A Comprehensive Look at the Apple IOS 14.5 Update: The Single Biggest Change to Digital Advertising

Tabitha Armstrong May 3, 2021

Discover what this means for your ads and conversions, and what you need to do to be compliant

What’s in this article:

 

What is the Apple iOS 14.5 Update?

Apple-iOS-14.5-Update-affects-certain-devices

Apple has been warning marketers for months that the new Apple iOS 14.5 Update would change digital advertising as we know it. But, most small businesses are not ready for this update – and it is a big one.

Here’s what you need to know about the new Apple Update.

Apple devices with this update will include ‘App Tracking Transparency’. This feature will now automatically opt its uses out of tracking. Users will be asked, in app, if they want to be tracked or not.

If they choose to not be tracked those people will NOT be included in your Click Through numbers, Conversion numbers, event tracking, or any other data reporting that you are used to seeing in your ad reports.

It is believed that this could affect Facebook Ad reports by 40% – 60%.

But that is just the tip of the iceberg.

The update targets the IDFA or Identifier for Advertisers that is assigned to each Apple iOS user. This is the identifier many ad platforms use to track users.

(Get Access to our video presentation on this update, including a walk through of Facebook complience, and other tricks to work around this update)

Apple’s New Update Goes Beyond Ad Report Numbers

Apple-iOS-14.5-Update-and-Facebook-ReportingThis new update will change how you think about your ads and your numbers. Not including some Apple device users in ad reporting means that your conversion numbers will be off. But it goes farther than that.

Apple Users that opt-out of tracking will no longer

  • Have interests and demographics recorded for any Social Media App
  • Be included in retargeting campaigns
  • Be included in look-a-like audiences
  • Be included when you choose ‘interest’ options in your ad set up
  • Be included in video views on social media platforms
  • Allow ad personalization such as serving different ads based on gender, age, placement, region, etc.
  • While Facebook and Snapchat appear to be the platforms that will be hit hardest by this change. Will also affect LinkedIn somewhat and many other smaller platforms.

Google has taken steps to stop using the IDFA prior to Apple’s role out of this App and so Youtube ads and search ads are not supposed to be affected. However, Google Ad Network will be, though how extensive the affect will be is not yet know – and Google updates may solve these issues.

Outside of the App Tracking Transparency feature there are also requirements that Apple has given to advertising platforms. The requirements will affect almost every advertising platform, most advertisers, and go beyond just the Apple users that choose to opt-out of tracking.

The update will affect the following across all advertising platforms

  • Hinder ability to optimize ads because many event and conversion goals will not be trackable
  • Limit the number of campaigns to 9 per any advertising platform
  • Limit the number of ad sets per campaign to 5
  • Turning off an ad or a campaign will take 72 hours to register
  • All ad sets in a campaign must have the same optimization type/goal
  • Limit event tracking (for Facebook it will be only 8 events total)
  • Limit all tracking to 7 days from click (used to be 28 days in Facebook)
  • Delay reporting by 72 hours (Apple users that allow tracking will be recorded but those numbers will take 72 hours before showing up in your advertising report)
  • There will be a limit to campaign IDs per network

There is also some speculation that in the future you may have to put Apple users in their own campaign, but this isn’t definitive yet.

(Get Access to our Video Presentation with more details)

 

Other things affected by the update:

This update may also affect split testing software depending on how the software tracks traffic. If you are using split testing software, contact the company to see if this update will affect them and what you can do to get reliable numbers.

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Some platforms will begin using an Estimated Results at the campaign level. Facebook is an example of this. They will move to an aggregated reporting for conversions at the campaign level. So though they can’t ‘track’ and ‘report’ on people that opt out – they are allowed to track traffic enough to give an estimated conversion number at the campaign level, but you won’t know which ad set that conversion came from.

There is also some speculation that Apple will move to statistical modeling. If this happens you will get a message telling you that ads similar to yours are seeing X conversions, further limiting an advertiser’s ability to track the performance of an ad or optimize based on data.

Apps

For businesses that sell apps in the Apple App store there are even more changes to be aware of.

Those running Facebook Ads to increase app installs will now need to charge in app for installs or subscriptions. These in-app payments benefit Apple, who does not make any commission for Facebook ads, but there are commissions from app downloads. This forces businesses to comply with Apple’s in-app payment requirement as well as all of Apple’s Update requirements.

If your app collects user data and shares it with other websites, or tracks across apps and sites then you will need to use the App Tracking Transparency Framework. This includes:

  • Setting up the User Tracking pop up that will display to iOS 14.5 users
  • Setting up the call request that will ask the user for one-time authorization to access the app-related data.
  • Use the trackingAthorizationStatus property to check authorization status
  • Facebook Specific Changes You Need Know About

Facebook has made the most drastic changes so far to meet compliance with this update.

