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Does Apple Hate Ads or Just Facebook Ads?

Apple’s iOS 14.5 App Tracking Permissions Now Live

It’s finally here. One of the first shots in Apple’s war on digital marketing, iOS 14.5, has dropped into devices worldwide.

Masked as the update that hands power back to the little guy, one of the biggest guys of all has decided to champion the individual over the mega-corporation.

Other mega-corporations that is, as Apple kickstarts its own ad business.

Financial Times, 21st April 2021

Apple will expand its advertising business, according to two people familiar with its plans, just as it brings in new privacy rules for iPhones that are likely to cripple the ads offered by its rivals, including Facebook.

The expansion is the first concrete sign that Apple plans to enhance its own advertising business at the same time as it shakes up the broader $350bn digital ads industry led by Facebook and Google.

Apple’s forthcoming software update, iOS 14.5, will ban apps and advertisers from collecting data about iPhone users without their explicit consent. Most users are expected to decline to be tracked, dealing a huge blow to how the mobile advertising industry works.”

Rascals.

How does the iOS 14.5 app tracking update impact marketers?

Apple’s iOS 14.5 update is now live and will have a significant impact on marketers moving forward.

The update allows web users to pull up their drawbridge and deny apps what had previously been their birthright – data collection.

Marketers that rely on third-party app data (most of us) will find their world changed as more people choose not to share their personal information with brands.

iOS 14.5 will make it easier than ever before for users to opt-out of apps collecting their data because users get a prompt asking whether or not they’d like their data to be collected. Previously, those worried about privacy could opt out, but they had to search for it.

The impact of this cannot be overstated since marketers use personal data for a whole host of things, including:

  • Precise marketing attribution
  • Precise targeting
  • Ad technology like audiences
  • Retargeting campaigns

All of that will get more difficult moving forward. However, could the update be a positive thing in some situations? Some people say yes.

They say yes because the uncumbent platforms will win big as these new restrictions only apply to third-party data, not first-party.

John Koetsier, Senior Contributor, Forbes

“In other words, while running an ad campaign on Facebook or Twitter or YouTube or Snapchat for app installs of your AmazingGame3 third-party app requires full IDFA permissions across Facebook and your game, ads on Facebook for conversions on-platform do not.

So Facebook — which has a huge amount of first-party data on virtually everyone online outside of China — can offer ads on Facebook using all of its targeting data without Apple restrictions.”

Let’s be clear, Apple’s latest changes reduce the effectiveness of Facebook ads over the short-to-medium term. However, almost every other channel is also impacted to varying levels.

While the loss of third-party data impacts Facebook, it still has a vast trove of first-party data to fall back on, whereas other channels will be lighter here. So, net-net, Facebook ads are down, but still up more than most.

There are still downsides. The most notable being that the privacy change should increase advertising costs.

With ad targeting prowess downgraded, click-through and engagement rates will stutter, due to mistargeting, leading to higher costs for marketers. Although, one would expect performance marketers to suffer more than brand builders here due to the variances in more niche targeting versus broad reach targeting.

As the social media marketing leader, Facebook has been highly vocal on the topic and proactive, introducing numerous new features and tools for marketers to get across over the coming weeks.

You can still track limited events on Facebook

For example, Facebook has come up with a new way to measure web events from iOS 14.5 users called Aggregated Web Events – but it will be limited to just eight conversion events per domain. Events that count towards the eight are:

  • Any standard pixel events (e.g. Add to Cart, Checkout Initiated, Purchase).
  • Custom conversions that use a standard event; for example, purchases that take place only on a specific URL.
  • Custom conversions using custom events.
  • Value sets with value optimisation.
  • Unique events set up using the Facebook Conversions API.

While the following don’t count toward that magic number:

  • Page view/landing page view.
  • URL-based Custom Conversion events; for example, using a thank you page with a unique URL as a conversion event.

As per Facebook, this is how you can set them up:

  1. Verify your domains.
  2. Configure events on the domain to be processed using the Aggregated Event Measurement protocol.
  3. Set up a conversion optimisation or value optimisation campaign in Ads Manager.
  4. Select a single domain for conversion tracking. To ensure that ads aren’t paused at enforcement, you may need to select a single domain in the Tracking section at the ad level of ad creation.

There are other reporting and evaluation impacts – for a more detailed rundown, head over to the Facebook blog.

It is worth noting, however, that these changes only impact iOS 14 users, not Android.

So increasingly, advertisers will look to split each audience out accordingly for certain levels of activity.

How these changes are being prepared for·        

Google says it’s working hard to comply with ATT and encourages app advertisers to get the new version of Google Analytics for Firebase.

LinkedIn warned users that LinkedIn Audience Network, Matched Audiences, Website Retargeting and Conversion Tracking would all be impacted by the new changes.

TikTok has encouraged app advertisers to create dedicated iOS 14.5 campaigns when using app install objective and committed itself to make changes to app campaign delivery. TikTok will also support SKAdNetwork reporting for iOS14.5 campaigns in Business Manager and Events Manager.

Snapchat didn’t say much but have released two prep guides that should help publishers to navigate the seas of change. Find them here.

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