Apple iOS 14 Cookie Data: What marketers need to know

February 2, 2021 Posted by Data 0 thoughts on “Apple iOS 14 Cookie Data: What marketers need to know”

In 2020, Apple began discussing the rollout of iOS 14 and how they would be making fundamental changes to how data was stored and consequently used by marketers. In short, iOS 14 would reduce the number of days that cookie data could be stored on an Apple device to 7 days as well as giving users the opportunity of ‘opting out’ of tracking. This means marketers will have less access to audience data for campaigns which could affect their results.

Apple has announced that these changes will come into play in ‘early spring’ and the majority of communication about this change has largely been focused on developers – as such, navigating any documentary that has been provided tends to be overly technical and not easily digestible for the average marketer. Therefore we’ve decided to explain what iOS 14 means to your brand and what changes you can expect in 2021.

Cookies & Tracking

Apple is making huge changes to tracking in an attempt to protect a user’s privacy. This means any apps that have been downloaded from the App store are now required to ask the user’s permission to track their data across third-party apps or websites upon the app installation. This will give the user the chance to opt-out more easily, as previously there was the option to do this but it was less visible and therefore had less engagement.

Audience targeting

This leads us on to audiences and audience targeting. By having the chance to ‘opt-out’ brands audience pools are expected to become smaller, meaning targeting could be impacted. Additionally, the effect on tracking will also limit the effectiveness of Lookalike audiences. The expectation is that brands will need to broaden their targeting to reach users.

However, data that you already own for example subscriber email addresses, are not impacted by these changes and we suggest collecting as much data as possible that you own in order to make the best use of paid social media advertising platforms.

Reporting & Conversion Tracking

Reporting and Conversion Tracking will be effected by iOS 14, with time lags in reporting and fewer events being measured.

  • Firstly, there will now be a delay in reporting and rather than getting a result in real-time, you can expect to wait up to 3 days. This means the end of the week/month reports should be sent after 3 or 4 days for accuracy.
  • Additionally, there will be an effect on demographic reporting, as platforms such as Facebook will no longer be able to report on age, gender, region or placement. You can still target via these methods but you can’t measure their effectiveness as succinctly.
  • As iOS 14 will take some time to assimilate all users, platforms such as Facebook Ads will be offering partial reporting on those users who haven’t updated their software or are viewing the ad through Android or Desktop.

Conversion Tracking relates to the number of actions a user takes on your site. For example, Link Clicking, Adding to Cart or Purchasing, amongst others. Previously you would be able to have as many ‘Events’ like this as you wanted but this update will restrict you to 8.

As a result, you must discuss which Events are most integral to your business if you are using a platform such as Facebook Ads. Fortunately, Facebook will assign your 8 Events automatically based on what they consider to be most important however it is still worth double-checking this.

Attribution

If you are using Paid Social for sales then this change will impact attribution. Previously, Facebook used a 28 days click / 1-day view method to attributing Sales. This means if anyone had clicked on an ad had 28 days to convert, or had seen an ad had 24 hours to convert.

iOS 14 has now changed this to 7 days click / 1-day view. Whilst this won’t affect your overall sales, it could seemingly affect the success of Paid Social. You will need to analyze how the timeframe of conversions to predict the effect this may have on sales and ensure that this change is taken under consideration with reporting as to avoid confusion about why paid social is no longer converting as it used to

What solutions are available?

Facebook is working on a solution known as Aggregated Event Management (AEM) which limits the transmission of user data but it will not solve all the issues of the iOS14 update. However, they haven’t released much information about it so this could be a while off.

The recommended method to ‘beat’ this is to focus on email engagement and getting people’s details like that. For example, subscribers have been a brilliant source of revenue for paid social and that audience shouldn’t be affected.

Additionally, traffic-driving campaigns that use link clicks should also be fine which means the focus may be on maximising existing data sets and encouraging users to use more 1st party tracking to make up for the shortfall in 3rd party cookie data. Brands will need to set up domain verification if they use Paid Social and decide up their key event metrics.

This change is likely to have major implications in the digital space with Facebook themselves warning of a difficult year of adjustment.Therefore it is vital that companies take action as soon as possible so that they can be prepared for changes in the spring and manage your clients’ expectations. Facebook has released some informative literature on their response to iOS 14 and this is essential reading for marketers so that you can better understand the implications for ad delivery and reporting.