Apple’s upcoming iOS 14 privacy update and Google’s Privacy Sandbox are the latest examples of the evolving digital advertising ecosystem. Big data has dominated the digital advertising industry, but today the focus is on protecting user privacy. 

The Shift Towards Privacy-First Advertising

During our recent webinar, iOS 14 for Advertisers, Mason Interactive’s Founder and CEO, Brook Shepard, and Director of Media, Adrian Padron, explored Apple’s new privacy policy that is planned to roll out this Spring.  

“iOS 14 will be one of the most dramatic changes to the advertising industry”, Brook began the webinar. “It doesn’t have to have a negative impact on your ad campaigns, but to avoid disruption advertisers need to prepare now.”

We summarized the webinar highlights, including a walkthrough of how iOS 14 is going to impact Facebook and Instagram ad campaigns. 

How iOS 14 is Going to Impact the Digital Advertising Ecosystem 

Let’s start from the very basics of digital advertising. Have you ever felt like your phone is listening to your conversations? When an ad pops up on your screen from a brand you talked about with your friend just a few hours ago? Well, your phone is not listening to you. It all comes down to data. 

Digital advertising is a combination of psychographic (ie. interests, personality) and demographic data (ie. age, location) that is matched to occasions (ie. birthdays, holidays). “Demographic data is that I live in Brooklyn and psychographic data is that I like guitars. If my birthday was coming up, that would be the occasion for advertisers to serve me guitar ads”, Brook sets an example. 

Now how does an advertising giant like Facebook know all this about its users? Data sharing happens on the background of mobile apps, and data is collected every time you interact with apps on your phone. Whenever you sign up to a new app, you agree to the digital terms and conditions of the app that allows data sharing. Facebook has partnerships with several apps who pass the information from their apps to providers like Facebook to help build that cross-app profile of psychographic information. 

With the new iOS 14 update, apps must get a user’s permission to access their data through Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) prompt. When opening an app for the first time, users will see a pop-up prompt that allows them to revoke or grant tracking permissions. 

Unless the user opts in, Apple’s policy will prohibit the app to collect and share certain user data. And how does it impact your ad campaigns? Simply put, less data means less personalization and limited reporting. 

How Apple's App Tracking Transparency prompt will impact advertisers

New Attribution Changes Reporting

The ATT prompt will be the biggest focus for advertisers. Another new requirement from Apple is the data nutrition label that requires all apps in the Apple Store submit information about their app’s data collection practices. In addition, platforms will need to use a new framework that may restrict, aggregate, and delay event reporting. 

Facebook has already implemented some changes to its advertising platform to comply with the new privacy update. In January, Facebook changed its default attribution window from 28-day to a 7-day click and 1-day view attribution. As a result, reporting has changed, and some advertisers may have seen a decrease in the number of reported conversions on their Facebook and Instagram campaigns. However, this doesn’t mean that your performance is down. The same conversions are happening, but the platform is just reporting differently due to a shorter attribution window.

Limited Conversion Events

Apple’s new web attribution protocol, Private Click Measurement (PCM), will not support app-to-web conversion measurement or cross-domain measurement. Therefore, PCM will impact how customer journeys between devices and platforms are reported. 

Facebook has created Aggregated Event Measurement (AEM) protocol to allow for measurement of web events. AEM supports app-web attribution and helps app-to-browser conversion flow, but the number of conversion events reported will be limited. Previously, advertisers were able to optimize and report for unlimited conversion events. With AEM, advertisers can optimize and report for up to 8 events

Moreover, if the user opts out through Apple’s new ATT prompt, Facebook is allowed to receive information on only one event completed after the click. In a scenario where a customer clicks an ad to land on your website, adds items to a cart, and makes a purchase all in one session, only the higher prioritized event will be reported.

“It’s essential to configure your conversion events now.”

“It’s essential to configure your events now”, Adrian encourages. “Select conversion events that provide the most value to your business and organize them in order of priority so that Facebook can report accordingly”. 

Data delay will be another significant change when running Facebook and Instagram ad campaigns after the rollout. If you want to add or remove an event, or change the configuration, optimizing those ads and ad sets will be paused for 3 days. During this 3-day period, you cannot make any optimization changes such as budget alterations, pause underperforming creatives, or change bid rules. It will become crucial for advertisers to plan more diligently and in advance, especially leading up to big events such as Black Friday. 

Visual summary of the reporting and audience changes the new attribution will bring

What to do next to minimize disruption? 

Testing new marketing strategies and evolving existing practices will help advertisers meet their digital marketing goals when the new Apple iOS 14 privacy update rolls out. Brook and Adrian listed the recommended next steps for advertisers looking to prepare and optimize their advertising strategies to the upcoming changes. 

Rethink Success

Focus on your overall business goals. Build an omnichannel strategy that combines each channel into a holistic structure. This helps you provide a seamless user experience across all channels along the consumer journey.

Diversify Your Media Mix

Looking beyond the duopoly of Facebook and Google, content marketing and SEO will play a big role in a successful marketing strategy, alongside new channels such as programmatic and OTT advertising. 

Own Your Customer Data

When third-party data is out of the advertising equation, first-party data becomes more important than ever. Collect your customer data through loyalty programs, pop-ups, offer incentives, and SMS messages. This will help you create your own customer profiles that make your marketing more effective and efficient. 

iOS 14 and the move toward a privacy-driven digital advertising ecosystem doesn’t have to come at the cost of marketing results. Forward-thinking marketers will turn the upcoming changes into new opportunities, while using data responsibly. 

Schedule a free digital marketing consultation with our digital experts to explore new marketing opportunities and ways to future-proof your strategy.

Mira Valjakka

Author Mira Valjakka

Mira is a Director of Growth & Marketing at Mason Interactive. She's a big believer in content marketing, well-executed design, and marketing technologies that improve efficiencies.

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