How Apple iOS 14 Release May Affect Your Ads and Reporting
Unbeknownst to most people, giant tech companies Apple and Facebook have had an implicit but long-standing competition for about a decade now. Unsurprising as it may seem — since many companies operating in the same industry do engage in some form of rivalry — a lot of people were under the impression that this was similar to friendly banter. However, the latest update for the Apple iOS 14 appears to indicate that the competition between these two monoliths might not be so friendly at all.
Released on April 26 this year, the Apple iOS 14 update came with a feature that has affected, in essence, Facebook’s entire business model. The App Tracking Transparency, which involves Apple Facebook privacy settings, gives iPhone users the choice to opt-out of being tracked by apps, which includes Facebook. In the past, disabling tracking necessitated going to your phone’s settings and manually disabling this feature, which many people are likely unaware of. However, with App Tracking Transparency, a prompt will pop up on the screen to ask users whether or not they will allow apps to track them.
For the majority of the internet population, this seems like a good thing — after all, nobody likes the idea that they’re being watched, or that their digital activities are being monitored. However, for advertisers and small businesses, this seemingly routine software update can significantly affect how their ad campaigns work, as well as how they can track results from these campaigns to fine-tune future advertisements.
Apple Against Facebook
To understand how the App Tracking Transparency update affects Facebook as a whole, it is important to note that Facebook’s business model operates largely on tracking users across the internet to feed them with targeted ads, which intends to provide them with a more personalized advertising experience. For instance, if you browse for video games using Google, it’s more than likely that you will encounter on your Facebook feed ads or sponsored posts that are related to gaming, such as high-end gaming equipment or websites like IGN that post video game-related content. By tracking your browsing history and digital activities across other apps, Facebook knows that you like video games so it will show you ads related to this particular niche.
However, with App Tracking Transparency, you can opt-out of being tracked by Facebook and other apps, which means that advertisers will have no means to gather information that can deliver targeted ads to your feed.
With the iOS 14 update, Apple emphasizes its intent to keep user privacy by releasing the App Tracking Transparency feature and giving users a choice. However, Facebook argues that the update will affect many small businesses since they rely heavily on targeted advertising to get the word out for their business. In fact, many small businesses claim that targeted advertising has actually helped them weather the COVID-19 pandemic, with some speaking up about Apple’s update and how it can have a negative impact on their operations.
Be that as it may, Apple has already rolled out the feature, prompting Facebook to make adjustments to their advertising and measurement protocols since ad personalization and performance reporting will be limited as more people on iOS 14 devices opt-out of tracking.
To answer Apple’s App Tracking Transparency feature, Facebook, in turn, rolled out the Aggregated Event Measurement, which promises to preserve user privacy while helping businesses run effective ad campaigns. In a nutshell, the Aggregated Event Measurement lets businesses pick up to eight events that they want to track using Facebook ads. Data received from these events can then be used for targeting, optimizing, and measuring ad campaigns.
Advertisers can prepare for the Apple iOS 14 changes by verifying their domain in Facebook’s Business Manager and configuring the most valuable conversion events for their business. Since Business Manager is integrated with the Aggregated Event Measurement dashboard, businesses can rank which conversion events have a high priority when it comes to tracking purposes.
Additionally, when picking which conversion events to prioritize, consider all funnels that can allow you to track and optimize towards mid-funnel and upper-funnels events, which can serve as key elements in your long-term digital marketing strategy. Optimizing for view content and purchase are also two ways you can gauge which conversion events you should prioritize.
Should You Be Concerned?
As a regular consumer and an individual user of both Apple and Facebook, the App Tracking Transparency feature for the Apple iOS 14 doesn’t seem to cause any negative changes on how you experience browsing the app or using the phone. If you opt-out of tracking, you will likely see little to no ads, which, for most people, means having an improved experience.
For advertisers, however, the App Tracking Transparency feature from Apple and the subsequent Aggregated Event Measurement from Facebook can potentially change the landscape in which they operate.
Whatever category you fall into, it pays to read up more about these changes so you can set your expectations and adjust to the ever-evolving digital sphere that has become a mainstay in everyone’s lives.