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Apple iOS 14+ update

Wednesday, January 13, 2021 in Blog

The new iOS 14+ (iPhone Operating System) update is to be released in early 2021 according to Apple. 

With this update, Apple is making sure that in order to track users’ activity across the web for advertising, apps and platforms such as Facebook and Google MUST explicitly ask for users’ permission to opt-in for tracking. For each and every app they will be shown the pop-up message “Allow Tracking” or “Ask App Not To Track.”

Users that opt-in will be shown personalized ads as they are shown today, before the update.

Users that opt-out will still have ads shown, but they’ll be based on other methods like contextual targeting. This means that your ads will reach some of them, just not based on their specific interest.

What does this mean for your Facebook ads?

Here are some impacts on the ads and solutions we can use:

1. Ad delivery - we can expect a decrease in ad delivery for those iOS 14+ users that opt-out from tracking, since Facebook won’t be able to recognize their interests and deliver them ads based on those interests. This means when your ad reaches/is delivered to an iOS 14+ user, they might not be your target audience.

2. Retargeting - One of the most powerful things we do now on Facebook is retargeting people that visited our websites. With the update, we won’t be able to use it anymore since Facebook won’t know who visits our website for iOS 14+ users that opt-out. Facebook is only going to know what those users are doing on Facebook and Instagram. So now, we have to retarget them differently and build our audience by targeting people based on actions they have taken on Facebook:

  • - if they’ve clicked on the ad,
  • - liked a Facebook or Instagram post,
  • - left a comment on a post,
  • - watched a certain percentage of the video - any specific video or group of videos they watched on the page.

3. Using the CTA (call-to-action) button for retargeting - people usually click on the CTA button on the Facebook ad to end up on your website, however, since we are no longer going to be able to track them based on website visits, we can track people who clicked on the CTA button.

4. Ad spending - we can expect lesser results for the same amount of money invested in ads, e.g. if we had 10 leads for $10, now we might have 6 or 7 leads for $10 because we won’t be able to use the full potential of audience targeting.The update will have the biggest impact on Facebook Audience Network since this placement gives you a way to extend your reach beyond the Facebook platform and into mobile apps and websites. Now with the update, your money is better spent if you turn off Audience Network since on this placement ads can be delivered to the iOS 14+ audience that is not relevant for your targeting. If you set up a campaign with Reach, Video Views, Engagement, Brand Awareness, or Traffic as an objective you can turn off Audience Network as ad placement by selecting Manual placement > Facebook and/or Instagram, Messenger, so that the ad doesn’t spend budget on Audience Network. Lead Generation ads, that the majority of us use most frequently, don’t use this placement per default.

Impact on Facebook pixel

We use Facebook Pixel to measure the effectiveness of our advertising by understanding the actions people take on our website.

For example, for the retargeting campaign, we set up Facebook pixel to track people that have visited our website after seeing an ad but haven’t converted, and we target them. At the same time, we are able to exclude people that have already converted to leads from this retargeting campaign. However, this update affects Facebook’s ability to process and receive this information for iOS 14+ users that opted-out, so Facebook will take measures on their behalf and start processing pixel conversion events from iOS devices using Aggregated Event Measurement.

On our part, as advertisers, we are advised to verify websites’ (parent) domain, so when Aggregated Event Measurement becomes available, it should enable pixel conversion tracking and we should be all set-up for retargeting again. We’ll know more about this feature once it takes action and we measure and compare results.

Check the link below to learn how to verify your website:

Impact on Google ads


The biggest change that we’ll notice is how data is reported back to advertisers. User journey through your website won’t be available for the iOS 14+ users that opted-out. However, Facebook will request permission through Apple's AppTrackingTransparency framework to track conversion events occurring on iOS 14+ devices.

We expect something similar, a back end solution for in-house data collection, from Google as well.


Overview on iOS users and the effect this update will have on them

Android maintained its position as the leading mobile operating system worldwide in October 2020, controlling the mobile OS market with a 72.92% share leaving iOS 27% share. Google Android and Apple iOS jointly possess almost 99 percent of the global market share.

However, in Canada, iOS and Android are almost tied for market share and we want to be prepared when the Apple iOS 14+ update takes action in early 2021.

This update will give Apple iOS 14+ users more control over their privacy since they will have the option to decide whether or not their data is used for delivering personalized ads. Apple will begin to require that all apps in the App Store show a tracking permission prompt to users on iOS 14+ devices. The update will affect iOS 14+ users in a way that if they opt-out of the tracking option, they will still receive and will see ads, the difference is those ads won’t be related to their specific interest, e.g. home buying/selling/renting, but will be more general or completely unrelated to their web search and interests.

This option for opting in or out tracking for marketing purposes has been around since iOS 10, and Android users have it as well in their smartphone settings. The only difference is that updates will force iOS 14+ users to decide to opt-in or out as soon as they land on the app. These changes will mostly impact e-commerce businesses and businesses that heavily rely on app installs. We’ll know more when the update takes action, but what we can expect is to have Facebook and Google find a way to bridge these changes and self regulate so to keep businesses investing in advertising on their platforms.




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