iOS 14 is Now Available – Will Your Ads Be Affected?

Posted by Mike Kent on 09/16/20

A Win For Privacy, Another Loss For Advertisers

If you’ve ever felt like online ads are following you around, you’re not alone. For those of you who are more tech-savvy, you know this as retargeting. Apple’s Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) helps businesses utilize this type of digital advertising across their devices. That’s all about to change this week with the release of iOS 14. 

In the latest release, by default, Apple will turn on the setting that limits ad tracking on all devices. Before iOS 14, an iPhone user would need to locate the privacy settings, click on advertising, and turn on the Limit Ad Tracking option. There’s no denying that this is a significant win for user privacy. However, it does have some drawbacks for both advertisers and Apple users.

What types of advertising are affected by the iOS 14 change?

The advertisers hit most by the IDFA changes are those businesses who use Facebook or Google advertising to promote a mobile app. If you’re running ads for your website using Facebook or Google Ads, you’re in the clear for now.

However, with privacy becoming a bigger talking point over the past few months, there’s a possibility that browsers like Firefox may enact future changes like those in iOS 14, making ROI challenging to track.

What does this mean for businesses actively advertising mobile apps?

Identifying users and targeting them is now a whole lot more complicated. With the new IDFA changes, advertisers will not receive tracking information from a user’s device unless they opt to share it with a specific app. That means businesses will no longer be able to gather data within an installed app such as:

  • Actions performed
  • Exact location
  • Device details
  • User-specific data

According to the iOS 14 preview web page, Apple will also require apps to “self-report their privacy practices, including data collected by the developer and used to track you across companies, in a simple, easy-to-read format” on the App Store.

With this information, users know what to expect from a privacy standpoint before purchasing or downloading an app, making it harder for apps to include a tracker. 

These IDFA changes don’t necessarily mean the end of advertising on iOS devices. However, it does mean that attribution will be much more difficult. Without access to a person’s unique id, showing a specific ad to a customer based on device, location, or action will be next to impossible. This change is likely the beginning of the end for retargeting ads.

" Without access to a person’s unique id, showing a particular ad to a specific type of customer based on their device, locations, or actions will be next to impossible. "

What are some potential drawbacks for iOS users?

Random Ads

Limited ad tracking does not mean you’ll see fewer advertisements. It just means that you’ll see more random and less relevant ads. I’ve had the Limit Ad Tracking setting turned on for some time now, and I can tell you that I’ve seen an uptick in the number of ads that are irrelevant to me. 

Before turning on this setting, I used to see the same ads on repeat. Now I receive a random assortment of ads. I appreciate that I don’t have to view the same ad after every YouTube video. However, viewing irrelevant ads is almost just as bad as seeing a relevant ad repeatedly.

A mobile advertisement on an iPhone running iOS 14.
Encountering “Hacky” Techniques to Capture Your Data

There’s no doubt that advertisers will attempt to bypass Apple’s privacy change. One route they may take is employing more URLs in and out of an app. Within the Privacy section of the iOS preview, there’s no mention of limiting trackers on internet browsers. Theoretically, an app could lead a user to a specific URL within a browser, grab the trackable data, and place them back in the app. 

Moving people in and out of an app is frowned upon from a user experience standpoint, but if a company’s desperate enough for data, it’s something they may use.

What Might the Future Hold?

For years advertisers have had free rein to track users across the internet. With a renewed focus on consumer privacy, the change Apple is making to limit trackers is likely just one of many upcoming. 

If businesses and advertisers hope to continue seeing success from digital advertising campaigns, they’ll need to understand their customers better and choose placements based on knowledge rather than tracking data. Companies with larger budgets will still be able to plaster their ads all over the internet, but only at the ire of users, potentially leading to future ad restrictions.

How We’re Helping Our Clients?

At Fable Heart Media, we strive to stay ahead of marketing trends and technology changes for our clients. Details matter, and even the smallest update can have a major impact on their bottom line. By staying in close contact with our clients and taking an agile approach to marketing strategy, we can help our clients navigate changes like IDFA.

Does your company need help to navigate the ever-changing digital marketing landscape? Give us a call or contact us today! We’d love to learn about your business and see how Fable Heart Media can help. 

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