There are big changes coming to the digital marketing world… and it’s coming at the hands of two giants in technology.
If you haven’t heard about it already, Apple and Facebook are currently engaged in a massive battle over data. The result of this data could have significant implications for the digital marketing space as a whole, even outside of Facebook. This is an evolving situation and we are going to do our best to translate the information we have at this moment into real advice as to what you should do next.
As information changes, we will do our best to update this blog and give you the best information possible.
Facebook vs. Apple – What is going on?
There is a lot to unpack in this situation, but here’s the “long-story-short version”.
Apple recently announced some changes that are coming to their devices specifically around data security in their iOS 14 updates. Simply put, users are going to have more say as to which apps on their Apple device are allowed to track their data and which ones are not.
This will be done by a pop-up message that will appear when you open your apps for the first time. At that time, you will be able to choose whether or not you want that app to be allowed to track ALL your behavior on your device.
On a personal level, this is a great change! Having more control over your data is always a good thing. However, from the perspective of others, this threatened their entire business.
By this point, it is no secret that Facebook makes its living on collecting your data. Especially with the bad reputation that Facebook has with handling data, they are expecting a lot of iOS 14 users to opt-out of data tracking. Because of this, it threatens Facebook’s advertising platform as the less data they are able to collect, the less accurate the data is going to be and the less effective the ad platform will be as a whole.
Facebook and Apple have been engaged in this battle now for months with billions of dollars being spent in the courtroom to determine whether or not Apple is allowed to put a hold on the flow of data to apps in the app store.
Ok so that ended up being not all that short… but trust us, we did the best we could!
What does iOS 14 actually mean to social media advertising?
These changes actually have a pretty significant impact on the world of digital marketing.
As we mentioned before, this doesn’t just impact Facebook. Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, X, and many other platforms collect data in the same way as Facebook and will also have the data they collect impacted. Overall, this means the quality of data that is being collected by social media platforms is going to decrease fairly significantly, which will in turn affect the quality of advertising.
For example, let’s say you want to target people that are interested in dogs with a Facebook Ad. Facebook currently collects information from your device to determine that you might use a dog training app or you navigate to your Amazon app to look at collars to know that you have a dog and might be shopping for products. After the update, if that person opts out, Facebook will not know any of that information and has to rely on only data collected from within Facebook itself (if you posted a picture of a dog, for example) to know that person has a dog and might be interested in products. As you can see, that data becomes FAR less powerful, especially with how much we do on our devices now.
The other way this change will impact marketers and business owners is conversion tracking. If someone opts out of having their data collected and ends up converting on your website for a purchase or form fill out, you might never know it. This problem with tracking is going to cause you to not necessarily know the true impact that your ads might be having – which is a big problem.
How bad is iOS 14 going to be for digital marketing?
Well… it’s not good. We can tell you that much.
Keep in mind that right now this only has to do with Apple devices. Facebook is still going to be collecting data from Android devices and desktop computers. Also, the data is only going to stop being collected if the person opts out, so there will still be some people that allow Facebook to collect their data.
That being said, experts are estimating that, specifically for Facebook, somewhere between 50%-75% of users are going to opt-out of tracking. With the fact that almost all of Facebook’s traffic comes from mobile AND that Apple has about a 40% market share, you can assume that about 25% of Facebook’s data is going to disappear overnight.
That might not sound like a lot, but think about what it might mean if it looks like you received 25% fewer purchases from Facebook or that your audiences all reduced 25% in size. When you really think about it, there are some real impacts there.
What our general thoughts on the impact of iOS 14 updates on social media marketing
There are a couple of really important things that we want people to know about the digital marketing space after this update.
Facebook Ads will still be effective, just in different ways
We don’t want this blog to be all doom and gloom. Facebook Ads (and other social advertising) are still going to be an effective way to market your goods and services. While you might not be able to track results in the same ways, you should still be able to get very good engagement and reach a lot of people at a generally low cost.
If you are a small business that is using Facebook Ads to supplement your overall strategy, not much is going to change for you. Just pay more attention to your data and monitor things to be sure you don’t need to make any changes.
It might be a good time to try new things
While we think that many people will still be pretty effective with social media advertising, it might be a good time to try some new things and diversify. Google, for example, is going to be a platform that will remain pretty much unchanged by this update. Google Ads is still extremely powerful and might be a good place to start if you are looking for other advertising options.
Pay attention to new Facebook tools
Facebook has long shown its interest in creating new tools for business owners. Now that Facebook may only be able to track data that happens on its own platform, there will be a renewed interest from them to keep people on the platform as much as possible.
We would expect more shopping and merchant processing systems to come very soon. We don’t know exactly what the next year has in store, but it should be very interesting.
Overall, these data security changes that are coming to Apple from iOS14 will have a pretty large impact not just on Facebook, but the entire social advertising space. While we would like to say that this impact is being overblown, it does look like we are all in for some pretty significant changes.
Smart marketers are going to prepare for this the best that they can and be ready to pivot. Try new things, and take a good look at their data over time to determine what the best move is going to be for them moving forward.
We wish we had a crystal ball to know exactly what is going to happen. Stay tuned with us and our blog to get more information as soon as it is available!