Apple’s latest update iOS 14 has been causing waves in the digital marketing space. But what exactly is going to change, and how will it impact the future performance of your social media campaigns?


What’s the deal with iOS 14?

In June 2020, Apple announced a range of security and privacy updates that would be rolled out in iOS 14.

Under the new operating system, app developers would need to display the App Tracking Transparency (ATT) prompt, giving users the option to decline app tracking.

The new privacy feature would require apps to gain user permission before collecting and storing data for tracking purposes, giving users the ability to opt out of tracking on social media platforms.

While Android systems have always provided users with the option to decline app tracking, advertisers will now have less access to demographic information and behavioural data once the changes come into effect.

How will it impact social media advertising?

Social media enables advertisers to create and optimise campaigns for specific app or web-based conversion events – think enquiry form submissions, online purchases and so on.

Part of the reason why social media advertising (especially Facebook) is so powerful is because the algorithm uses tracking data to serve your ads to users who are most likely to convert.

There’s also a range of paid social features that are reliant on tracking data, including remarketing campaigns, interest targeting and Facebook lookalike audiences.

How does Facebook collect and use tracking data?

At the moment, businesses can enable the Facebook pixel to collect and share user data with the social media platform.

When a Facebook user visits a website with the pixel installed, the algorithm draws insights from their behaviour and groups them with other users based on their perceived interests.

For example, a user may be categorised as someone with an interest in beauty after visiting the websites of several online beauty retailers.

With an understanding of that user’s behaviour, Facebook will serve them ads that target an interest in beauty, regardless of whether that person has specified that interest on their profile.

What happens if a user opts out of tracking?

Opting out of behaviour tracking does not mean the user will no longer receive ads, only that the ads they are served will be less relevant to them.

For instance, let’s say a user is in the market for a new car and has been browsing online.

Once they opt out of tracking, they will no longer receive ads that are related to their prospective purchase.

If a dealership was advertising a promotional offer on social media, it would not be communicated to that user and they could potentially miss out on a great deal.

Another user could be shopping online and become distracted, leaving items in their cart without checking out.

If they have disabled app tracking, they may not be served with a remarketing message to remind them to complete their purchase.

How will your ads be affected?

There are two main changes most advertisers will likely experience.

  1. A decrease in the available audience pool for ad targeting.
  2. A decrease in the performance of any campaign designed to retarget users based on web activity.

What can you do to ensure your ads continue to perform?

Facebook have put together recommendations to help advertisers prepare for the roll-out of the new privacy feature.

Under their new Aggregate Event Measurement policy, they have put a series of actions together to help you ensure your ad account remains compliant.

As the policy only allows you to optimise ads for the highest value conversion event, it will help you to get the most out of your campaigns.

Despite a reduction in web-based retargeting, you can still capitalise on those who have engaged with your business on social media.

You can create custom audiences based on those who have recently interacted with your Facebook page or Instagram account.

While they may not have visited your website, these users have demonstrated an interest in your product or service and are still a valuable audience that should not be overlooked.

Once you’ve set up these custom audiences, you can then use them to create a lookalike pool of users to further expand your reach.

With a bit of nurturing and the correct messaging, you could find your next most valuable customer.

When is the change going to happen?

Since making the initial announcement, Apple launched iOS 14 in late 2020 without mandating the ATT prompt.

It is expected that it will come into effect in the coming months after app developers have had sufficient time to implement the new feature.

Prepare for the change today

Want to get on the front foot? We can work with you to create an effective paid social strategy, ensuring your campaigns continue to deliver results in the short and long term.

No matter whether you’re an existing or prospective client, get in contact with us today.

Becca Humphrey

Paid Media Specialist