At this point, it is difficult to avoid the conversation around privacy and what Apple is doing to protect their customers’ information. From TV ads and numerous articles online, everyone is hearing about how Apple is putting the control in the users’ hand to enable which apps are allowed to track users.
As an individual in everyday life, the iOS 14 update is probably welcomed with open arms. We are finally able to have control in a digital world that felt like we had none. Every site, app, click, and engagement is being captured by 3rd party companies, and not being able to see what is done with that data can be generally discomforting.
However, from a digital advertising standpoint, when this news was released, discomfort and fear were actually my first reaction. We have spent the last 10+ years developing our 1:1 targeting skills as digital marketers with the goal of segmenting each person (or group of people) in our targeting sets as individuals, attempting to match creative, targeting, and messaging to increase our click-through rates and conversion rates, all while giving the user an experience that matches their interest or where they are within their purchase cycle. Now, a lot of that will no longer exist. Before you pack your bags and look for a job outside of digital marketing, keep in mind that we have chosen to work in an industry that likes to keep us on our toes and will never stop challenging the norm.
What does this mean for marketers in the near term?
Although privacy updates for iOS 14 is just the first step in creating a more private experience for users, plenty more is coming, especially with the sunsetting of cookies in the near future.
One of the most affected platforms is one of the most popular social media channels, Facebook and Instagram. We have been preparing accounts for this update most of this year. Facebook is allowing users to still target and track on their pixels and in-platform targeting criteria, but there are steps that need to take place before being allowed to do so.
We have helped all our clients verify their domains, updated their conversion pixels, and categorize their top 8 conversion events so that the algorithm can still work…these are a mandatory requirement to continue running efficient campaigns. But there is more to come: Facebook/Instagram has also rolled out a new conversion API platform that will allow for conversions to still be reported on, but the flow of data for reporting and optimization will change.
Even with all the work that has gone into keeping things running, iOS 14 has still shown a large impact. No matter what workarounds or new verifications that are implemented in the platform, we are still dealing with the following challenges:
- Lost reach in our target audiences
- Attribution windows which have shrunk from 28 days to a max of 7 days:
- Conversion data which is now modeled for those who have opted out data sharing:
The impact of these changes has already been felt, particularly if advertisers have not taken the immediate steps recommended by Facebook. But what does the long-term look like, and how do we adapt?
For starters, we must look at alternative conversion solutions. Simply using platform conversions will not cut it anymore. Media Mix Modeling and Lift Studies are no longer nice to have add-ons to campaigns; they are going to be a must. Working with analytics teams (like our data science team at Brunner), these studies need to be thoroughly planned and analyzed to understand the impact of a campaign or channel truly.
Secondly, CRM systems become key as zero- and first-party data becomes extremely important for targeting and understanding what’s working and what’s not. We need to be creative in getting people to want to opt-in to allow tracking or share information with us and be strategic in how we use it.
iOS 14 is the first step in a privacy-focused digital world, but there is more coming soon. The best advice for advertisers is to start the conversation now to solve for solutions right in front of you while also thinking about the future. Connecting the dots of issues can help advertisers to envision what problem(s) will arrive in the future and what solutions will be needed.
If you’re new to this topic or are looking for more strategic solutions to these issues, contact us to speak to our team of experts focusing on privacy and the cookieless future.