iOS 14 Ads

Guide on ios 14s effect on ads with typing hands and business icon, in muted tones.

Do any of your clients use iPhones (or any other Apple product)? The answer is most likely yes. Due to the large number of iPhone users today, you should be aware of the new iOS 14 update and how it affects your firm’s marketing (because it does!)

To give you a quick recap: the iOS14 update is currently changing the entire marketing game. Primarily for a big player today: Facebook. The update relates to data privacy from the users’ side. Now Apple gives users the option to opt-out of sharing their tracking information with other third parties like Facebook.

The latter is an essential platform for all industries, law firms included. There are thousands of statistics that can prove this point. But one, in particular, stands out: Facebook has 2.74 billion monthly active users. Additionally, it’s the third most visited website after Google and YouTube. Today, many leverage Facebook to target and reach possible clients through advertising campaigns.

Now, let’s revisit the update. It’s causing quite the commotion, especially amongst advertisers and marketers using Facebook. Let’s dive into everything your firm needs to know about the new update. 

The iOS 14 Privacy Update Explained

Ios 14 privacy features

We briefly scratched the surface with what the new update is about. Now, let’s dig deeper. Users are increasingly opting out of something called IDFA. The Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) is a random identification assigned by Apple to every user device. This identification helps businesses identify the users’ behavior without revealing personal information. IDFA was the means in which marketers were able to accurately track iOS users for the longest time. Today, this has changed.

Apple heard its users’ concerns when it came to data privacy. Consumers want a better user experience that requires data on the part of the companies to do so. However, 67% of internet users worldwide are more concerned with their online privacy than they’ve ever been. What’s more, 81% of users in the US believe their personal information is vulnerable to hackers. As a fruit of these concerns, iOS 14 was born.

With iOS14 users can activate an option called LAT, limit ad tracking. This means users who opt out of tracking show up as blank data for marketers. Roughly 20% of iOS users cannot be tracked with IDFA because they enabled LAT to date.

Here’s a visual example of the new notification that comes with the update:

Visual example

So, where does that leave businesses? Does it mean there’s no data to track? Let’s hop onto the next chapter…

Challenges and opportunities with iOS 14

Ios14 update insights banner

Will all these updates affect the profit and outcomes of your firm’s campaigns? Let’s look at the scale.

Challenges with the iOS14 update

  • It affects marketing performance, specifically PPC efforts like targeting and reporting conversions.
  • It’s changing Facebook’s attribution. The attribution allows marketers and advertisers to see users’ actions after clicking on an ad and before the conversion, giving them a clearer insight as to users’ general behavior during their decision-making process. Before, the attribution was set to 28 days. Now, the attribution is set to only 7 days.
  • It’ll affect the ability to understand and control ad performance.

Opportunities with the iOS14 update

  • Facebook will still allow businesses to track every single conversion event. This means it will follow what you set as a priority, e.g., monitoring users who click to book a call.
  • There will be a higher focus on metrics related to conversion. For example, Facebook will still show you the following: number of purchases, when they were made, how profitable it was, etc.
  • Because Facebook will allow tracking bottom-line results like purchases, the bottom line results will be more relevant. This means that businesses will need to place a little more focus on statistics like the number of purchases and cost per purchase (case). Consequently, many will need new marketing efforts to maximize bottom-line results.
  • The ones doing the most to gather data through, e.g., their website (AKA first-party cookies), are one step ahead. The reason? They’re collecting their data on their own website without relying too much on third-party cookies from Apple.

How the New iOS Update Disrupts Facebook ads

Social media advertisement is the backbone of the modern ad landscape. Over 9 million businesses are currently advertising on Facebook alone, and almost every business (big and small) is active in the social media “ad scape” in one way or another. So, what happens when the way social media ads work changes substantially? Recently, Apple and Facebook have been in a war of words surrounding privacy. Apple’s latest iOS update 14, which includes the controversial App Tracking Transparency feature, due to be rolled out in Spring 2021, is threatening to disrupt many Facebook ad campaigns.

What’s going on? And how can you prepare your business?

Facebook vs. Apple: A Privacy War

Tech giants waging battles in boardrooms, courts, and media isn’t unusual. Amazon and Oracle are going toe-to-toe to secure a multi-billion-dollar government cloud contract, Microsoft and Apple butted heads over the ban of popular video game Fortnite, and Uber and Lyft have regularly accused each other of poaching drivers and stealing business ideas. But most of these feuds happen largely outside the media, and most are warring over financial frictions stemming from a competitive appetite.

