iOS 14 and Privacy: What it Means for Advertisers

The latest in the tug-of-war between consumer privacy and effective digital advertising pits Apple against Facebook, Google, and others. At stake for ad tech: significant revenue for ad publishers and app developers, effective ad results for advertisers, and more relevant ads for consumers. At stake for users: consumer privacy protection, the use of their behavioral data for marketing, and possibly – the future of “free” software. Apple’s pending release of iOS 14 is a strong consumer-privacy-first stance and a potential disruption to digital marketing as we know it. But what is the real impact for targeted digital advertising?

What is Changing?

In a nutshell, Apple devices running iOS 14 will now require explicit user opt-in to allow apps to track behaviors across sites using the Identifier for Advertising, or IDFA. The IDFA ties a unique, random number to a user’s device, allowing advertisers and data companies to evaluate ad interactions on an aggregated basis. Blocking user tracking by third parties has already been a staple for privacy-first browsers for some time (Apple’s own Safari, Chromium-based Brave, the Tor browser, and others), and has been offered as an opt-out model within mobile operating systems, as well. However, the shift to a more aggressive opt-in model is expected to be disruptive to app ad targeting and attribution.

Impacts on the the Facebook Ad Platform

Consumer Behavior Data

By losing access to information that links consumer behavior across experiences (apps, websites, etc.), Facebook and other ad networks will have less visibility into user actions outside of their own properties. This downturn in insights may decrease targeting effectiveness in aggregate over time.

Ad Targeting

Without distinct information about potential consumers, networks like Facebook must rely on non-personalized information when determining to whom to serve an ad. On iOS 14 apps and devices, consumers can expect their ads to be less personalized, and advertisers can expect the impact to be far lower as a result.

Attribution & Optimization

Not only is it difficult to determine who an ad is served to, Facebook algorithms will be blind to the impact of the ad, diminishing the ability to understand how many clicks resulted in installs or other conversions. Losing visibility into specific consumers who viewed the ad makes it far more difficult to determine which converted users saw the ad.

Specific Impacts for Facebook Advertisers

This may seem obvious, but this is (currently) only expected to impact consumers on iOS 14. While Apple is a dominant player in mobile devices in the U.S. (58.78% in the US versus Android’s 41.03%), they are less dominant worldwide (24.82% versus Android’s 74.6%). Is this a precedent that could expand, with broader adoption of Apple’s opt-in approach, or will we see networks maintain status quo with the opt-out standards already implemented by companies like Google and Microsoft? Only time will tell. 

Third-party Placements (via Facebook’s Audience Network)

Facebook uses its Audience Network (FAN) to provide advertising placement into non-Facebook properties. These ads are commonly served in apps and games, and are particularly effective because Facebook knows far more about a consumer than the app developer does, giving them an opportunity to target ads and attribute from where positive results originate. Some of the biggest changes to iOS 14 target app access to consumers’ IDFA, requiring an opt-in to use. Advertisers expect this to negatively impact Facebook’s ad effectiveness and behavior tracking in third-party platforms. Based on their tests, Facebook expects a 50% decrease in ad revenue due to a reduced ability to personalize and target ads. This seems to be the leading Facebook risk, and may become so ineffective as to be discontinued.

App Install Objectives

App installs, a type of conversion objective optimization, are reliant on a signal from a consumer device that the desired app has been installed (and possibly opened). This is expected to be significantly hindered for iOS app installs, driving attribution and targeting effectiveness downward. Facebook is asking developers to use a new version of the Facebook SDK to support the new Apple SKAdNetwork API, and also to create a dedicated iOS 14 ad account for these ad campaigns.

Lower Immediate Impact (or None)

Advertisers using Facebook’s First-party Placements

The bulk of Facebook’s advertisers today use Facebook’s first-party placements, which include Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, Marketplace. These placements reach consumers wherever they spend time on the Facebook platform: in-app or in-browser, mobile or desktop, and benefit from full targeting, attribution, and optimization as before. The only exception is for app install objectives.

What’s Next?

Facebook continues to invest in methods to improve advertising and conversion signal resiliency. Some of these, including the ability for businesses to provide external conversion data (such as business transaction matching), or server-side (rather than client-side) signals for consumer behavior, are unaffected by these changes. These require businesses to share first-party business data (activity, conversions) directly with Facebook for attribution and optimization. Using these within campaigns and to create custom and lookalike audiences remain very powerful tools for effective marketing.

At the same time, there is a looming specter of broader governmental regulations, following in the steps of GDPR and CCPA, which look to take a stance on consumer privacy and the use or sale of this data for advertising (or other means). Legislation is being considered or implemented in many U.S. states (Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and many more) and in other countries like India.

iOS 14 changes the game for monetizing in-app ad placements with their opt-in-required updates for tracking. App-centric campaigns (by objective or placement) are hardest hit, with tests showing a 50% revenue hit as targeting, attribution, and optimization become severely limited. Other first-party campaigns on Facebook’s platform should expect no immediate impact. The trend toward more consumer privacy is clear in products and legislation; what remains to be seen is whether the industry will embrace a new opt-in standard or stand by the current opt-out model

As a preferred Facebook Marketing Partner, Tiger Pistol is committed to helping our clients and their stakeholders navigate changes like these. Contact us today. 

