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How will iOS 14 change the Digital Landscape?

In an ever-changing landscape, marketers and digital businesses alike are forced to adapt with the times as new opportunities arise and existing strategies become redundant.

Since starting my career 8 years ago at TheLADbible, the updates to iOS14 and the subsequent changes to ad platform attribution has been one of the most significant. As an example, in response to Apple releasing iOS 14, Facebook has changed its attribution window from 28days to 7days meaning that some advertisers have seen 50% drop in recorded sales, overnight.

The changes in attribution, not just for Facebook, but across numerous mainstream platforms will have a huge impact on advertising activity as it means there will be no way of tracking off-platform activity via third-party browser cookies. There will be no way of reaching consumers on a 1-1 basis across sites and apps if they don’t choose to opt in. This will make it very difficult for advertisers to target consumers on a personal level and even harder to measure the results of their marketing activity.

The fallout from this is that there will be no way of attributing purchases made on advertisers’ sites to the ads served across the platform and, as a result, the implementation of the iOS 14 iPhone operating system update is likely to have a substantial impact across the digital marketing network.

Apple has a framework known as App Tracking Transparency (ATT) and with the implementation of the new iOS system, app developers will have to notify users if they want to gather their information, otherwise known as their IDFA. IDFA is Apple’s Identifier for Advertisers and is a persistent ID used by mobile devices which run an Apple operating system.

Often used in tandem with cookies, the IDFA helps to create identity graphs for ad targeting through tracking behaviour. Moving forward, it will only be present if consumers opt-in to give their consent to the advertiser to use their data for advertising purposes.

This will create a massive change for advertisers who have previously served targeted ads to key audience groups through the use of IDAF’s. They will no longer be able to effectively target consumers on Apple devices or have any way of measuring results. If iOS advertisers don’t prepare or ensure they have the right tools in place, they will have to use generalised messages served to a non-specific audience which will likely result in fewer installs and a less effective experience.

How to prepare for these changes:

  • First off, assess how much affect the rollout of the iOS 14 system will have on your current marketing activity, and evaluate your strategies keeping in mind how reliant you are on in-app advertising.
  • As an advertiser/digital marketer, one of the best ways to prepare for these changes is to make sure you are maximising your capture of user information. As other ID’s disappear, capturing emails and phone numbers will be critical to targeting consumers.
  • Make a move towards Media mix modelling. As an analysis technique, it allows marketers to measure the impact of their marketing and advertising campaigns and allows marketers to hone their campaigns based on a variety of factors. It uses aggregate data and is therefore able to evaluate a wider range of channels, both traditional and digital. It will help you understand the true impact of your spend in different advertising channels.
  • Establish a new performance framework based on the new conversion window. Creating a performance matrix using existing data that measures both a 28-day and a 7-day window, you can calculate a ‘new normal’ as to what a ‘good’ Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) should be – post iOS14.
  • Understand your customer base better by using your first-party data to create in depth, contextual profiles. In doing so, you will be able to share these profiles with both app and web publishers. These publishers collect data themselves and can therefore target the relevant consumer groups.

Although it’s still early days, we have found that scaling horizontally, through multiple adverts at a lower daily spend, has been more consistent from a performance perspective while the Facebook algorithm begins to re-learn, as it has less data-points to work from.

The true impact of the impending launch of the iOS 14 system on digital marketing is yet to be felt, but it is worth getting your head around it if you want to ensure that you can keep your strategies in-line with the changes and build them around more reliable first-party data so that you can keep delivering personal and effective experiences which are specific to a segmented audience.


Tim Hyde

Having commenced his career in leading the Facebook strategy for Lad Bible, Tim Hyde boasts an impressive track record of helping businesses and brands scale online through effective social media marketing strategies. One of the industry’s leading social media gurus, Tim founded TWH Media in September 2017 and now works with large brands globally ranging from Adidas to Apple Music.

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