Facebook and Apple are having a different kind of battle — one that’s more about philosophy and privacy than money. On January 28th at the CPDP virtual event, Tim Cook — CEO of Apple — thundered, “An interconnected ecosystem of companies and data brokers, of purveys of fake news and peddlers of division, of trackers and hucksters looking to make a quick buck, is more present in our lives than it’s ever been.” He followed this by discussing how data privacy is more important than ever, and data collection and attribution are polarizing and monetizing humans. Finally, he added, “A social dilemma cannot be allowed to become a social catastrophe.” — a brazen jab at Facebook.

This speech — which seems to be a response to Facebook’s recent advertisement campaign against Apple and its potential upcoming lawsuit — all centers around a new Apple feature rolling out in Spring of 2021. Apple’s AppTracking Transparency Policy will ask users if they want apps like Facebook to track their data across the web — allowing users to immediately opt-out of data tracking.

Tim cook social dilemma speech

Understanding Apple’s AppTracking Transparency Policy

Smartphone social media view

The Apple AppTracking Transparency Policy update — originally announced at WWDC back in June 2020 — will force developers to ask permission before their apps can track/share user data for advertising purposes. To be clear, this is different from Apple’s current iOS, which allows users to opt-out of data tracking. This is an opt-in that displays after users open an app for the first time. In other words, every app will have to explicitly ask permission before sharing your Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) — a unique identifying number that Apple puts on each device to allow advertisers to track data to deliver personalized advertisements.

In addition to the opt-in, Apple will allow users to turn off a new “Allow apps to request to track” feature to permanently deny apps (no pop-up will even appear) from sharing their IDFA.

This is a massive change. Eighty-one percent of Americans already believe that the risks of personalized ads outweigh the benefits. So, we fully expect the vast majority of users to opt-out of data collection. But what does that mean for businesses?

How Will AppTracking Transparency Impact Your Business?

Smartphone user dusk

Apple’s privacy-centric business model (which started around 2010) is at direct odds with Silicon Valley’s ad-dependent financial structure. Apple doesn’t need ads to generate revenue: Facebook does. By association, most businesses that advertise on social media platforms depend on data tracking. It’s the juice that energizes targeting campaigns, re-engagement, and re-targeting. So, what happens when that juice spills out on the counter? According to Facebook, “As more people, opt-out of tracking on iOS 14 devices, ads personalization, and performance reporting will be limited for both app and web conversion events.” And that’s true. The effectiveness of advertising campaigns is about to take a hit, especially for firms that rely on pixel data for personalization and targeting.

Stock market analysis

Google is warning advertisers that they will “see performance fluctuations” once Apple releases its new update, and Facebook is predicting that this update will make it “much harder for small businesses to reach their target audience.” If no preparations for the upcoming privacy feature are made, you should expect drops in performance on targeted ads, increased ad spend waste, and reduced ad potency. Preparation and attentiveness are key!

Facebook recently released a blog post that suggests that the iOS 14 changes will impact the following in campaigns that rely heavily on the use of pixels:

  • Your ability to deliver effective ads
  • Your ability to measure and report on conversions
  • Your ad relevancy
  • Your budget prediction capabilities

And Apple’s recent update isn’t the only privacy-centric update that will impact your ability to serve up hyper-relevant ads. Google has plans to eliminate third-party cookies by 2022. Tech giants (at least some of them) are rallying around privacy as a new pillar of customer-centricity and change. And we fully expect updates like this to continue to be the norm in the ad space.

So how can your business prepare itself for the apocalypse?

Preparing for AppTracking

Suit up sprint start

Note: There are a variety of changes app developers should make such as upgrading their Google’s SDKs and updating their app to include the new opt-in. You can see a full list of those changes from Facebook and Google.

Currently, most material surrounding preparation for this change is targeted towards developers who run the back-end of websites leveraging event triggers and pixels. But what about businesses? How can marketers and businesses prepare for this chaotic change? We’ve identified 7 core preparation messages that will help you digest these changes:

