Apple iOS 14 Operating System Targeting Changes: Just The Facts

September 21, 2020 Sarah Cavill

In June, Apple announced that substantive privacy changes are coming with the release of the new iOS 14 operating system, specifically to the “identification for advertisers, or IDFA” code used by app developers for tracking user behaviors, similar to cookies. Although Apple has delayed the new privacy settings until 2021, questions remain about why Apple is making such a major change and what it means for digital marketers.

What Are The Privacy Updates Apple Plans To Implement For The iOS 14 Operating System?

According to Kurt Wagner for Bloomberg, “The iPhone maker will require developers to show a warning label to users before collecting IDFA info on iOS 14, and will also require that users opt in to sharing it [IDFA].” Apple explained at the developer conference in June that they believe tracking should be transparent to iPhone users, and that iPhone users should be able to control tracking and IDFA collection. 

How Are Advertisers Responding To The IDFA Changes For Apple iOS 14 Operating System?

Shutterstock_1774247336 New iphone with the apple installation screen with the new IOS 14 operating system next to come out. Sunday, November 17, 20120, New York, United States.

Not well. The negative reactions of other tech giants, like Facebook, is likely what triggered Apple’s decision to delay the IDFA updates. Many across the advertising industry are concerned that Apple’s changes to tracking on iPhones will “significantly limit developer access to IDFA information,” and Facebook said IDFA restrictions within iOS 14 could cause the Facebook Audience Network to take a 50% revenue hit. Without IDFA information, the thousands of developers that depend on Facebook’s Audience Network to fill ad inventory within their mobile apps could lose the targeting capabilities that drive campaigns and inform their success. Facebook argued that the change could essentially render Audience Network “so ineffective on iOS 14 that it may not make sense to offer it on iOS 14 in the future.”

And, while few businesses of any kind are likely to argue that privacy doesn’t matter, the planned Apple iOS changes to IDFA collection could cut into the bottom line for businesses already struggling for revenue because of the pandemic and economic uncertainty. 

What Should Digital Marketers Do To Prepare For The Eventual Privacy Changes Within The Apple iOS 14 Operating System?

While many mobile marketers were undoubtedly relieved that Apple pulled back on the change for now, experts believe an IDFA change remains on the horizon. Martech Today’s Greg Sterling reports, “The most challenging aspect of the opt-in consent feature is Apple-mandated language that could scare many iPhone owners away. While there is some customization and contextual information publishers can insert, the dialog explicitly asks for ‘permission to track you across apps and websites owned by other companies.’” 

However, the good news is that, even with the very direct opt-in language planned for use by Apple, a short survey of 520 mobile users in the U.S. by Search Engine Land found that about 60% of people were either willing to opt in to IDFA collection or “needed more information” to make a decision regarding whether or not they would opt in. And, 56% of those surveyed said that promotions, like discounts and coupons, as opt-in incentives could leave them more “open to persuasion.” 

Brands should use the time over the next several months to develop strategies that resonate with their mobile users when making opting-in decisions, and focus on optimized marketing campaigns that can reach consumers across channels, creating opportunities beyond Apple’s IDFA to learn behaviors and preferences. By gathering first-party data about consumers, brands will be less reliant on IDFA (or Facebook Audience Network) and can create their own, data-based targeted campaigns.

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About the Author

Sarah Cavill

With more than 20 years of writing, editing and reporting experience, Sarah Cavill brings to Digital Media Solutions (DMS) a fine-tuned and diverse set of skills. Her work has been featured in notable publications including The Daily Muse, CBS Local, Techlicious and Glamour magazine. Sarah has a passion for current events and the deep-dive research that goes into the content development and brand identity of DMS Insights. In her role as Associate Content Manager, Sarah contributes to the pitching, researching and writing of multiple stories published each week surrounding digital and performance marketing innovations in pop culture, news, social media, branding and advertising.

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