How Will Apple’s iOS14 Impact Digital Marketing?

Apple’s newest iOS14 update adds several new privacy features that may affect digital marketers, and seemingly target Facebook. It’s unclear just how — or even when  — Apple will roll out the major change in how apps like Facebook are able to collect audience data on devices that run iOS. But what is clear is it could have major impacts on the way targeting is done for marketers everywhere.

What do we know?

In addition to its usual product enhancements, iOS14 was designed to be transparent about how apps on your phone or tablet use your data. The biggest of these changes is something Apple is calling “App Tracking Transparency.” Initially announced in the summer of 2020 for a rollout in an update to iOS 14 in early 2021, users would be asked to select whether or not they want apps like Facebook to collect data across iOS14 devices. In the past, users’ data has been tracked automatically after opting into the terms and conditions of either the device or the app.

Now users — who have become more aware of data tracking thanks to documentaries like “The Social Dilemma” — will be explicitly prompted whether or not they want data collected on their phone shared with apps like Facebook.

Users’ data privacy was significantly impacted by the 2018 implementation of GDPR in Europe, and more recently the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), though national regulations in the United States have not taken hold. This move from Apple follows the broader trend towards increased user control over their data.

What does this mean for digital marketing?

The short answer is, it’s too early to say conclusively, but it’s important to continue monitoring — especially the changes to targeting capabilities and audience sizes.

What we do know is that Facebook will now ask iOS users to share data from their device usage with them. We also know that some people will opt-out of this — lowering the number of people in a potential audience pool.

Right now, say you visit “shirts.com,” and you browse 3 shirts on their site through your iPhone’s native browser, Safari. The marketing team at “shirts.com” has placed a pixel on that site so they can remarket to you once you go back to Facebook with those 3 shirts that you visited. But in the future, if you opt-out of sharing data between iOS and Facebook, you will no longer be served those ads featuring the 3 shirts you looked at if the team at shirts.com is targeting based on the pixel. The user will no longer be a part of that audience pool. Additionally, if you buy one of those 3 shirts you were looking at, Facebook will now not be able to track the data as well as it used to for all of the other people who were buying shirts through shirts.com after seeing ads on their platforms. This will not, however, stop Facebook from tracking data for actions you take within Facebook itself, such as clicking a link or interacting with a post.

In theory, this could drive up costs per click and other KPIs because the remarketing audiences will be smaller. Data windows will also shrink, which has already happened by Facebook getting rid of the 28-day attribution window.

What actions should you take?

Over the short-term, marketers should sit tight and see how the data is impacted once the iOS14 change is rolled out sometime in the coming weeks. Making major strategy changes right now could be more harmful than helpful right now. There are, however, some actions you can take now that will benefit you and your company in the long run.

The first is completing Domain Verification within Facebook, which a digital marketing agency like Millennium can assist with. This will help prevent issues with conversion tracking. After that, Facebook recommends ranking 8 conversion events in their pixel center.

Evaluating your overall targeting strategy is a good idea as well. When it comes to strategy, there are two schools of thought to help your targeting remain stable. The first is to drill down your demographic targeting by testing consistently and thoroughly. AB testing still remains a powerful tool in a marketer’s workbench. A second strategy shift is to begin collecting your own first-party data through email or form submissions. This has been a growing trend within the last few years and it’s expected to get bigger because of these iOS changes.


Need help understanding the impact of this change? At Millennium we work with several advertising platforms to ensure that we’re able to reach the right audience at the right time. We have a team of dedicated Facebook and Google certified professionals with years of experience, ready to help.