There is a lot of buzz around Apple’s iOS 14 update. With data privacy at the forefront of debates, the update is being touted as a harbinger of change with the user regaining control over his/her data. On the other hand, there’s a growing concern among marketers regarding the impact of iOS 14 on eCommerce and digital campaigns.
Some of the precursors to the iOS 14 update have already set the pretext of Apple directly addressing privacy issues. These include introducing Privacy Labels, adding pop-ups to the iOS 13 update and restricting third-party cookies in Safari. In fact, in the iOS 14 announcement, the company said, “Privacy is a fundamental human right and at the core of everything we do. That’s why with iOS 14, we’re giving you more control over the data you share and more transparency into how it’s used.” Hence, iOS 14 may be the first privacy-oriented functionality update with effects that might affect just about every digital advertiser.
In the piece, we explore the implications of iOS 14 on your eCommerce business and strategies you can adopt to mitigate its impact. Before that, let’s take a look at a few highlights of the update in itself.
What iOS 14 has on offer!
The update offers users the ability to opt-out of their iOS app being tracked or their browsing data being collected. Once users download iOS apps, it will ask users for permission to track or collect their browsing data. An ATT (App Tracking Transparency) prompt will be responsible to sought this permission. If the user does not want their iOS apps to track or collect their browsing data (called IDFA or identifier for Advertisers) all they can opt-out of tracking by going to “Settings” .
The update is likely to have an impact on digital campaigns, in a sense that it would limit:
- Personalized advertising
- Lookalike audiences
- Exclusion targeting, and more
Impact of iOS 14 for Businesses
Essentially all major digital advertising platforms could lose their visibility over iPhone users. The update will result in a massive loss in a dataset that powers the algorithms of ad platforms. Meaning, companies that operate within the digital ecosystem, will be forced to figure out other ways to optimise digital performance. Though businesses aren’t exactly losing data, they are losing access to a huge data set that was being mined for revenue. This could mean:
- Businesses might struggle to reach their target audiences
- Apple might have to serve generalized ads to its users, based on the websites they visit.
- Ad recommendations are likely to be less relevant leading to an impact on lead conversion rates.
How will iOS 14 affect your eCommerce Business?
As an eCommerce company, if you have been relying heavily on Facebook advertising, you are likely to face several bottlenecks. Both on account of reach and cost.
You will no longer be privy to the data of iOS users, should they decide to opt-out of tracking. This will impact Facebook’s dynamic ad units, since Facebook will not have access to data on what iOS users click or search outside the platform. This means that, among other things, Facebook will be unable to determine the impact ad campaigns have had on conversions for this dataset.
The amount of guesswork in optimizing campaigns is likely to increase. Also, because of the decrease in audience size, it’s going to be harder to reach a critical mass.
Being a marketer in this Privacy-Centric World
Marketers will need to think of innovative ways to thrive in a privacy-centric world. Here are some areas to consider and work towards:
1. Facebook will need you to verify your domain in Business Manager. By doing this, you will ensure that the iOS 14 update won’t disrupt your ability to configure conversion events.
2. You will need to diversify your customer acquisition channels beyond Facebook. Some of the channels to consider include:
- Digital events
- Organic social media marketing
- Email marketing, and more
When done right, email marketing can become a very valuable customer acquisition tool. Provided, you have customer consent before you add them to your email list. This way you ensure a reasonable frequency and the right content strategy. You do not want to come across as spammy.
3. With attributing conversions becoming difficult post the iOS 14 update, it will be good if you start looking for alternate attribution avenues. Also, consider establishing historical and seasonal benchmarks for delayed attribution. This way, the historical data for 28-day click through, 28-day view through and 7-day view through will remain accessible via the Ad insights API. Besides, Google analytics, of course, will continue to be an important source.
4. Additionally, you should probably develop some post-purchase surveys to ascertain if the conversion was indeed brought about by Facebook Ads. Should you have your own branded app, a privacy disclosure will be in order so that you can explain what user data you collect and how you plan to use it.
5. Narrow down your conversion events to eight, if you are running Facebook ads. It is also important to rank conversion events manually within Ads Manager so that you can prioritize them for tracking and optimization. Also, since Facebook is limited to 8 conversion events per domain, it will pause your ad sets if they aren’t using these eight events.
6. Last but not the least, it’s important to build trust with your customers and to offer value-added experiences. With increased privacy also comes the loss of personalization; it only stands to reason that users will value any value-added experiences, more than ever before.
Overall, there is no better time than this to make a pivot when it comes to reliance on social media ads. This does not mean that you need to stop using them, but that the over-reliance on them needs to be stymied. Instead, it will work well to start to develop multiple acquisition channels as also begin work towards collecting data oneself. The trick is in being nimble and agile to be able to take these changes in one’s stride and not let this iOS 14 update impact your eCommerce strategy.