When Apple announced they were releasing their iOS 14 update, it turned out there was a lot more in store than just personalised widgets on the home screen and more user-friendly FaceTime. Alongside some great updates to features for Apple users came the news of proposed changes to privacy settings.
It also gives Apple users the ability to see a summary of privacy practices before they download an app from the App Store; the new iOS update also allows users to choose an approximate, rather than exact, location when sharing location information.
Those changes have not caused as much of a stir as the most contentious change planned by Apple developers. The planned iOS update means that app developers will be forced to get a user’s permission before tracking them.
While there is a facility on older versions of iOS to turn off tracking, there is no mandatory notification to users. These new updates bring a physical pop-up notification informing users that the app they are using or are about to use would like permission to track you.
Once updated, iPhones will show a message like this: “(insert app name) would like permission to track you across apps and websites owned by other companies. Your data will be used to deliver personalized ads to you.” With this comes the option to “Allow Tracking” or “Ask App Not To Track.”
Screenshot from MacRumors coverage
Research shows that Limit Ad Tracking (LAT) percentages have significantly changed in the last few years. 4 years ago, only about 11% of Americans had turned on their Limit Ad Tracking options; that number increased to 31% in 2020. This growth is not solely in the US either. These studies also show almost 28% of iPhone users have turned ad personalisation off across a spread of countries, including the UK.
The changes mentioned above in customer behaviour are before the implementations of the new iOS 14 update, which will put a further dampener on things for advertisers. Let’s face it, this pop-up isn’t exactly worded in the advertisers’ favour, and it makes it even simpler for iOS users to turn their Identifiers for Advertisers (IDFA) off.
What do these iOS14 Changes Mean?
In the UK, smartphones, and tablets account for 51.08% of internet users. Break that down into smartphone usage, and iOS users accounted for 49.88% of the UK market in 2020. This means a large chunk of internet users could opt to switch off ad personalisation when the update goes live.
Mobile Internet Usage
iOS Vs Android
Facebook and Google’s targeted ads have become a thing of beauty for advertisers. The many filters and options give marketers the ability to fine-tune their ad content. More importantly, they can target these ads to very specific audiences increasing their CTR and conversions. In simple terms, advertisers can choose who sees their ads and how often.
While the truth is, iPhone users have always been able to enable LAT, many either weren’t aware or didn’t bother. This change, including the way it’s worded, could mean that many more users opt-out of IDFA. This will affect both targeting and re-targeting.
For users, this may have its benefits in terms of increased privacy. Many find it creepy how adverts seemingly appear when you think of something. For businesses, the impacts will be felt quickly. The ads that they pour their time, and let’s not forget money, into are likely not going to have the same effectiveness as they did previously.
Your target audience may see the ad, but then again, they may not. This will also affect the data you get back regarding ad effectiveness. For example, you can target an ad at 25-35-year-old men; but because of this lack of IDFA and the use of LAT – a percentage of those men will never see the ad, another portion who do see the ad will not be in the target age range. This means that they may ignore the ad, not because they aren’t interested per se but because the advert isn’t appropriate for them. This change to iOS14 may make it harder for advertisers to tell what the reasons are.
What can advertisers do about this update?
As of today, the portion of the update containing changes to ad tracking doesn’t appear to have been formally rolled out. However, Facebook and Google Ads have both released statements regarding how they will comply with the changes alongside some sound advice to advertisers.
Both companies advise ensuring that your SDK is updated to the latest version (7.64 for Google Mobile Ads and for Facebook SDK iOS 14 Version 8.1). Google offers further advice to prepare their partners in a blog written recently by their Group Product Manager.
Facebook suggests making sure your website’s domain is verified and that this domain verification is prioritised for those domains containing pixels that are utilised by multiple business or personal ad accounts. You can read more about Facebook’s take on this in their Business Help Centre article here.
Ultimately this update may prove to be a huge shift back in the individual’s favour for now. We are sure that companies like Facebook and Google will try to overcome the adversities faced with this new rollout by Apple. Their bottom line depends hugely on advertising revenue, after all. This power struggle over privacy and our data is far from over.