Apple’s release of iOS 14.6 comforts users concerned about their online privacy. It’s also triggering headaches for marketers accustomed to leveraging user data to target ads and messaging.
App Tracking Transparency, a privacy feature in Apple’s latest mobile operating system, would blaze a new trail in internet security. ATT forces apps, browser cookies, or marked text files to prompt, via pop-up, explicit user permission before collecting the user’s data regarding location, sites visited, and products added to shopping carts. The alert: “______ would like permission to track you across apps and websites owned by other companies. Your data will be used to deliver personalized ads to you.”
Many users dislike being tracked across digital time and space. They feel a pervasive uneasiness over being retargeted for sites or products they clicked on in advertisements, social media and email, sometimes even after they’ve cleared their caches. An explicit notification gives more freedom to the user, and it exposes to them the breadth of data held by third parties in the name of a personalized browsing experience.
Facebook is taking particular umbrage at ATT. The social media giant claims that Apple is severely restricting advertisers’ ability to run personalized ads. Facebook argues that this will cause users to encounter less of what they want to see online, as scattershot advertising noise ramps back up. Facebook contends that paywalls will proliferate, as website owners lose the ad revenue that keeps them in business. Finally, Facebook predicts that smaller businesses who advertise on the web will suffer cuts of over 60% in return for every online advertising dollar they spend.
So, how can your business adapt to the impact of iOS 14 App Tracking?
How Marketers Can Adapt to iOS 14 App Tracking
1) Leverage Your Organic Potential and Invest in SEO
Produce strong content and optimize your website for search. Advertising isn’t going away, but as your site becomes less likely to reach customers through advertising, your placement on search engine results pages will grow in importance. The more relevant, authoritative and functional your website, the more weight it will have with Google’s algorithm. You should:
- Learn how users search at various points in your sales funnel. What long tail keywords do they use when they want general information (“which furniture stores are near me”) versus more narrow keywords with high purchase intent (“buy sofa IKEA”).
- Position your site’s content to list product or service benefits in comparison to your competition. Put this information front and center (“We ship free on orders above $50”).
- Get particular about product specifications or unique aspects of your business that users will search when looking to convert (“no-fee consultation”).
Once you’ve drawn the user to your site via an unpaid result, keep them on-page all the way through conversion by improving user experience and Core Web Vitals:
- Make sure calls-to-action, price points, and contact info are so visible that they cannot be missed.
- Make sure pages load quickly.
- Make sure information is pertinent and up to date.
2) Request Specific First-Party Data Needed to Continue Advertising and Remarketing
- Device location data, email lists and advertising IDs will be pared down or scrutinized under ATT. Request and harvest this information anew through your own website via surveys, email subscriptions, lead forms, or even your own data tracking request at the point of purchase to help you build a site-sanctioned data pool.
- Nurture customer relationships via email campaigns. Use emails for promotions or sales, and apply UTM codes to monitor performance.
- Incentivize customer data sharing via value exchange; offer discounts or other exclusive benefits for a sign-up or opt-in.
3) Be Willing to Change How You Target and Track Data
- Switch to Google Ads Customer Match, which allows you to apply user-provided data to target and retarget across platforms.
- On Facebook, deprioritize lookalike audiences. Build more interest-based audiences, which will pull information from user entries on their Facebook pages, or move to Facebook’s SDK for iOS 14 version 8.1 to continue to personalize ads to iOS 14 users. If your business is app dependent, this version will still track and report conversion events. If your business is dependent on data from conversion events that occur on your website, be prepared to verify your domain through Facebook, aggregate conversion data, and prioritize the eight most important conversion events to your business in Ads Manager.
- Utilize Google Ads modeled conversions. They report and estimate conversions based on data that does not identify individual users. Google Ads “observe” user behavior trends on browsers that can be tracked, such as Google Chrome. It uses those trends to predict the likelihood of conversion events from ad interactions on the unobservable browser types, such as Apple’s Safari. Google can also observe data from signed-in users on Google properties.
4) Assume You Will Need to Loosen Your Targeting via Precise Location or Approximate Location on an App-by-App Basis
- Reduce expectations for any real-time marketing and event targeting, as the net for such targeting will widen. Apple has deemed a user’s approximate location as a whopping 10-mile radius. Think along the lines of interest-based targeting to stay relevant in this arena.
- You can make inferences about audiences by noting trends in your historic location data. This is especially useful if you have a brick-and-mortar location.
App Tracking Transparency doesn’t mark the downfall of digital advertising. But it reminds us that marketing is rooted in trends and market changes. Marketers must be prepared to pivot and reinvent to gain and hold user trust and customer lifetime value.
Not sure how to respond to the latest iOS 14 privacy changes? Reach out to us!