Here’s What You Need to Know About the Upcoming iOS 14 Update

What you need to know about iOS 14

By now, you may have heard that Apple’s upcoming iOS 14 update will affect how you run personalized ads on social media. The update will require iOS apps to proactively ask users for permission to track them across other apps and websites; previously, users could have been opted in by default.

Given how prevalent iOS devices are, this policy may impact your business’ ability to reach its full audience on iOS devices, especially if you rely heavily on digital advertising or have a mobile app for iPhone and iPad.

While only time will tell the exact impact of this change—the actual opt-in rate will vary from business to business—we wanted to help you prepare and set the right expectations in anticipation of this policy. 

What you need to know about the iOS 14 update

While an exact rollout date hasn’t been announced, Apple has confirmed that it will happen in early spring of 2021. However, if you own an iPhone, you may have already started to see this pop-up for select apps.

Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) prompt will display when a user opens an app, allowing them to choose whether the app can track their behavior to be able deliver personalized ads.
Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) prompt will display when a user opens an app, allowing them to choose whether the app can track their behavior to be able deliver personalized ads.

Think of it like the “accept cookies” banners you’ve likely seen while browsing the web, except for mobile apps on iOS.

The pop-up will trigger for:

  1. Apps that share customer information with other companies for marketing and ad monetization purposes.
  2. Apps that use customer information (like ad platforms) from other companies.

For example, if you ran a retargeting campaign on Facebook to all of your customers that viewed a specific product collection on your iOS app, you would only be able to target customers who selected “allow tracking” for both your mobile app and the Facebook app.

This change affects all platforms that collect data used to personalize advertising. We’ve chosen to focus on Facebook in this article because it’s one of the platforms with the widest reach and the most robust targeting options, and your store likely relies on it for a healthy portion of your online advertising.

How does this impact your business?

If your business has an iOS app that shares customer information with third parties for the purpose of marketing, you must implement the above data privacy pop-up to comply with Apple’s policy. You can find more information on Apple’s developer site.

Even without a mobile app, your business could be impacted by this change if you spend money on digital ads that are served on iOS devices. If a user does not consent to being tracked and receiving personalized ads by any ad platform, including but not limited to Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest, you may not be able to retarget them on those apps. This will likely mean that users of these apps will see less relevant ads.

Note that this may not apply to Android devices and public browser visits to your online store. So while you’ll likely be able to directly target fewer iOS app users, depending on the opt-in rate, you may still be able to reach the rest of your audience.

Here’s what the potential impact would be on your prospecting and retargeting campaigns:

  • Prospecting campaigns: Since you can expect a portion of your iOS audience to opt out of tracking, your targeted campaign will naturally allocate ad spend less efficiently to customers that are most likely to buy. As a result, you may see performance changes depending on your current targeting options.
  • Retargeting campaigns: You will likely be unable to retarget iOS 14 users based on their activity in your apps and websites if they haven’t consented to personalized ads, which will shrink the total size of your retargeting audiences that rely on in-app tracking.

For each platform you advertise on, we recommend that you verify how your data is used and understand what changes need to be made for iOS 14.

If you, like many Shopify merchants, rely on Facebook or Instagram ads, here are specific changes you should be aware of and actions that Facebook recommends you take:

  • Going forward, you will be limited to the use of eight conversion events per domain for optimization. If you use more than eight events today, you will need to prioritize the top eight in Facebook Business Manager.
  • Domains with pixel events shared by multiple Facebook Business Managers will need to be verified in the appropriate Business Manager. Domain verification establishes which Business Manager account has the authority to configure and prioritize the eight available conversion events for a given domain. Learn how to verify a domain.
  • Attribution windows for 28-day click-through, 28-day view-through, and 7-day view-through will no longer be supported. The new default will be a 7-day clickthrough and you will be able to set your attribution window at the ad set level instead of at the account level.

The full list of recommendations is available on the Facebook Business Manager help center. Google and Snapchat and other ad platforms also have guidance in their help centers.

TIP: Shopify’s Facebook Channel lets you to connect and manage your sales and marketing activities on Facebook properties. The channel allows you to customize the amount of information you share with Facebook once you have all required customer consent, to optimize ad spend for Android, web, and iOS traffic.

Install the Facebook channel

How can you adapt to Apple’s new privacy policy?

Here are actions you can take to help ensure you comply, make better use of your ad spend, and optimize your digital marketing overall:

  • Carefully monitor your return on ad spend (ROAS) for your campaigns and reallocate your budget accordingly.
  • If you have an iOS app that shares customer information with third parties for marketing or ads monetization purposes, enable the App Tracking Transparency pop-up for your users before sharing their tracking data with other companies. 
  • Diversify and experiment with emerging social platforms.
  • Consider investing more in organic marketing channels, such as SEO, that aren’t affected by this policy.
  • Consider using incentives and offers to convert visitors from paid channels to your email list. You can still remarket to them via email even if you can’t reach them through retargeting ads.
  • Consider using a last-click attribution model for customer acquisition and relying on UTM parameters to track campaign performance in reporting tools outside of your ad manager, such as Google Analytics.

Preparing for the iOS 14 update

If you rely on digital advertising, the best thing you can do to prepare for this update is remain informed and consider the tips we outlined above. We’ll continue monitoring the development and providing updates on the blog.