Apple's iOS 14 Digital Marketing Armadgedon Draws Closer
In November 2014, Paper Magazine ran an interview and photoshoot with Kim Kardashian that claimed to break the internet.
Despite earning nearly 1% of all web browsing history in the US 24 hours after publishing the full story, Paper never came close to breaking it as completely as Apple has the potential to do for brands.
The changes included within iOS 14 are truly game-changing for marketers. The update has been designed to give users more control over their data, which is positive but does it in a way that will have severe ramifications for platforms that rely on collecting third party data.
While the exact release date remains somewhat of an internal secret, it is expected to rollout globally shortly.
Apple has set the cat amongst the pigeons
Previously users could always opt-out of data collection, say within Facebook, but they had to search for it. The iOS 14 update will prompt users to opt-in or opt-out for each app, along the lines of the image above.
Each permission that’s denied will present apps with a reduced ability to track user behaviour.
TikTok, Pinterest, Snapchat and the like will all feel the impact, but none more so than Facebook and the digital marketers that use the platform.
It’s safe to assume that there’ll be a drop-off in the number of people opt-in to data collection. Some analysts speak of potential dropouts of around 70% of Apple users. Resulting in a drastic change in which data marketers can use to target audiences – while reporting conversions and other stats will become trickier.
Marketers will see a negative change
Businesses, but particularly smaller ones, will find reaching the right audiences harder, while larger organisations will be impacted too. However, their budgets should get them out of hot water.
One of the main concerns revolves around relevance. The iOS changes won’t stop adverts from appearing, but it will make them a whole lot less targeted, which means your precious ad budget could be spent on people who are never going to be interested in your product.
Content creators could also suffer here. If the adverts that support them perform poorly, they will earn less money.
The iOS updates continue an Apple trend that’s reduced automated tracking since 2017 when it made changes to Safari that reduced the tracking of third-party cookies. It appears to be trying to position itself as a consumer-focused brand that treats privacy as something to be cherished, not abused.
Facebook is not amused
However, iOS 14’s changes have been met with some scepticism, especially given the power struggle between Apple and Facebook.
Facebook claim that Apple will materially benefit from these new changes, especially if content creators enable subscriptions or in-app purchases to combat decreasing ad revenue. If that’s the case, Apple would earn between 15-30% for each subscription or in-app purchase.
“It (the change) will force businesses to turn to subscriptions and other in-app payments for revenue, meaning Apple will profit and many free services will have to start charging or exit the market.”
Interestingly, Apple has exempted its own advertising business from these requirements. Make of that what you will.
Despite that strongly worded attack on the iOS 14 changes, Facebook says the longer-term changes will strengthen its position. Speaking on Clubhouse and reported by Business Insider, Mark Zuckerberg claimed Facebook would be better off eventually, even if small business and developers would suffer.
“Apple’s changes encourage more businesses to conduct commerce on our platforms, by making it harder for them to use their data in order to find the customers
“But… these changes are going to make it harder for small businesses and developers.”
Inevitably as Facebook, and the rest of the digital marketing universe, come to terms with iOS 14 and the changes it brings to everything from ad targeting to campaign optimisation and reporting, marketers would be wise to expect an onslaught of new product innovation.
Much like COVID sparked a feature glut in 2020, iOS 14 has the potential to catalyse a similar reaction through 2021.
The short term brings changes to things like Facebook Pixel, Business Manager, etc. However, as the dust settles, one should expect a flurry of new features and tools as the major players work harder to keep and convert audiences on-site through the latter part of this year.
Think substantial ramp-ups of things like Instagram and Facebook Shopping, a sizeable expansion of Seach engine-level functionality and Google My Business, along with more enterprise lead generation coming into LinkedIn.
All in all, while the short term disruption could be painful for many, the medium-term offers reason to be more optimistic.