Apple-iOS-14.5-Update-and-Facebook-AdsNew requirements for running ads are mandatory of Facebook will pause your ads until you meet compliance.

To Start with, all Facebook ad users will need to create a Business Account. Most small business still run their ads from an Ad Account, and many new users or those less tech savvy are only boosting or running small ads from the Ad Manager within the Facebook page.

This will no longer be acceptable for Facebook. You will need to create a Business Account and then implement the following things.

  • Two-Factor Authentication
  • Backup Admin

Both of these can be found in under the Business Account -> Business Settings -> Security Center

And the third requirement is Domain Verification.

  • Domain Verification through the Facebook Business Account

If you own your domain, this will be fairly easy. Go to the Business Account and under Business Settings -> Brand Safety. Click the Add button to add a domain and enter in your web address. You will then be given a piece of code to put in the <head> section of your website. Once that is done you click the verify button in your Business Account and you should be all set.

There is also the option for DNS verification. If you have a domain but redirect it to another page, or it goes to a 3rd party site where you’ve build a landing page, you will need to use this option.

There is also an HTML file option.

We will talk more about the implications for this in the next section.

Another thing that will change for those that are Facebook Business Account users already is breakdowns.

Up to this point, advertisers have been able to break down interests, age, gender, region, placement, and many other data points in their Business Account. This will no longer be available as Facebook moves into full compliance with this update.

Getting your domain verified

This requirement could be a big deal for those that use third party sites to host their website. If you use Kajabi, Leadpages, Clickfunnels, Stealth Seminar, Square Space, Thrive Cart or any application where you build your website within their app you much be sure that you own your domain.

A web address that looks like this http://mysite.com or https://mysite.com is a domain you own.

But if your website looks this mysite.kajabi.com or mysite.clickfunnels.com that is a domain you do not own.

For many Thrive Cart users, Google Blogger, Etsy store owner, Ebay users, and many other blog/mini-store sites this will be a major game changer.

As far as Facebook is concerned, once they roll out all compliance measures, you will not be able to run an add to a domain that you do not own. Every ad will need to resolve to a landing page on a website with a domain you own.

This will also affect affiliate links. If you send affiliate traffic to a partner’s website or offer directly from Facebook, you will now have to take them to your website first.

The Unknown Implications of the Apple iOS 14.5 Update

There are still a lot of things we don’t know about this update. Including

Google-analytics-and-the-Apple-iOS-14.5-Update

  1. The full impact on lookalike audiences and custom audiences
  2. How it will affect the learning phase of ads
  3. The number of Apple Users that will choose to opt-out of tracking
  4. The full impact this will have on third party sites
  5. If this update will facilitate other changes to increase user privacy
  6. If other ad platforms will follow in Facebook’s footsteps to make sweeping changes to their ad platforms
  7. The level to which split testing apps will be affected

 

What’s Not Affected By the Apple Update

 

  • Desktop and Laptop Apple Computers are not affected by this update – only certain Apple mobile devices will be affected
  • Google Analytic page traffic will not be affected
  • People will still optin, buy, convert, and upsell – that doesn’t change. How you will track the data and see those numbers will

 

Steps you need to take now before the full affect of the Apple iOS 14.5 update is felt

 

  1. Go into all of your ad accounts and export your needed data
  2. Gather all interest, gender, age, location, etc data for your ads if it is available to you (then you have it before the changes are made and this feature goes away)
  3. Set up a Business Account with Facebook if you do not have one
  4. Make all needed adjustments in Facebook Business Account as outlined in the Facebook section of this article
  5. Apply UTM codes to all of your Ad links so that you know what traffic came from what link
  6. Get Google Analytics on your website if you do not already have it installed
  7. Make sure all forms and conversions on your website have a tag so that you know in your CRM where people came from, what forms they filled out, and what they have bought.

What the Apple iOS 14.5 update has done is taken marketers back in time somewhat. Your ad reports will be less useful.

Digital ads were out performing television and radio ads because there was a level of control and detail that couldn’t be had in more traditional media – some of that is gone now. Ads will be more focused on overall monthly numbers vs. Daily ROAS.

There are still ways to get the level of detail tracking that many advertisers have become accustom too – it will just take more work and the use of older techniques – those that existed before social media advertising had reporting.

We’ve Put Together a Video Presentation about the Apple iOS Update

This includes some step-by-step instructions for getting Facebook Complient, and other things you can do to work around this update.

Get Access.