Two Weeks After iOS 14.5, Here’s What We Know

iOS 14 Response Team, New Engen

Key Contributors: Anna Otieno, Mitch Reinhart, Jason Rankin, Brandon Nelson, Kelsey Caesar, Katie Pisarek, Roberto Ortiz & Justin Hayashi

From the moment the iOS 14 update was announced, the mobile advertising space has felt a little tense.

One of the more difficult aspects of the iOS 14 rollout was industry-wide confusion. The impact of this new release lived behind a wall of uncertainty. For many, it simply added more complexity to an already complex marketing practice.

As marketers and media practitioners navigating these choppy waters, we all began to ask tough questions: What does this mean for channel acquisition strategies? How will go-to social channels respond? How will we track user behaviors if we can’t track user behaviors? What kind of impact will this have on campaign-driven revenue?

We knew going into the release of iOS 14 there was a lot of inherent risk for both mobile and web advertisers. Advertisers have scrambled to find ways to futureproof their media strategies, and media channels across a variety of formats have done the same.

Unfortunately, the release of iOS 14.5 didn’t make navigating the matter any less complicated. But take a deep breath. We got this, and we’re here to help you make sense of it all.

A 2-Minute iOS 14 Recap

Back in June 2020, Apple unveiled its plan to release iOS 14. The goal of the release was to put mobile app data control back into the hands of iOS users. This was largely fueled by problematic uses of Apple’s Identifier for Advertisers or IDFA technology if you'll remember.

Simply put, IDFA allows in-app advertisers like Facebook to track user data at the device level — giving mobile advertising platforms in-depth data on virtually any user. This allowed advertisers to tailor ad delivery to users on Apple devices.

Up until the launch of iOS 14, mobile advertisers could access IDFA data by default. Several lawsuits, and sweeping State-level data and privacy laws later, iOS 14 arrived with an in-app prompt called AppTrackingTransparency (ATT), letting users completely opt-out of in-app tracking.

This is where things get complicated. The iOS 14 update represents a big win for data privacy but leaves mobile and web advertisers on shaky ground.

This brings us to the latest release of iOS 14.5. We’ve had a few weeks to digest its release on April 26th. What has changed? How will critical advertising channels be impacted? How will campaigns be managed and scaled?

Security and Privacy Updates

There’s a lot to unpack, but we want to focus on two big ways iOS 14.5 impacts privacy and security for mobile advertisers.

App Tracking Transparency

As of the launch of iOS 14, users could easily opt-out of app tracking on an Apple device. Now, users can also opt-out of any third-party data tracking, including data broker providers like Intelius, ExactData, and CoreLogic to name a few. Any App Store-approved app must also get permission to share user information with data brokers.

App Store Data Transparency

To go a step further, app developers are now required to list the data they collect and track for ads when a new user opts into app tracking.

The Potential Impact on Mobile Ad Campaigns

Delayed User Adoption

First off, the impact may not be all that immediate. For instance, iOS 14.5 is so laden with privacy and data protection that some consumers may hold off on downloading until all data bugs are addressed. These bugs are not insignificant. With more than 3 bugs currently reported, many users are not able to completely opt-out of ATT and run the risk of their data being shared with all their downloaded apps.

Brands May Need to Rethink Mobile Ad Targeting

There’s a misconception that this latest update means fewer ads in general. That’s not necessarily the case. What you will see are fewer personalized, targeted ads on both mobile and web ad platforms users who opt into ATT. Why? Audience personas rely on segmented reporting. This will push advertisers to reconsider how they understand consumers and test new ways of reaching their audience on impacted platforms.

Channel-specific Considerations

The effects of this latest iOS update are far-reaching. Let’s take a look at two social channels that are already seeing sweeping changes to how data is reported, and what you can do to optimize your campaigns for success.


Key Reporting Changes

With the slow adoption from both apps and users to update to iOS 14.5, shifts in how ads are performing have been a little unpredictable. Looking at data for more than 100 clients, we’re seeing a mix of unpredictable results. For instance, most advertisers have seen very little impact with conversions and CPA on aggregate remaining flat week-over-week. Having said that, there are some exceptions, specifically app-centric businesses, that have seen an adverse impact on conversions and CPAs by as much as 30%.

Advertisers are beginning to take action on new predictive data coming from the Facebook Ads platform that basically helps predict opted-out iOS users utilizing 1-day attribution metrics. Additionally, attribution settings will default to a 7-day click-through for newly created campaigns. Overall, there has been little impact on overall spend and placement impressions so far. Still, there are critical steps you can take to future-proof your campaigns.

5 Ways to Optimize Facebook Campaigns Right Now

  1. Set a 2-week campaign budget and stick to it. Adjusting your day-to-day ad spend on Facebook severely limits your ability to understand advertising impact. This simply means real-time budget adjustments won't give you a complete view of iOS device data.
  2. Look for attribution alternatives. With the loss of IDFA, it will be critical to look for ways to bolster individual campaign performance. Advanced Matching, for instance, lets Facebook pull hashed data from input forms on your website (name, email, phone number, etc).
  3. Bolster first-party data collection. IDFA and other data privacy changes will make pixel tracking more difficult, and less reliable. So it will become critical to capture email addresses and other identifying information from your audience. First-party data can be used for other critical marketing tactics like email, SMS, and direct mail campaigns.
  4. Accelerate creative testing. Facebook will continue to have a difficult time delivering the best ads to the best audience segment, so one of your best plays will be to ramp up testing and creative output.
  5. Explore new channels. While all social channels will be impacted, not all will be impacted in the same ways. Facebook is the most vulnerable to negative impact because of its wealth of third-party data. Testing into new channels like Pinterest, Snapchat, Tik-Tok, and Twitter is not only a smart move in general, it could also give you an edge as more advertisers begin to diversify their mobile ad spend.


Data Collection and Reporting Changes

Much of Pinterest’s efforts to address data reporting issues from the latest iOS update have been centered around offloading their reliance on IDFA technology to collect audience data. For instance, they decided to stop collecting IDFAs altogether, and generally expect this to have a limited effect on their platform.

3 Ways to Optimize Your Pinterest Campaigns Right now

  1. Enable Enhanced Match. This is an add-on to your Pinterest tag that matches ad conversion data with the person responsible for the conversion. Enhanced Match sends a tracked email to Pinterest to match site events when there’s no cookie present. You can also track cross-device checkouts (otherwise not possible in the ad platform). This gives you a more accurate view of conversions in Ads manager.
  2. Segment your ads by device type. This allows you to evaluate app performance differences across Apple devices and make adjustments, accordingly.
  3. Segment by objective type. There are three objective types to monitor closely:
    • Awareness: This includes brand awareness and video views. Monitor your campaign delivery closely and make critical adjustments that align with your brand awareness goals.
    • Consideration: Pinterest algorithms will automatically optimize your campaigns to drive clicks to your ads based on your set budget. So if you haven’t already, get your campaign setup for automatic bidding.
    • Conversion and Catalog Sales: Again, keep your campaigns set to automatic bidding, and let the Pinterest algorithm do the heavy lifting for you.

We know there’s still a lot to learn about the future impacts of this update. The good news is that we have a close eye on the ever-evolving cascade of iOS 14 updates. We’ve got your back.

Now, go deeper into what this means for your brand’s mobile campaigns. Contact us to learn more.