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Apple’s iOS 14.5 Updates – What Marketers Need to Know

Published: April 26, 2021

Author: Natalie Aller


With the official public release of iOS 14.5 this week, Apple is taking a big step forward as it relates to privacy and consumer data. The company, which has previously stated that privacy is a fundamental human right, is now proactively offering users the option to reject the Identifier for Advertisers (more commonly known by its acronym IDFA) going forward. This means that iOS apps are now required to ask users for their permission to collect and distribute their data – similar to how iOS 13 gave users pop-up notifications on how apps track their location. IDFA has been used extensively over the last several years to identify consumers on their personal devices and track the effectiveness of the ads that brands are serving them.

With this move, Apple joins major ad industry players like Google in the push to offer more protection and privacy to consumers when it comes to how their personal data is used. Historically, Apple device users have been able to disable tracking and measurement on iOS products. However, the option to do so was hidden deep within the setting menu and is rarely top of mind for the majority of consumers. This shift by Apple changes that, and will now present the choice front and center for users when they download a new app or reopen an existing one.

So What?

We at 3Q Digital anticipate that this move will have a major impact across the advertising industry. Right now, opt-out rates are hovering around the 20-30% range. But with these changes, we expect that number may skyrocket to 80% or higher. That increase, combined with the ubiquity of iOS devices, will significantly impact how brands approach their advertising strategies going forward.

As a business that takes pride in staying on the leading edge of our industry, we are no stranger to embracing change. In truth, giving consumers control over how their personal data is used should have really been the industry standard from the very beginning. We’re confident that in the end, advancements like this will create a more positive internet experience for everyone. Not just consumers, but for brands and ad platforms as well.

Connecting Through Trust

Over the years, the ad industry has been collecting and using consumer data in an effort to make it easier for brands to reach their target audiences more efficiently. But along the way, a divide started to form. What began as a minor crack in the ground has now grown into a wide ravine. While digital advancements have made it easier than ever before to reach people, it has also never been more difficult to actually connect with them.

By taking a step back and looking at this new situation with an open mind and unbiased perspective, you will suddenly realize that it presents a wonderful opportunity for brands to reevaluate and recommit to the relationships with their consumers.

Adapting and Growing

There’s no question that this is going to be challenging at first, and ad effectiveness will more than likely take a hit for some performance advertisers. However, there’s always a path forward, and this situation is no different. We’ve outlined a few steps you can take to adapt to these changes from Apple.

Educate Consumers

Advertisers and platforms should make it a priority to educate users on how their data will be used to provide them with better experiences. By being open and honest, brands can begin to build more trust with consumers and show that their data isn’t being used in nefarious ways.

Clean Up Your Data!

The reality is, most brands out there have done a very poor job managing their first-party data and CRMs. And that’s not surprising, because they could always rely on other options, like third-party cookies. Businesses that can measure and track the correct information from their customers and keep that data organized, clean, and actionable will be in a much better position to grow customer loyalty and increase repeat business.

Understand Your Impact Level

Not all brands or advertising campaigns are going to be impacted in the same way by these privacy changes. For instance, ad campaigns that do well on broad targeting – which many do – will be less impacted by these privacy changes. And from a measurement perspective, the advertisers that optimize for a high volume, in-app event within the first day of an install will be less impacted by these privacy changes. Brands should measure their historical web conversion rates and install to in-app conversion rates (prior to IDFA opt-in) so they can benchmark how these privacy changes have impacted specific programs.

Embracing a “Restricted, Aggregated, and Delayed” Mindset

Borrowing an acronym from Facebook, “Restricted, Aggregated, and Delayed” (RAD) describes the new ways in which we can expect to receive our advertising data. But while many advertisers may take a negative mindset with these changes and the decrease in user-level data, we believe the winning attitude is to embrace the future of RAD data. Think about your business, your marketing KPIs, and how customers engage in your product. In a world where ad tech data is now RAD, how do you evolve your strategy? Below are a few scenarios many brands will face in this new environment, along with our recommendations on how to respond.

The implication of restricted data: The complete picture of every action that every single customer does on your website or in your app may be going away.

What you can do about it:

  • Identify value signals that already exist, or that you can create, for customers to trigger within the first 24 hours of visiting your website or app.
  • Optimize your website or app to encourage a quicker micro-conversion or a better customer experience so you don’t have to rely on re-targeting/re-engagement campaigns to push your customers through to the final conversion.

The implication of aggregated data: Ad platform algorithms are losing user-level “buying signals,” which will impact the effectiveness of lookalike modeling and user targeting.

What you can do about it:

  • Build a testing roadmap into your campaign plan. Start testing broader and contextual audiences.
  • Dig up your customer research and use what you know to lean into creative and lean away from your reliance on user-level signal based ad algorithms.
  • Identify opportunities for automation, and consolidate campaigns and audiences for data density.

The implication of delayed data: Exact time stamps are being removed from conversion data.

What you can do about it:

  • Assess your current reporting and optimization schedule. For each ad platform and device type, understand the expected conversion delays (from SKAdNetwork, for example) and build new habits and processes that factor in how long to wait until reviewing and assessing performance.

We at 3Q Digital applaud Apple for taking this major step forward as it relates to consumer rights and data privacy. Our team of experts is here to help you adapt to and navigate this new environment so you can maximize your digital marketing spend and gain an edge on the competition – click here to learn more about how we can help.

By Natalie Aller and Jessica Guedes

25 E Washington Street
Suite 420

Chicago, IL 60602

(650) 539-4124

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