Some additional information in one line
Beckie Brown
Beckie BrownBeckie drives all things search, display, social, video and more.
In June 2020, Apple announced an upcoming change to their (at the time) new iOS14 iPhone and iPad operating system that will impact the data sent to apps such as Facebook and Instagram. Apple would prompt users on whether they were willing to allow the app developer to track their personal usage of the app via their ‘AppTrackingTransparency’ (ATT) framework.
We outline what's happening, why, and what the overall impact is likely to be, but crucially what actions you should take to safeguard yourselves from being impacted. All information accurate as of 5th February 2021. 

What's going on? 

The update from Apple is ostensibly to protect users’ privacy. However, Apple is a for-profit business that is potentially looking to monetise a new opportunity. iOS14 has now rolled out and the impact of ATT on businesses and advertisers will be felt once a large number of Apple users either upgrade their operating system on their iPhone or iPad, or have bought new devices with the new operating system. It is expected that apps will be able to measure the impact towards the middle of 2021.

What’s the overall impact going to be?

As of now, the impact is not completely known and isn’t expected to have a significant impact until such time as:

  • There are enough users on iOS114
  • There is quantifiable data on how many people accept/reject the apps from tracking them
  • The impact on the apps’ ability to deliver a personalised experience and advertising, if relevant; for example if an app relies on collecting user data to serve in-app or email based personalisation, or ads, this could cripple core monetisation opportunities which ‘free’ apps and games rely on.

What’s the impact on Facebook advertisers?

Currently, we don’t know the full extent but some of the possible impacts being discussed (and in some cases confirmed) are:

  • Events will be limited to 8 per account but we understand at some point Facebook will release a feature that allows you to prioritise those events
  • Some reduction in size of custom audiences as users who opt out of tracking disappear from these audiences
  • Some/total loss of breakdown of demographics for reported conversions (Facebook yet to release full info on this)
  • Facebook have confirmed that if a user opts out of tracking on iOS14 then Facebook will aggregate all data collected from them following any in-app activity all the way through to your website. So whilst your website will still receive data, as per the 8 conversions limit, if a user opts out of tracking on iOS14, you will only be able to report one conversion that they’ve completed.
  • This update from Apple impacts ALL apps, not just Facebook, so this includes Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest, Snapchat, Amazon (including Twitch), Twitter and any other app that relies on collecting user data in order to build advertising and/or personalisation services.

Are all advertisers equally impacted?

The update impacts mobile app advertisers far more than non-app advertisers with sweeping changes coming in to restrict the data they can see, however the full impact on advertisers beyond apps is not yet completely clear.

Is organic social marketing impacted?

This could impact organic performance, since the newsfeed relies on signals from users (whether in apps or websites when browsing Facebook, Instagram or using Messenger) in order to see who you interact with, the items you’re interested in, groups and pages you visit and more. The opinion of the industry is that this impact would likely be felt over a much longer period but further guidance from Facebook is hoped for.

What actions can/should we take?

There are some things that Facebook are putting in place now and recommending we take note of and there are items we will be implementing and sharing soon to ensure our partners create new opportunities for the path ahead:

  • Be prepared to potentially receive less accurate data from Facebook than ever before - to what extent will be revealed later in 2021
  • We’ve been fortunate with Facebook and having access to so much data. Now’s the time to ensure we are executing well thought-out marketing campaigns and multi-channel strategies (i.e. beyond just Facebook/Instagram)
  • We have already begun the process of verifying website domains in Facebook accounts, allowing control over those 8 events but also as an added layer of account security
  • In conjunction with preparing for a ‘cookie-less’ world, focus on collecting good quality 1st party data as a business priority
  • Test and learn with targeting options whilst they remain more widely available, to better understand performance, before a wider rollout of the update
  • Continue to ensure growth and focus on Customer Lifetime Value alongside loyalty and referral
  • Expand into and test new marketing channels
  • If you work with us, other elements we’ll be looking at and will be in touch about in due course, include; server-side tracking and tag management, switching from Facebook’s 3rd party tracking to 1st party (if right for your business), installing the conversions API.

If you have any questions or queries into how the iOS14 changes will impact your social media marketing, please get in touch

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