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Posted by Brittany on February 16, 2021


Apple’s iOS 14 is making its way to the mass market as we type this. While this software update boasts loads of great new features like Siri updates and setting a default music player, one feature in particular, has got the marketing community buzzing.


What’s happening?

App Tracking Transparency is a new feature included in the update and it will require all apps to ask for user permission before tracking data and activity. This expands on the previous update, which lets you see what was being collected before you download an app.  


Didn’t this exist already?
As a consumer, you might have thought this kind of security was already a part of the mobile experience - but it is not. Version 14.5 does take security a step further, in that apps will have to provide information about their data collection practices. They will be required to ask users for permission to track them across apps and websites owned by other companies. 


Give me the details! 

According to Apple, tracking refers to the act of linking user or device data collected from your app with user or device data collected from other companies’ apps, websites, or offline properties for targeted advertising or advertising measurement purposes. Tracking also refers to sharing user or device data with data brokers. 


Examples of tracking include: 

  • Displaying targeted advertisements in your app based on user data collected from apps and websites owned by other companies. 
  • Sharing device location data or email lists with a data broker. 
  • Sharing a list of emails, advertising IDs, or other IDs with a third-party advertising network that uses that information to retarget those users in other developers’ apps or to find similar users. 
  • Placing a third-party SDK in your app that combines user data from your app with user data from other developers’ apps to target advertising or measure advertising efficiency, even if you don’t use the SDK for these purposes. For example, using an analytics SDK that repurposes the data it collects from your app to enable targeted advertising in other developers’ apps.


What does this mean for me?

This update will impact all businesses currently participating in digital marketing that utilizes data collection, location data, retargeting and beyond. Facebook ads, in particular, are expected to be hit especially hard. Facebook is not happy about this. They have alerted business users that these new privacy features could “significantly” impact their marketing effort, in addition to making public statements condemning Apple’s decision. These changes will limit Facebook’s ability to:  

  • Effectively deliver ads to people based on their engagement with your business  
  • Measure and report on conversations 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 15 and later 
  • Predict and optimize cost per action over time and efficiently allocate budgets 


What can we do?

  • Manage expectations - we just don't know the end result of this rollout and it will likely take some time to understand the depth of the impact. Until then, we recommend continuing campaigns with cautious optimism and increasing vigilance when it comes to monitoring.    
  • Most marketers already consider Facebook and other digital marketing tools as a tactic that makes up a complex digital marketing strategy. By continuing to look at our marketing efforts holistically, we avoid “putting all of our eggs in one basket.” This allows us to lean in the direction that works for us, tweak on the go, and not get too hung up on one thing in particular.  
  • When things change, a knee-jerk reaction is to retract until there is more certainty. While this is always an option when it comes to digital marketing - and that’s the beauty of it, it is worth noting that things are always changing in this space and if you don’t try, you will never really know.
  • When in doubt, consulting the experts is the safest bet in navigating tricky situations. By working with a full-service agency, you have the expertise of marketing professionals from a variety of backgrounds and expertise to consult with for your unique needs. 

Are you considering making changes to your digital marketing strategy because of iOS 14? Tell us about it by filling out the form below. 


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