Bob Govia is Director of Product Management at Tiger Pistol. 

What’s the Right Amount of Local for my Brand?

It feels like establishing a digital local presence has been the bread and butter of brick-and-mortar strategy for decades. With numerous specialized agencies and tools, listings management, Google Places, Facebook location Pages, etc., it can feel like there are a thousand different permutations you need to cycle your brand through with the aim of going local. 

Insurance brands can advertise locally through agents and advisors, as these representatives work out of local offices and service particular local areas.

“Going local” can mean many different things, depending on your industry and how you engage with customers in your buying flow. In some cases, like for a large national insurance brand, the value of locality is self-evident. The brand can advertise locally through agents and advisors, as these representatives work out of local offices and service particular local areas. For other industries, such as consumer products, “going local” might mean marketing through independent dealers or chain partner retailers. Even wholly digital brands, such as delivery service apps like Doordash and Uber Eats, have reason to drive value through local marketing of their partner merchants to their local consumers. The real power of local marketing lies in its flexibility to work across decentralized and centralized networks alike.

So while the buzz around “local” marketing may feel tired at times, brands continue to take the plunge. Yet it’s important to keep in mind that someone else’s version of “local” doesn’t have to be yours. Take Red Bull for example. Going local for them means hosting local events and building subcultural communities to promote them through. A quick search of their brand on Facebook reveals a distributed page presence, such as Red Bull Music, Red Bull Motorsports, Red Bull Gaming. From a marketing perspective, these fronts are reflective of their larger marketing tactics in play, as the product offered never changes. Red Bull simply sells Red Bull. 

Contrast that with a search for “Allstate Agents” on Facebook. You will see thousands of business pages returned from local Allstate agents.

Of course, retailers often use location pages, creating one for every one of their stores to contain their local presence and house store-specific information, namely geo-location, but also hours, WiFi names, and more that are location specific. Many chain stores now have a distributed store page presence across Facebook.

Facebook continues to be the first choice for social media marketing with a local presence. With the right tools, brands are able to take advantage of their local presence with paid media. It’s important to consider holistically where the value lies in paid media activations. At Tiger Pistol, we work with partners across many different verticals, from real estate, retail, consumer products, financial services, and insurance, in addition to digital re-sellers and franchise brands. Every one of our clients is taking advantage of a different flavor of local paid media.The core power of local marketing is truly it’s ability to connect brands, consumers, and everyone in between to holistic ROA-based advertising strategies.

For example, a global beauty consumer products brand leverages our technology to enable salons and retailers to promote themselves through the brand’s Facebook Business Page, with each merchant receiving their own individual campaign, designed and optimized to deliver sales to them. While also empowering their campaign through attachment and association with the global brand’s page. In effect, they use paid campaigns to take the brand to a local level, by featuring specific merchants in what would otherwise be a brand level campaign.

Tiger Pistol enabled Ben & Jerry’s to publish on-brand local social advertisements for scoop shops leveraging a local tie-in with Uber Eats delivery. Ads were geotargeted for Uber-Eats’ delivery area, with the call-to-action to “Order Now via Uber-Eats.” Each ad’s “Order Now” button drove to Uber-Eats’ online ordering page for the local Scoop Shop. 

In other cases, it’s about bringing together independent merchants through a distributed local presence, such as our work with AB-InBev where our technology allows merchants to connect their own business pages and receive curated ads, published through them.

There are even cases where the locality is no more than a deliberate messaging tactic. Our Real Estate partners often publish local recruitment ads through their brand Page. This gives them a means to propagate localized messaging quickly that both target hyper-locally and feature creative that is locally aware – allowing their brand to speak to local job applicants in particular locales and feature local office information as necessary. 

As you can see, there are many paths to “Go Local.” They may sometimes include multiple Pages and places, or locality can simply be a messaging tactic – a first touch engagement into a larger national buying path, when it’s important to feature your brand in a specific local community. The value is in being able to quickly get local when it makes sense to, and to complement national advertising efforts through local advertising dissemination. 

It’s easy to deploy a single national campaign. Anything more can be enormously time consuming without the right tools, and you may be missing out on not only happier consumers, but better performance too. Separate local campaigns and marketing tactics can offer marketing flexibility, such as when an insurance brand uses its corporate website data to retarget consumers through a local agent campaign or when digital brands leverage the locality of their partners to distribute their message into particular locales. “Going Local” is about building holistic, responsive strategies that connect consumers to buying paths and speak to consumers more personally, in recognition of where they live and shop. Beyond a closer consumer connection, local marketing can very much also be a means for brands to enable and empower their retail, merchant, and account partners who they rely on to sell their products. 

Let’s talk about a local strategy that best fits your brand. Contact us today!

Chris Mayer, a Solutions Engineer at Tiger Pistol, specializes in helping digital agencies, SMB resellers, and global brands build scaled Facebook advertising solutions with an emphasis on local activation.