Apple’s iOS14 Update: What it is, and What it Means for Marketers

Apple recently announced that, as part of the iOS 14 update, it will allow users to block the IDFA identifier at the app level, and require apps to present a prompt asking users for permission to collect and share their data.

A user's IDFA, short for "Identification For Advertisers,” is a unique identifier that helps advertisers track ad performance across apps and the web. The IDFA passes back information, including whether you installed an iOS app from a Facebook ad or made a purchase in an online web store.

Facebook has put out a campaign criticizing these changes, arguing that they negatively affect small businesses in particular. One major grievance is the impact on the Facebook Audience Network, and the platform announced early on that they expect the update to negatively affect app publishers that monetize content via Facebook advertising.

For advertisers, the limited cross-app information sharing would impair the ability to attribute in-app conversion events within Facebook, and could limit the size of custom audiences based on app or web activity. The scale of these shifts will largely depend on the opt-in rate of users who allow for their data to be shared. Advertisers running campaigns on Facebook (and related apps such as Instagram and Messenger) should take the steps recommended by Facebook to make the transition as seamless as possible, including setting up domain verification and Facebook SDK for iOS.

These updates from Apple, along with Google's shift to remove support for cookies in the Chrome browser, are all part of the ongoing trend towards providing greater privacy control for consumers. It is not yet clear how many users will opt in to sharing their IDFA with apps and advertisers, but a shift from opt-out to opt-in systems will incentivize advertisers and platforms to adopt more sustainable approaches to targeting and tracking.

How should marketing teams address these changes and the potential challenges that come with them? Advertisers should be prepared to make the most of their first party data from sources such as pixels or CRMs and test tactics such as contextual targeting to ensure efficient media spend without relying solely on personal identifiers. At SPM Group, beyond paid social, our media team is already utilizing a variety of targeting approaches that do not rely entirely on unique user IDs, especially due to the sensitivity of healthcare targeting. We will continue to work with our clients’ teams to ensure all of our digital tactics are compliant while meeting campaign goals in this ever-evolving digital landscape.

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