support.
  • Monitor campaigns and adjust bids accordingly: Advertisers using Google Ads on mobile devices should also monitor iOS campaign performance and delivery as the rollout takes effect and adjust their bids and budgets to achieve their goals where needed.

What else advertisers can do

It is really important to note that AAT is only going to be available to iOS 14.5 users and the opt-out rate is unknown. With this in mind, all advertisers need to monitor their data over the coming weeks to understand the impact of the update. Keep an eye on your iOS ad performance to prepare for the full update rollout and be ready to adjust your campaign if necessary.

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