Guidance: iOS 14 Implications On Paid Social Programs.

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Executive Summary

New privacy measures from Apple will impact campaign measurement, optimization & reporting across advertising platforms.

The launch of new privacy features within Apple’s iOS 14 operating system has been a hot topic among the advertising industry, and in particular among advertisers that make substantial investments in Facebook, Instagram, and throughout the Google suite of advertising products. While all digital platforms are likely to be impacted in some way, Facebook has been quickest to respond to the iOS 14 update, and this POV focuses primarily on the implications on Facebook’s actions. Further insights on additional ad platforms may be provided in the future as more information becomes available.

So, what’s the big deal?

With the iOS 14 operating system update, Apple is introducing a variety of new features, but most notable is a mandatory consumer opt-in notification, where consumers using iOS 14 will be required to manually consent to tracking. Prior to the iOS 14 update, consent to tracking had been implied across many apps, websites and advertising platforms. It is expected that many consumers will choose not to opt-in to tracking, leading to reduced visibility in measurement, reporting and optimization capabilities for advertisers. 

Key takeaways are as follow:
  • On Facebook & Instagram, changes to default attribution settings and limitations in conversion tracking will result in under-reported conversions. In general, a larger portion of users opted out of tracking will result in smaller potential remarketing audience sizes, the extent to which will not be known until changes take hold. If you are an app-based business, this change may limit your capabilities in your attribution analysis for app installs and in-app behaviour.
Things are evolving quickly, but right now it is essential to: 
  1. Analyze your iOS conversions to understand the potential impact on volume
  2. Increase audience pools available for remarketing via additional site tagging
  3. Focus on expanding your CRM database
  4. Triple check campaign setup and UTM accuracy

As of right now, there has been limited response in terms of new features, measurement or potential tracking remedies from the major ad tech networks. It is expected that this will change and more resolutions will become available in the coming weeks and months. If changes are material, insights will be shared in subsequent Client POV’s.

Situational Overview 

A consumer opt-in notification may significantly limit audiences sizes & tracking visibility.

While 3rd party data tracking had already been limited in a previous iOS release, version 14 introduces a further opt-in requirement from consumers that is certain to introduce further tracking limitations. The opt-in notification is intended to allow the consumer more transparency and control when it comes to how publishers and advertisers can handle and manage their data, and at the same time, publishers and advertisers are required to clearly highlight what data is captured and what the purpose of this data collection is. 

This is a fundamental change in the standard of consent, where consent is no longer considered as implied. Consent will be required to be clearly explicit, with an expressed opt-in becoming a new standard for iOS 14 users. Needless to say, a disclaimer as pictured below is expected to generate many declines from users, ultimately limiting data collection and the resulting ability to deliver consumers highly targeted and relevant advertising. There have been no projections from Apple nor major publishers as to what the rate of opt-in may be, leaving this as one of the major remaining uncertainties.


Potential Impact 

Audience sizes, measurement & optimization capabilities will all be negatively impacted.

The impact on your paid social program and particularly its measurement, will make the majority of campaigns appear to be performing worse, which is why Facebook has been the primary opponent to this change. In this case, Facebook is almost all but certainly correct.

The data loss from these users will affect several aspects of what have come to be known as commonplace & efficacious marketing tactics. The most impactful will be the reduced ability to remarket to users based on their interaction with your digital properties (e.g. your brand-owned website), simply because users that have opted out of tracking will no longer be eligible to be remarketed to. More generally, the limitation in consent will also limit the ability to target consumers based on relevant targeting information that had otherwise previously been collected via implied consent.

