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Marketing - Marketing

The IOS 14 privacy update and the implications for marketing.

In this blog post, we talk about Apple's latest move regarding privacy. Apple is taking a strong stance with your personal privacy, which is causing some other tech giants like Facebook to feel like their toes got stepped on. What are the implications for your ads now?


What’s happening?

If you use Facebook Ads, you will probably know that Apple has further tightened its privacy settings, you will have gotten a lot of notifications about this from Facebook, stating that your tracking is no longer correct. Apple wants to use privacy as one of its unique selling points. It gives them a competitive advantage because smartphones with Android software send a lot of information to Google and other advertising companies. In recent years consumers have become increasingly aware of how much of their personal information is simply distributed online to third parties, hence the GDPR legislation in Europe.

Apple has caused a small riot in advertising land with its new IOS software because tracking has now become a lot more difficult.

What are IDFAs and AAIDs?

Before we can talk about the impact on your ads, we need to talk about the IDFA or “Identifier For Advertisers”. This is a unique and resettable ID that is given to an owner of an IOS device. For Android devices, we talk about AAIDs or Android Advertising ID.

These IDs are used to track what you as a person do in a certain app. Just think of Google Maps, Google Calendar, Facebook, Instagram,…

If you know that companies like Google and Facebook track every scroll, click and like on their apps, then you also know how much information they have about you as a person.

A short example is your Whatsapp: have you ever shared your live location with a person? You probably don’t remember it, but at that point the Whatsapp app asked you to start sharing your location forever. Without this information you cannot use the functionality of live location.

If you have ever used this functionality before, then it means that Whatsapp (i.e., Facebook) knows where you are right now. If an advertising flower shop near you has been running ads on Instagram for a week – aiming for store visits – Facebook can also report to this advertiser whether or not you not been to their store, based on your location.

Apple themselves have a nice visual of how this works with their “A day in the life of your data” paper.

In this paper Apple briefly shows what happens to your data on your IOS device. With IOS 14, Apple has made it mandatory for IOS apps that a clear choice is given to the user about what happens to their data. Research has shown that the vast majority will shield a lot more data from their apps. In addition, there is a very good chance that soon more than 90% of IOS users will have IOS 14 installed.

ITP, another Apple privacy feature

ITP or Intelligent Tracking Prevention is an option of Safari – Apple’s browser – which ensures that your cookies can only be tracked by advertisers for 7 days or sometimes only 24 hours.

This limits advertisers to track/target Safari users correctly. That is very significant because according to Statista figures, about 20% of people use Safari as a browser (in Belgium). This means that as an advertiser you can no longer measure all this data.

Previously, ITP was an option in Safari that had to be set by the user. As of IOS 14, this feature is set by default on your device.

Not just Facebook Ads

If you’ve read any articles about the shift to IOS 14 then you’ll probably have seen the battle between the two tech giants. Facebook is accusing Apple of using its position to harm Facebook and wanting to go into the online ads business itself.

Facebook, of course, is a tech company that specializes in defining segments for advertisers. It’s an à la carte list of audiences that can go extremely niche. For each user, the company knows which boxes their personality fits and which interests they have.

If this information is no longer available to them, it becomes a lot more difficult to create a correct image of a person.

It’s not just Facebook that will have to sacrifice in their sales. Google is another advertiser that will be affected. Just think about mobile app campaigns, it will be harder to start tracking these.

In addition, Google was also catching up with Facebook. In recent years, the company wanted to invest even more in audience-based advertising. The investments they have made there will also be less effective now.

When we talk about audiences, we also talk about the targeting possibilities that are available on the different advertising platforms. That is the first part which will have an impact on your ads.

What types of targeting are affected?

Companies like Google and Facebook can start collecting a lot less data from a user by modifying IOS 14 + Safari’s ITP. This ensures that when you advertise the results will be less.

Geographical targeting

The first problematic targeting is geographical targeting. We want to reach people who are in a certain place through this kind of targeting.

Let us go back to the example of the flower shop. The flower shop naturally wants to advertise in the close vicinity of the shop itself. Many people will not drive hours to go get flowers.

Facebook and Google collect this kind of information from their users through their app. For Facebook, this could be Whatsapp, which continues to track your live location in the background because you have given permission to do so. For Google, that could be your Google Maps or Waze (yes, Waze is also owned by Google).

When Google or Facebook lose this information for a large part of their IOS users, advertisers will have to draw their own conclusions. Of course, it also depends on what percentage of your potential customers are IOS users and so on. However, you can be fairly certain that you will be able to reach these local people less specifically.


Facebook and Google track everything you do in their apps. For Instagram, for example, that means how long you keep looking at a post about flowers. Based on this information, they create an image of the user. As much of that information will no longer be available, this image will be less complete.

Retargeting as well, will be a bit more difficult because of the ITP. Safari cookies will be available to third-parties like Google and Facebook only for a very limited time. If you have a business that sells products with a long purchase process, this is problematic.

What about the measurement of data?

In-store measurements

For the same reason that it will be harder to start reaching people in a particular region, the figures from in-store measurements will also be less accurate.

When using Google Ads, in-store measurements are not always available for your account. In addition, you can also wonder how precise these are. During the lockdown, some people with a local campaign, saw store visits flood in, even though the store itself was closed.

These measurements will become even less accurate for IOS users when the updates are implemented.


Attribution is also something that has become more important for online marketing in recent years. This was created to get a better idea of how exactly the buying process of a customer works.

Attribution depends on the type of tracking used on a website. For some products, the purchase process is extremely long, in which case it is important to ensure that a user’s cookie is kept for a very long time.

ITP is now putting a stop to this, as cookies will only be kept for 24 hours, or, if the tracking is not cookie-based, 7 days. If you have Google Conversion Tracking and a Facebook Pixel in place, it’s actually almost impossible to know whether the same person is looking at your page again after a week. In your data this will just be a new user. Through all of this, the attribution dream is collapsing like a house of cards.

We won’t be able to use the data we get to analyze a nice buying process anymore.

The timing

At the time of writing (February 2021) the change is in full swing. People everywhere are updating their IOS devices to IOS 14. It is expected that by mid spring almost every user will have done the update.

Bye bye IOS customers?

Are you an advertiser who depends on IOS customers? Contact us for a solution to this upcoming problem.
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