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iOS14: Understanding the impact on marketing

Watch the webinar and read the transcript below.


What we discussed

Since last year when Apple announced their new App Tracking Transparency Framework (ATT) that will roll out with their iOS 14 update, businesses and advertising platforms and services have been scrambling to figure out what this means for them.

To be honest, it’s a bit unclear to us all. But, we’ve brought in 2 very knowledgeable guests who follow its progress incredibly closely to help answer your questions about the iOS 14 update and ATT Framework.

Watch our fireside chat with Elad Levy, co-founder of Fixel, and Maurice Rahmey, co-founder of Disruptive Digital. They discuss what we know so far, and what we can do to prepare your advertising and marketing strategies.

Tommy: Why does Apple's ATT & PCM framework matter to everyone here?

Elad: Apple is basically trying to protect the privacy of their users, and they’re trying to force a standard on the advertising community which they believe is beneficial for their users. But at the end of the day the advertising community, with Facebook being the most vocal about it, are opposing this because they’re saying this will actually degrade performance.

The key [limitation that comes with this new framework] is, the way attribution is done/the way that we’re actually able to report back on conversions, campaigns, users - all of that is going to be limited greatly. And we’re going to be in the dark with how our campaigns are performing.
What we should actually be concerned about is the change, that’s actually happening as a response, by Facebook with the AEM(Aggregated Event Measurement).

Tommy: Why is this different from other privacy updates such as GDPR or California Privacy?

Maurice:When you think about some of the other policies that have passed, for example GDPR which also required opt-in from a user, the big difference is that in those particular situations there were government mandates and regulations that websites and applications had to follow in order to make sure that they were compliant.

As a result of that, if you think about every website that you go to or every app that you go to the messaging and the narrative is different, and the way that a website or an app tried to get you to accept those terms the opt-in was a lot higher because you could provide the language explaining how your data was going to be used.

The big difference here is that, in Apple’s case, they’re controlling what that language looks like and how that prompt shows up. And so, instead of it being a big green accept button - in this case Apple is using more loaded language saying,this app wants to track you on other apps and websites. And as a result of how the language is set up and the fact that advertisers don’t necessarily have control over how that prompt shows up, what’s going to end up happening is that we expect those opt-out rates to be far higher than what you see with, for example, a GDPR.

So we don’t know what those opt-out rates are going to look like until this hits, but, for example, Bumble mentioned that they’re expecting about a 10-20% opt-in rate. So if the opt-in rates are going to be at those levels it’s going to have massive implications on the reporting, tracking, optimization, and measurement of how advertisers move forward once this hits.

Elad: There is a recent report that was released today (April 8, 2021) by Appsflyer that says that they’re seeing higher than expected opt-in rates, about 41% - which is good news. And maybe that will continue and some of the madness will be put aside.

Tommy: A lot has been said about the impact on Facebook, but which platforms will be impacted? And how are they reacting to it?

Elad: I think the key thing to understand is Apple is trying to create a standard for the advertising community, and they’re trying to get everyone on board with that standard. And Facebook is trying to beat them to market - they’re trying to get AEM out there and it’s not meant to be used by Facebook only. And hopefully, everyone will tag along, Pinterest and Bing and whoever else. So that’s what’s happening in the background.

Currently, everybody is quite silent about it; no one has really been standing up and opposing Apple in any way besides Facebook because, in practice, they won’t be damaged immediately and this is a longer play that they’re sitting on the fence and trying to understand how this will pan out.

We have seen that Google is driving some changes. They have changed the way that they’re tracking and they’ve moved away from 3rd party cookies to first-party cookies. … But they have introduced FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts), which, in my opinion, it’s really a premature product [and] it’s not even yet GDPR compliant [so not ready to be launched].

Maurice: It’s been interesting, because of the fact that some of these other platforms haven’t been as vocal, I’ve been hearing from a few different people well, we’ll just diversify and go do these other channels. But, in reality, everybody is going to be impacted.

The reason why you’re hearing more from Facebook v.s. from the other channels is that, in a lot of ways, Facebook has the most to lose. They have over 8 million advertisers, over 5 million sites use the Facebook pixel, and it’s estimated that about 70% of the spend that Facebook sees comes from direct response. So to put that into context, Snapchat, for example, has less than 200,000 sites that have the Snap pixel and Twitter accounts for about 15% direct response advertising.

