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May 21, 2021 - By Barron Rosborough

How to Survive iOS 14: The Complete Guide

For the past few months, there has been a lot of buzz in the online business community around Apple’s iOS 14 update. Many advertisers speculate that the privacy update could pose an existential threat to how brands and small businesses promote their products online. 

On April 26, Apple finally rolled out the privacy update in the form of a pop-up that asks users if they want an app to track their activity across the company’s websites and apps. 

The majority of Apple users are expected to prefer that they not be tracked. In doing so, advertisers will have fewer opportunities to place the right ad to the right buyer using the most effective platform. 

What’s Changing?

Apple’s iOS 14.5 update introduced more than 70 new features and some quality of life changes. But the most debated change from the update is a new privacy feature called App Tracking Transparency (ATT). This new feature gives Apple users a choice if they want to be tracked across websites and apps or not. 

As you know, every Apple phone has a unique Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA), which is a cookie. For years, apps and websites have used IDFA to target and assess the efficacy of ads on a consumer level across all devices. Apps can even request or buy user data from other platforms to perform a more targeted ad campaign. 

But with the new privacy update, Apple now requires the app developer to ask for your permission. Similar to other privacy prompts, the query appears for each app. To further understand why this update is a game-changer for many advertisers, let’s look back at what online advertising looks like before and after the update. 

iOS Before the 14.5 Update

Long before the Privacy update, Apple’s efforts to limit marketers’ monitoring make it more difficult for the advertising industry, forcing advertisers to rely on inefficient data sources to pinpoint consumers.

The company has improved its users’ online privacy, most notably by restricting what data marketers monitoring various data points can see. For example, intelligent Tracking Security in Safari has helped ensure more privacy by making it more difficult to observe individual users.

The previous iOS13 also allows users to disable or limit ad tracking of apps. On its launch, nearly 4 of 5 users stopped background tracking on their phones, making it more difficult for advertisers to perform targeted advertising. Ultimately, it affected the location advertising market. 

iOS After the 14.5 Update

Apple has implemented an ATT in the App Store with iOS 14.5. Apps that fail to comply with the prompt will be removed from the App Store. Reduced monitoring features and personalization for apps would be long-term consequences.

Apple has stated that the new regulations would affect other app practices, such as sharing location data with data brokers and adding secret trackers for ad analytics, which are also possible. According to some advertising industry experts, a substantial number of consumers will opt out of monitoring.

This latest update represents a significant advancement for consumer privacy because it allows users to control their mobile app data and how companies like Facebook and Google use it to target advertising. Simultaneously, the decision has enraged app developers and tech firms who have relied on the consumer data reservoir for years and fear being cut off from it soon.

Why it’s Important to Advertisers?

Digital marketers who depend on iPhone apps to monitor and target consumers who fall into their target audience will be impacted significantly by iOS 14.5’s release. 

When it comes to campaign management, each iOS for Facebook Ads account will be limited to a maximum of five ad sets each per its nine campaigns. Furthermore, for iOS 14 App Install and App Events promotions, lift calculation will be unavailable.

There will be a three-day pause in the display of data from iOS 14.5 users who submit ad reporting data. Because of Apple’s PCM (Private Click Measurement) protocol, this is the case. PCM, as previously mentioned, has the ability to limit and postpone data access. Additionally, it would also be challenging to monitor users in various geographical locations.

For optimization, iOS 14.5, there will be an eight-pixel event limit per domain. This means that an advertiser can only use a maximum of eight conversion events per domain for optimization purposes. As a result, the new iOS update could obstruct optimization, especially if there are insufficient data points.

Consequently, the design of the Facebook Business Manager interface will alter. Since Facebook cannot provide a separate GUI for Android and iOS, something must be done.

Everything You Need to Know for Facebook Ads

Facebook is not pleased. The company relies on user monitoring to serve targeted advertising, and this move could make it more difficult for Facebook, which owns four of the most popular iPhone applications.

Facebook says it will introduce several new measurement protocols, like Apple’s SKAdNetwork API and Facebook’s Aggregated Event Measurement, to help reduce the predicted effects. According to Facebook, these elements will continue to enable campaign results to be measured – but only to a limited extent. Those restrictions will most notably extend to app install campaigns, pixel monitoring, and attribution windows, all of which will be limited in some way.

Moreover, Facebook also says it’s working on innovative ways to build ad monitoring and data tools that are more in line with Apple’s increased emphasis on data privacy.

What Actions to Take to Adapt to the iOS 14.5 Update

1) Check your domains on Facebook.

There are many options for doing so, including adding a DNS TXT entry to the DNS record and confirming that you are the owner of that specific domain. You can also upload an HTML provided by Facebook into your web directory. 

