Are you ready for the new iOS14 tracking policies?

Are you ready for the new iOS14 tracking policies?

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Are you ready for the new iOS14 tracking policies?

In June 2020, at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple’s introduced the latest version of its iOS operating system, iOS 14, together with product and policy changes that will affect data sharing across iOS. Among other changes, the update requires apps to ask users for permission to collect and share data using Apple’s device identifier. Released later on September 16th, its first consequences were expected to hit in the beginning of 2021. So right on schedule, if you used the Facebook Business platform recently we are sure you received the pop up about the new Apple Privacy Update. Long story short, that privacy option that until now was buried deep in your settings will turn into an unmissable popup when you open each and every app. The pop-up serves two functions:

  1. It’s a heads up for users, telling them the app is tracking their data for advertising purposes
  2. It gives users the option to opt out and block the app from tracking said data.


“Facebook would like permission to track you across apps and websites owned by other companies”. 

Quite discouraging, isn’t it? It’s not difficult to imagine what the majority of people will go for. And do not get us wrong, we are all for privacy and data protection! But what lots of people do not seem to fully understand is that this update will not cancel advertising, the ads are still going to be there, they are just going to be way less personalized. And what is the only thing more annoying than drowning in ads? Drowning in ads for products that you will never be interested in. Let’s say there’s a girl in her 20s who spends 80% of her Facebook time watching makeup tutorials. Right now she is receiving personalized ads from beauty brands, in a month she could be getting ads about fishing and a retirement home. So we believe opting out of having your data tracked is the easiest way to create a worse user experience on Instagram and Facebook, but still, 80% of people will be choosing to not grant permission to tracking. And we are not talking just about Facebook, of course. Think of TikTok, Pinterest, Youtube, everything that runs on third party cookies will have to deal with these limitations.

Some praised these changes, others have been panicking over them since the day they were announced. We can clearly see two opposite sides of this story. One on side, Apple, claiming these changes are necessary in order to give users the right to choose about their privacy. On the other side, Facebook, not clearly panicking over this update and taking the side of small business owners, expected to receive a dramatic drop in revenue, losing an estimated 50% of Audience Network revenue. It’s certainly not the first time these two came into conflict over privacy issues and we grew quite used to both of them openly criticizing each other’s policies, but let’s take a closer look at both points of view.

Apple: the way to go to earn the users’ trust

According to Apple, the “Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT)” (or how this new data privacy policy has been named), is meant to give back to users their right to privacy, to let them choose if they agree to be tracked across domain. In a twit, Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, wrote that nothing is actually going to change, that Facebook will still be able to keep doing exactly what they have been doing til now, at one condition: get the user’s permission first.

“Apps on the App Store are held to a high standard for privacy, security, and content because nothing is more important than maintaining users’ trust. Later this year, you’ll be required to provide information about some of your app’s data collection practices on your product page. And with iOS 14, iPadOS 14, and tvOS 14, you will need to ask users for their permission to track them across apps and websites owned by other companies.”

From some, these new updates are to be seen as a necessary, long overdue effort by Apple to help users get back their right to control their personal data, forcing businesses to gain more user permission and be more transparent regarding how that data is going to be collected and why. 

Facebook: an unfair move all about profit, not privacy

Facebook’s position is clear: personalized ads and user privacy can and should coexist, but this new update will limit advertising in a way that can only do harm to small businesses and free Internet. 

Not only has FB been trying to stand against Apple’s decision, they also started to actively speak up for small businesses. “Apple’s new iOS 14 policy will have a harmful impact on many small businesses that are struggling to stay afloat and on the free internet that we all rely on more than ever. They’re creating a policy that’s about profit, not privacy. They’re hurting small businesses and publishers who are already struggling in a pandemic. These changes will directly affect their ability to use their advertising budgets efficiently and effectively. Our studies show, without personalized ads powered by their own data, small businesses could see a cut of over 60% of website sales from ads.” 

Adding that Apple is not even playing by its own rules, since Apple’s own personalized ad platform isn’t subject to the new iOS 14 policy.  “They claim it’s about privacy, but it’s about profit.” 

Even though this erosion of personalization it’s going to “set personalized advertising back by 10 to 20 years”, according to Facebook, there is little that the social network can do about it. Not showing the popup would mean being removed from the app store, and that would result in a loss loss situation for both Facebook and the businesses advertising on it. 

What is going to happen in a nutshell:

The update will result in a decrease in ad performance and personalisation and an increase in cost per action. Basically, it will be way more difficult for you to: 

  • Deliver ads to people based on their engagement with your business
  • Measure and report on conversions from certain customers
  • Ensure that your ads are delivered to the most relevant audiences at the right frequency
  • Accurately attribute app installs to people using iOS 14 and later
  • Predict and optimise cost per action over time and efficiently allocate budgets

More specifically:

  • The size of Custom Audiences for both app and web activity will decrease as more people opt-out of tracking on iOS 14 devices. 
  • Ad creation, reporting, dynamic ads and targeting will be subjected to limitations. See them all here.
  • Your pixel may only track and optimize for a maximum of eight conversion events for each domain.
  • All other events will be made inactive for campaign optimization and reporting. 
  • Delivery and action breakdowns including age, gender, region, and placement will not be supported.
  • Attribution windows will be limited to a seven-day click and one-day view window.
  • 28-day click, 28-day view, and seven-day view conversion windows will not be supported.
  • Real-time reporting will no longer be supported.
  • Auction bidding is now the only available buying option.
  • Reach and frequency bidding will no longer be supported.

Source: Facebook for Business.

What you can and should do ASAP

  • Do not try to convince your users to opt in. Apple will not allow developers to encourage people to allow tracking, let alone implying the app will work only if they agree to it. 
  • For everyone’s sake, download your data. We told you before, the attribution window is getting smaller, so prepare for the view-through attribution data to disappear. Download your historic data for both windows (28-day and 7-day) and also 28-day clickthrough. 
  • If you use rules tied to the 28-day attribution, update them now 
  • If you didn’t do it already, verify your domain with Facebook as soon as possible, especially if you have pixels on your domain owned by more than one entity.
  • Facebook will initially configure the conversion events that they see as most relevant to your business based on your activity. All other events will be made inactive for campaign optimisation. 
  • Careful: Any ad sets that are optimizing for a pixel conversion event that is no longer active due to the eight-event limitation will be paused, so make sure you set up your eight conversion events to track the key points of your customers’ journey. 
  • If you can’t verify your domains or are currently using more than eight conversion events, you may need to consider changes to your campaign measurement strategy, and should consider optimising for upper funnel optimisations like Landing page views, that by the way aren’t subject to the eight conversion event per domain limitation.

Do you think Apple is finally taking responsibility for users’ privacy or are these moves are part of Apple’s strategy to expand their fees and services business at the expense of small businesses? We will keep following this matter closely and sharing with you our tips and thoughts. In the meantime, if you need help getting your business ready for these changes, drop us a line and we will share some of our best practices with you.  

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