  1. Diversify: The single most important approach to this change is diversification. To be honest, no one really knows how this is going to play out. Facebook is in the midst of working on new APIs, and they will likely roll out a variety of updates surrounding this change. For now, prepare your campaigns and try out different campaign types and strategies before the ATT rollout is finalized. One alternative you could try is encouraging users that interact with your ads to give you personal information early on. Names, email addresses, and the sort can all retroactively be uploaded back onto Facebook to create custom audiences for retargeting purposes.
  2. Consider the new limitations: If nothing is done in preparation for the upcoming privacy feature of the update to roll out, Facebook estimates that this update could cause 50% revenue drops for publishers. That’s insane! Imagine halving your ad effectiveness. That’s obviously not ideal. There are real, tangible limitations surrounding this new Apple update. And you need to be fully prepared in order to counter these possible effects as much as possible.
  3. Re-think targeting campaigns: For years, targeting has been the key to minimizing ad spend waste. After this update, the overall efficiency of this targeting will tank if you rely on pixel targeting. If this is the case, re-think your buyers’ personas and ideal audience. You may need to broaden your horizons and consider new, interesting ways of targeting that don’t rely so heavily on Facebook’s pixel tracking, such as by creating web visit campaigns and using your site’s internal tracking to discern whether a conversion occurred. Facebook lead ads are another effective way for law firms to get leads that do not rely on the Facebook pixel.
  4. Reconfigure your funnel: You have to reconfigure your funnel. We’re working closely with our law clients to ensure that their entire end-to-end marketing funnel is configured in a way that minimizes the impact of this update. Often, this means re-thinking where Facebook belongs in this funnel, and how we can still use Facebook effectively without relying too heavily on targeting (at least until we see some real-time metrics).
  5. Prepare your benchmarking arm: Metrics are about to get out-of-whack. Your marketing department or agency should be preparing you thoroughly for these changes. It’s important to set realistic expectations. Your retargeting, lookalikes based on website data and seeds are about to get messy. Carefully examine your campaigns and analyze your KPIs to establish benchmarks that make sense in the context of these adscape changes. Pay close attention, specifically, to the metrics and results that are tied to iOS devices.
  6. Diversify re-engagement: This is the perfect time to test drive new email, SMS, and push notification strategies. Paid retargeting isn’t going to work as well as it did before in the traditional sense, and even Consultwebs is testing a strategy that involves using video view time and website data as retargeting metrics, so it is safe to say that the more creative you can get with your new strategies, the better. The sky’s the limit, but it would also help to implement tactics outside of the PPC realm.
  7. Keep watch: Your monetization and revenue metrics are going to be crazy during the first few weeks. The key to winning these changes is reacting early. Keep your eyes glued to the data, and you can quickly pull-back and push-forward on things that are working or not working.
  8. Prepare your developers: There are tons of back-end changes that need to be made to accommodate this update. You should consult with your developers or website development agency to help you prepare (on an infrastructure level) for this update.

The Privacy Wars Are Taking Shape

Privacy digital security

As a brand, we’re very conscious of user privacy. Not only is privacy a fundamental right, but privacy-centric practices help brands grow into meaningful and customer-centric centerpieces of their industry. We’re positive that we’ll find a way to continue to bring tangible results to our clients, regardless of these privacy changes. But businesses need to be prepared. This isn’t the time for false promises. There’s a good chance this update is going to wreak havoc on some campaigns that rely on Facebook’s website pixel while others will be largely unaffected. Companies and firms that understand this and have a partner that’s prepared to make both premeditated and nanosecond changes to their campaigns to keep efficiency up are well poised to handle this new privacy landscape.

How law firms can respond to the new iOS14 update

Law firms ios14 update guide

It may seem like your firm is just diving into the unknown with limited data, but it doesn’t have to be this way. To help you brace through, here are 4 actionable steps you can follow:

  1. Leverage 1st party cookies. This means collecting data with the help of cookies instead of solely relying on third-party cookies from Google and such. Although there are many efforts your firm can apply, one excellent action would be to add registration forms across your website. If you’d like to learn more, we’ve previously covered everything your firm needs to know to prepare for a cookie-less future.
  2. Optimize your goals with Google Analytics. You can create Google Analytics goals aligned with what you want to track on Facebook. This is how you’ll get a better vision of the performance metrics you want to measure.
  3. When possible, consolidate campaigns. In other words, it’s best to be attentive and strategic with how many campaigns and ads are launched.
  4. If you are launching many campaigns, A/B tests the frequency and times of the day the ads pop up to the same users.

Move your firm forward

Advance business strategy

Although users can opt-out of app tracking, they’re still spending just as much time on social media channels, and you can still reach out to them through advertising.

Even though the online ad ecosystem has been disrupted, you can ensure a steady stream of calls and cases by keeping the lines of communication open from all angles, whether that’s social media, your website, or any other channel your audience can communicate with you from. 

If you’d like to learn more about iOS, learn more about legal PPC, check on your firm’s health, or, better yet, create a better strategy for your future campaigns, we’re here to help out.