Initially released in September 2020, Apple’s iOS 14.5 is the newest operating system developed for iPhones and iPads.
The update is known as the App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework, and means that users will now be prompted to opt in or out of having their data collected by apps that share it with third parties.
This change is expected to severely impact larger companies such as Facebook and Google, as collecting user data is key to their targeted marketing strategies, but many others in the digital marketing sphere are set to face significant challenges.
In effect, these changes aim to position Apple as a consumer-first brand that respects users’ online privacy. In other words, it’s the good of the public first, marketers and companies second.
The overarching problem caused by the update is that as users can now opt out of having any of their data shared, these changes will drastically reduce marketers’ ability to target consumers based on their online behavioural patterns.
But while the update won’t stop ads from appearing, some of the critical potential drawbacks include:
- Difficulty demonstrating ROI.
- Decreased ability to execute audience target marketing strategies.
- Disconnection from evolving market and consumer trends, values and preferences.
According to the Financial Times, the tech giant looks to be expanding its own ad business, reportedly planning to build a second ad slot into its ‘Suggested Apps’ section. Under this feature, users would be exposed to an ad regardless of whether it was relevant to their search, potentially giving brands access to a broader audience.
But while brand exposure may technically receive a boost, this feature would need to be used strategically to avoid wasted spending on non-captive audiences. If available, it remains a high-risk option as specific conversion rates will still be inaccessible.
The number one priority for brands and companies should be a focus on adapting to Apple’s ATT framework because it’s here to stay. The company’s market share – Apple accounts for almost 50% of mobile operating systems in Australia – means that a considerable segment of all consumer bases will be affected.
However, some adjustments may ease this transition:
- Exclude iOS users when running campaigns based on conversion objectives.
- Grow other aspects of your digital marketing portfolio, such as your email marketing strategy.
- Develop diverse and streamlined communication channels with consumers that don’t rely on one platform or audience segment.
- Clarify the extent of the ATT’s impact by analysing previously collected data to determine the percentage of your audience who engage with content via an iPhone or iPad.
- Buy relevant data packages from other companies.
In summary, the digital advertising and marketing industry has no choice but to adapt to these sweeping changes. Despite being detrimental to many in the short term, the ATT presents an opportunity for brands to innovate, diversify and implement strategies that will support their long-term marketing efforts.