Here is a high level list of the implications:
  • This change may significantly impact your capability to remarket to iOS users by reducing potential audience size.
  • As a potential result of reporting changes your ability to manage ad frequency against individual users may become more difficult. 
  • If you are an app-based business, this change may limit your capabilities in your attribution analysis for app installs and in-app behaviour.
  • Facebook is changing it’s attribution settings and removing the default 28-day click & 1-day view attribution model and replacing it with a 7-day click & 1 day view attribution model. This will result in limited visibility into conversions that occur 8+ days after a consumer has been exposed to or clicked an ad. Once the prompt is enforced, this will change to 7-day click only. Expect platform-reported CPA & ROAS numbers to appear worse.
  • Facebook is limiting the number of web and app conversions events it can report in a single session, and is forcing advertisers to prioritize their events. This means only the conversion event with the highest priority will be reported. This will result in lower priority conversion events being under-reported.

Our Perspective

While immediate performance may suffer, enhanced consumer privacy supports a more transparent, accountable and trustworthy advertising ecosystem – and that’s a good thing.

This move is one of many that make Apple a pioneer in the advertising industry. It is evident that while these changes are restrictive and have been criticized as swift and overbearing from Facebook & Google, Apple is making changes in a way that is meant to make material positive change for both consumer privacy, and advertiser responsibility. Users are clearly given a ‘more than moderate’ understanding of why these measures are being taken, and in what capacity. On the opposite side, the advertising industry will begin to be forced to innovate inside of these privacy enforcement trends, which are unlikely to stop given an increasing focus on consumer privacy around the world.

While it is difficult right now to quantify both the negative effect on advertising efficacy and the positive effect on consumer trust and transparency, there is one thing that is certain: the changes are happening. At Other.,  we believe in always playing offense. This means not waiting around to see what will happen, but actively advising our clientele on how to help shape the future of their programs through channel diversification, improved first-party data collection, and optimization best practices. 

These changes will make marketers’ lives a little harder from a targeting and attribution standpoint, but they will also help to ensure consumers are more aware of how their data is used. 


What do we do, right now?

The situation is rapidly evolving and new products are being rolled out by Facebook to mitigate the impact of the iOS 14 update. Additional ad tech companies, like Google, have just released their stance and potential actions to mitigate impact, however these recommendations remain vague and somewhat opaque. To be clear – there is no across-the-board ‘right’ answer on  exactly what to do.

At Other., we are working to develop customized recommendations for each and every client to ensure their business, objectives, and data collection practices have all been considered and contextualized. In the meantime, we recommend that you ask your advertising partners or in-house team to dig in on the following: 

  1. Report how many conversions have historically come from IOS. This will allow you to establish a baseline.
  2. Verify your domain in Facebook Business Manager. If there are multiple pixels on your site used by multiple Business Managers or Ad Accounts, only one Business Manager may verify the domain.
  3. For advertisers with website conversion events, prepare to operate with a limited number of events as you build out your tagging strategy. Advertisers will only have a maximum of 8 conversion events to optimize and report on. Select your most important 8 events, rank them in order of priority for reporting, and have these set up in the Facebook platform. 
  4. For advertisers promoting their mobile apps:
    1. Update to Facebook SDK 8.1 or higher
    2. App install campaigns targeting iOS devices will need to be recreated as an dedicated iOS app campaign. There will now be a limit of 9 iOS campaigns within the ad account, with a maximum of 5 ad sets in each campaign for each app.
    3. If you work with a Mobile Measurement Partner (MMP), please ensure to reach out to them to coordinate any updates that may be required.
  5. Enlarge your audience pool by tagging all available digital touchpoints. Tag better, but also tag more.
  6. Focus future strategic efforts on the enlargement of your CRM database through lead generation forms, downloadable content, quick event sign-up events and more.
  7. Triple check your campaign setup and trafficking processes – proper UTM coding will be essential for filling in potential data gaps.


What’s next?

 What’s coming up and when do we expect to hear more?

Major advertising platforms like Facebook, Google and LinkedIn are expected to release more actionable information in the coming weeks. Any material updates or required actions will be shared in an amended POV or via email.

The future of marketing is being forged today. Don’t get left behind.

From quickly switching partners to carefully assessing needs, we’ve been through many change scenarios and are ready to discuss your unique situation.