How Apple’s iOS14.5 update affects your digital marketing

Feb 25, 2022

The Apple iOS 14 update happened way back in 2021, however, it is still a topic that we get asked about quite frequently by small business owners wanting to leverage digital advertising.

In a nutshell, the iOS 14 update means that every time an Apple device user updated to the iOS14 operating system, they were asked a question about whether they would like to have their data shared with third-party apps (such as Facebook, etc.)

The notification would have looked like this...

As you can imagine, there are a lot of Apple users that chose the 'Ask App not to track' option.

Fair enough....

Weelll, the Apple IDFA is the technology that Apple uses to identify unique devices and is used to target and measure advertising without revealing personal information. 

So what?

This means that if you spend time using certain Apps on your phone or purchasing things from specific shops via any of your Apple devices, reading specific blogs, watching certain videos, Apple is tracking this behaviour to build up a profile of you.

Creepy.

Sort of. But they are not the only organisation that does this. Google does it, Facebook does it, Instagram does it. Practically everyone does.

What?

Yep, so all of these platforms are collecting data points about you that monitor your behaviour to then create an online profile of you. Then, these platforms use these profiles to help select what advertising to drop into your Google searches, into your Facebook feed, etc. 

Oooohhh, is that why when I've just been on a website checking out a pair of shoes, the next time I'm on Instagram, that same pair of shoes pops into my news feed?

Got it! And while it's a little creepy, it can also be a good thing.

For example, I have an interest in a certain style of clothing. I prefer certain brands, I read specific content online and I interact with chosen brands online.

To me, I would much prefer to see advertising for those things (or things like those things) that I'm actually interested in.

And the fact is if I don't allow these apps to track my 'interests and behaviours', I risk ads dropping into my feed that are completely irrelevant. Adult nappies anyone?

By opting out of this tracking, you are not stopping ads appearing in your feed, you are stopping relevant ads from dropping into your feed. 

But what does this mean for my Facebook (or other digital) advertising?

The iOS14.5 update has limited your options for targeting iPhone users who choose not to let Facebook (and other platforms) access their data.

Ahhh, I see where you're going...

With a limited ability to target people who are more likely to be interested in your product or service, the targeting for your Facebook and Instagram ads becomes a little less specific.

But the news is not all bad.

These changes should not necessarily affect your potential to earn revenue by using the Facebook Ad platform. Your customer can still click through to your website from a Facebook ad and purchase something - it's just you won't be able to track that sale as accurately as you could pre-iOS 14 updates.

Hmmm, so what do I do now?

If you are a small business owner who is currently running ads on Facebook, one of the things we recommend that you do in response to these changes is use Facebook ads to collect email addresses for your database so that you can capture the data of interested customers.

The beauty of this is that once you have secured that customer in your email database it only costs time and effort, not advertising spend, to send marketing communications to that person on a regular basis.

Some more good news is that this update has only affected website traffic that comes from Apple devices with iOS14.5 installed, where the user has chosen to not allow Facebook to track their activity.

This means that there is still a large audience of people who are unaffected and will still be able to be targeted with personalised ads.

Beauty!

AND! Small businesses can still use Facebook and Instagram ads really effectively to build brand awareness.

So the moral to the story is?

Be sure to diversify the channels that you use to promote your small business. Stuff like this happens all the time in the tech world. If you place all of your eggs in one basket and that basket gets hammered by a decision that sits waaay out of your control, you're stuffed!