The Fallout of Apple’s iOS 14

Remember the days when “protecting one’s privacy” simply meant lowering the shades in your house, or shredding paper documents? To be honest, neither do we. That’s because, over the past 20 years, the ability to control one’s privacy has changed drastically. With the widespread adoption of the internet, and then later as social media platforms emerged, consumers have been slowly but surely relinquishing authority of the personal information that is not only being seen, but also tracked by businesses and brands, and even worse, by malware and hackers.

As a result, the push for user privacy has been years in the making. Between 2012 to 2017, many consumers started to understand how closely their behaviors were being monitored and how easily their personal identifiable information (PII) could be breached. In fact, by 2016, 86% of internet users had taken steps to remove or mask their digital footprints. The defining moment for privacy changes transpired in 2018 with the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal and later that year, a new era of privacy regulation came to be with the adoption of the General Data Protection Regulation.

Today, privacy measures are about to take another unprecedented step with the forthcoming launch of Apple’s iOS 14. In short, Apple will require any apps that want to track a user’s online actions for advertising purposes to ask explicitly for permission to do so. The biggest casualties of this change? Facebook and Google, and the brands that use them to reach their potential customers. So, while this is welcome news for users who are looking for further ways to protect their privacy, it raises a lot of questions and concerns for marketers.

So, what now?

While the processes to handle these changes are still evolving, Facebook, specifically, has outlined a few things that advertisers must consider moving forward. On top of the list, advertisers who plan to track conversions on their website are being urged to do the following:

Verify your website’s domain

This can be done through the Business Settings of your Facebook account, and is something that Carbon will proactively do for each of our clients.

Define and prioritize a maximum of 8 pixel events to track per domain.

Recognize that your number one goal, for example purchases, may not be the number one priority from an event tracking standpoint, as not everyone who visits your website will make a purchase. Rather, you may choose the “add to cart” event as a better choice from which to optimize.

Anticipate changes to the attribution window.

Event attribution is changing to a 7-day click model. 28-day click and view through, as well as 7-day view through will no longer be options within the Facebook advertising platform.

Identify campaign optimization strategies that may require testing.

With reduced tracking and increased data restrictions, advertisers will have to consider other ways to optimize campaigns. This could include testing different bid strategies, alternative audience options, and specific placement selections.

While Facebook is certainly a big platform, we realize it’s not the end-all-be-all for marketers. So how else should your brand prepare?

For one, take steps to grow your 1st party database and enable for authentication across all online and offline brand touchpoints. This could be dedicating budget to lead generation email capture so you can convert customers at a lower cost through email later. Or it could be incentivizing your customers to share their PII at brand touchpoints.

Secondly, go old-school. That’s right – rely less on 3rd party data and partner with publishers who have their own data, i.e. 2nd-party data, that aligns with your brand and objectives. Doing so assures access to permissioned PII and data that is measurable, as well as scalable.

The changes from Apple’s iOS 14 may be enforced as early as this month. Only time will tell how these new rules will truly impact advertisers on Facebook and elsewhere but preparing now will ensure your brand is able to move forward relatively unscathed. One thing is for certain: as consumers continue to choose privacy over ad relevance, the importance of the total customer experience will be instrumental in moving a brand forward. After all, a brand is so much more than just its digital advertising.

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