And so what’s been interesting to see is how these other platforms are responding and just because maybe they’re not being as vocal they are still making changes. For example, in the Snapchat situation, they are still making a lot of modifications on the advertising side to help ensure that they’re going to be compliant with Apple’s changes when it comes to SKAdNetwork.

For example, in that particular instance, you’re going to be limited in the number of campaigns that you can run to iOS devices or applications. So what that means is that Snapchat is limiting the number of campaigns an advertiser can actually run on their platform.

Secondarily, we spoke about Facebook’s AEM - Snapchat is developing its own version of AEM called Advanced Conversions. So they’re still making a lot of these changes…

So these other platforms are dealing with the same challenges and this is going to be an industry-wide challenge that we’re going to be facing whether you’re an app developer or whether you’re a website advertiser.

Tommy: A lot has been said about Apple’s new prompt that asks users' permission. Can you explain a bit about what’s the impact of it being an opt-in instead of an opt-out?

Maurice: When a user decides to opt-out what’s basically going to happen is that you’re no longer going to be able to track that user at an individual level. Whether it’s on a website or whether it’s in an app.

Your data is going to be restricted, aggregated, and delayed from an ads reporting perspective. So what that means is that, instead of that data [of what you do in another app after you click on an ad from the Facebook app] getting passed back directly to Facebook and being able to get a lot of that information instantaneously, what’s going to instead happen is that the data’s going to be delayed and so it may take, as Elad said earlier, up to 3 days to actually know whether or not a user actually converted. And you’re not going to be able to actually see if an ad drove it because instead it’s going to be aggregated.

Elad: At the end of the day, if you’re opting-out on your app on Facebook and then moving over to a website, then you will get some limitations but these limitations are looser, in a sense, than what would happen on the apps.

You will get reporting on the single most important event, and that will be tied back to an actual account. You can change that in your settings to be even more strict, but you [as a user] would have to actively go in and change that. You probably won’t be able to add [this data] into any remarketing audiences or whatever else.

Tommy: What will be the impact on Facebook’s (and other channels) ability to drive conversions effectively?

Elad: Conversion data is one way that Facebook feeds the algorithm; they need to know who converted so they can drive more people of similar traits back into your campaigns. Beyond that they need to understand which people went to your website and took some meaningful actions - like started a checkout or added something to their cart - and having that kind of data not available will also impact these campaigns. So that’s one level of granularity that we’re losing.

The other level is that we’re getting reporting back only on the campaign level. So whatever happened further down, on the ad level or even on the ad set level, is going to be modeled. And they’re going to try and trickle that down to the ad set level and say, Ok this ad set has driven this click and conversion and this hasn’t. And this modeling is going to probably result in poor results.

So we’re expecting things to deteriorate. And optimization is going to be down, for sure.

Tommy: Should marketers adjust the way they look at and assess their performance data?

Maurice: What we’ve been doing is we’ve shifted our targets towards a stricter model. So the numbers are lower, the ROAS targets are lower but the windows with which we’re working in are actually tighter. And so we’ve been working and training [our clients] them on getting onto these new numbers, but at the same time in order to ease that comfort level, we’re not just reporting on what the new normal is we’re showing them that that’s translating back into where it would theoretically be if we were continuing to use the old window (while we have access to it).

We need to build that comfort and that ability that a client knows, or an advertiser knows those numbers are actually coming in very closely aligned with where things would have been in that other environment.

I think one of the things that are going to be interesting for agencies - which I think is actually going to be a good thing in this particular situation - is, I think sometimes agencies or advertisers might rely on data that was correlated versus causal.

Tommy: What are some things we still don’t know about the upcoming changes?

Elad: I think there is a lack of clarity about what happens when the user opts out. What happens if I’m setting a campaign to optimize or add to the cart?

Myself, I’m still unclear as to how this will behave. So I still don’t know what I don’t know.

Maurice: My biggest unknown and concern is what the opt-out rate is going to be, particularly on Facebook and Instagram because, at the end of the day, so much of what happens here is going to be dependent on what those opt-out rates look like. If that ends up being closer to 10% opt-in, things are going to be a lot more difficult for advertisers.