Apple’s iOS14 Announcement Will Transform Digital Marketing As We Know It

January 27, 2021
Posted in Paid Social
January 27, 2021 Dana Driskill

Apple’s iOS14 Announcement Will Transform Digital Marketing As We Know It

Apple's data privacy updates will make it more challenging for media buyers, but you shouldn't panic

2020’s Word of the Year was pivot. The best laid plans were thrown out the window and the entire world pivoted to new ventures, new business models, new working environments, and more.

We’re not even a full month into 2021, and we’re already being thrown curveballs to incorporate into our tentatively built marketing plans. Last year, Apple announced that iOS 14 would bring changes for digital marketers, but the release was delayed. Now it seems like Apple is taking its New Years Resolution seriously and rolling out iOS 14 in the coming weeks. 

Among these changes, the biggest, most anxiety-inducing disruption regards a change in data privacy. When users are updating their operating system to iOS 14, they will be asked if they’d like to opt out of tracking when downloading new apps. 

Before you panic, take a deep breath and keep reading. We’re here to walk you through what these changes entail and how to adapt.

What’s changing?

When a user downloads a new app, they will be shown exactly what data the app is using. Here’s an example below that Apple recently shared:

Apps will need to ask permission to track users. When installing a new app that’s implementing the App Tracking Transparency framework, users will see an automated message from Apple as well as a few lines from the app developer explaining what info they’re using to track you and why. 

Apple gives examples of the kind of tracking that is subject to ATT that you can read about here, as well as some do’s and don’ts. 

How will this affect my digital marketing campaigns?

Right now, it’s estimated that these changes will impact about 30 percent of overall traffic, mostly coming from Safari. The extent of this will be determined by the number of people who choose to opt out. If 90% of users still opt in, things will change a bit but not too significantly. If 85% of users opt out, that’s a different story. The IOS 14 update will be rolled out in the coming weeks so only time will tell what opt out rates will look like. 

And in response to Apple’s announcement, Facebook released several statements criticizing Apple in a tech behemoth David vs. David style feud. Besides throwing some punches, Facebook also created a guide for digital marketers to create and measure new campaigns both within IOS14 and beyond.

While we wait for IOS14 to roll out to the general public (sometime between now and March) and as we digest the changes Facebook has made in response, we can still take action to prepare. Here are a few steps you’ll want to take to ensure your campaigns continue without interruption. 

Facebook recommends that “you may need to verify your website’s domain to help avoid any future disruption of your website campaigns. Domain verification must be done for the effective top level domain plus one (eTLD+1). For example, for, and the eTLD+1 domain is Domain verification should be prioritized for domains with pixels used by multiple businesses or personal ad accounts. This will enable you to configure pixel conversion events when Aggregated Event Measurement becomes available.”

Additionally, web conversions will be limited to 8 preferred events per domain in Events Manager. Aggregated Event Measurement limits domains to 8 conversion events that can be used for campaign optimization. Facebook will initially configure the conversion events based on its algorithm, so make sure to figure out your 8 events and select them as soon as possible.  

Facebook also reports that there will be delays in campaign reporting. Real-time reporting will not be supported and data may not be available for up to 3 days. For iOS 14 app install campaigns, conversion events will be reported based on the time that they are reported to Facebook by the SKAdNetwork API and not the time they occur. Web conversion events will be reported based on the time the conversions occur and not the time of the associated ad impressions. As a result, your ROAS will likely change due to these delays, because if a customer makes a purchase on a Tuesday, Facebook may not be able to show this sale until that Friday. 

Moreover, once Apple enforces their iOS 14 requirements the attribution window for all new or active ad campaigns will be set at the ad set level, rather than at the account level. Eventually, the default for all new or active ad campaigns will be set at a 7-day click attribution window. iOS 14 app install campaigns will report based on the attribution window provided by Apple’s SKAdNetwork API. We recommend that you switch your campaigns to 7 day click attribution window in order to prepare and that you save all historical data related to these 28 day view through metrics for any record keeping purposes, although this data should still be accessible via Facebook Ads Insights. 

Why You Shouldn’t Panic (And What To Do Instead)

With these changes, digital marketers are understandably concerned about tracking and retargeting. The logical leap is that if people choose to opt out of being tracked on Facebook or Google or YouTube, we’ll lose our ability to retarget a customer who previously engaged. The truth, however, is a little more complicated.  

Yes, we are losing our granular ability to track a single user throughout their entire Facebook journey. Instead, we’ll have to figure out new ways to optimize campaigns using the available data and figure out new methods for retargeting previously engaged audiences. Despite conversions being harder to track, we will still have access to session data and other important metrics that can inform us on how ads are performing.

Here are some important data points you’ll still have access to within Business Manager:

  • CPC (Cost per click)
  • CPM (Cost per thousand impressions)
  • CTR (Click through rate)

Your team should look at the data holistically and make sure to consider using CRM, Shopify, and your website to aggregate data alongside Facebook’s data points to measure the efficacy of your campaigns. Rather than relying strictly on ROAS to measure campaign performance, talk with your team and determine if it makes sense to set new KPIs using different metrics. 

Taking a step back to look at the larger picture is important because even if ROAS dips, that doesn’t mean your campaigns are ineffective. In fact, performance could potentially be up but the data is limited due to reporting delays and incomplete individualized tracking of users. 

Beyond this, there are a few potential workarounds to continue measuring click through rates and purchases from specific ads within campaigns. Marketers can create custom coupon codes or custom landing pages to measure performance of these ads, to cite just a couple of examples.

Overall, Facebook is still the future of online digital advertising. We’ve seen time and again the Halo Effect of Facebook, the curious phenomenon that as online advertising increases on social media platforms, overall organic traffic and customer engagement increases.


It’s still too early to tell how dramatically these changes will impact media buying and how digital marketers will find relevant audiences. If 2020 taught us anything (and it taught us a lot), it’s that even in the face of insurmountable disruptions to our daily lives, we can overcome them. We just need to p̶i̶v̶o̶t̶ adapt.

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