2) Carefully choose the eight-event conversions you will track  

Since events that can be tracked will be limited, you need to decide which ones are the most important for your campaign. Much like domain verification, only the pixel partner and not the partner agency can do this. 

3) Compare monthly and weekly attribution 

Marketers now need to calculate the effect that the attribution window change will have on their business before Facebook deletes the 28-day attribution. Since reporting will be shorter to just one-day post view and seven-day post-click, try to keep track of the sales from the eight-day to the 28th day.  

4) Find a cookie tracking alternative

If you’re a digital marketer, you can also help with retargeting by seeking individuals with any number of user-specific identifiers, such as email addresses, phone numbers, and so on.

You should promote site login by enhanced authenticated experiences or by providing users rewards for logging in to increase persistent IDs.

Google Ads: All You Need to Know

According to Google, Apple’s ATT adjustments will limit insight into key indicators that demonstrate how advertisements drive conversions (such as app installs and sales), as well as have an effect on how advertisers value and bid on ad impressions. 

As a result, after Apple’s ATT policies take effect, app publishers may see a substantial drop in Google ad revenue on iOS. However, Google assured that they are improving SKAdNetwork, so advertisers can accurately measure their campaign on iOS14. 

Search Ads

While search ad performance should be unaffected, data loss and understanding can occur in Google Display, Discovery, and YouTube campaigns that use interest-based Targeting. Google Universal App Campaigns, which promote iOS apps and target iOS users, are one form of Google campaign that is especially vulnerable.

Display Ads

You’ll find it more complicated if you’re running display campaigns. This is because you would be less able to target individuals based on their past behavior or characteristics. Instead, the targeting would be limited to the current page they’re on.

What Actions to Take to Tackle the iOS 14.5 Update

  1. You must switch to the most recent version of Google Analytics for Firebase. To allow SKAdNetwork support, Google recommends that advertisers using Google Ads upgrade to the most current version of Google Analytics for Firebase.
  2. Monitor campaigns and change bids as needed. Advertisers who use Google Ads on mobile devices should keep an eye on iOS campaign success and distribution as the rollout unfolds and adjust bids and budgets as necessary to meet their objectives.
  3. You must obtain permission for App Tracking Transparency to update your Info.list to add the NSUser Tracking Usage Description key with a custom message describing your usage.

Everything You Need to Know for Snapchat Ads

Snapchat’s stance on the matter is that they will show users the monitoring prompt (“modal”) and continue to collect identifiers like IDFA for Opt-in events. Snapchat says that it supports increased privacy and plans to comply with any requirements imposed by the iOS 14 change.

The multimedia messaging app has acknowledged that the update can impact campaign measurement. They also rolled out several iOS 14 App Preparation Tutorials as well as iOS 14 Web Preparation Tutorials

Over several months, the platform will assess the effect of the changes in real-time, communicate with stakeholders, mobile measurement partners, and advertisers, and include a rundown of potential product impacts and other suggestions.

Snapchat iOS 14.5 Update Checklist

Advertisers may use Snapchat’s tools, services, and guides to adapt their marketing campaigns on iOS devices in order to comply with the iOS 14 privacy changes and maximize promotions by following the correct steps.

All privacy changes will be taken into account for all advertisement solutions on Snapchat, and these tools and services were built using the same methodology.

  • Make an ad account only for your iOS 14+ promotions.
  • Set up Snap App ID and SKAdNetwork V2 and start testing with a ten ad max.
  • Configure the SKAdNetwork conversion values schema in your MMP. Once available, enable it in the Business Manager.
  • Make Lookalike Audiences for your Mobile Custom Audiences.

Snapchat details the updates to its processes in numerous guides and notes, including the lack of MMP user-level reporting for those who opt-out, as well as the elimination of 28-day and hourly attribution windows.

Everything You Need to Know for Pinterest Ads

Pinterest has added a new interest iOS 14 widget to the home screen that provides users with quick access to new content in categories such as beauty, fashion, food, home décor, and quotes.

The company also said that they stopped collecting IDFAs in the latest version of their app on Apple’s iOS. Pinterest has also decided to stop using IDFAs in mobile app install advertising and instead concentrate on other performance-based items that help Pinners move from inspiration to action.

The image sharing and social media service also expect a minor effect on campaign results, and no changes to campaign configuration are anticipated.

Pinterest’s Advice to Advertisers

For now, Pinterest recommends that advertisers using their platform should monitor performance to come up with the most optimal steps following the update. One of their recommendations is to review ad performance in Ads Manager and segment them through device type. 

When checking for advertising errors, they advocate focusing on specific campaign objectives such as:

  • Monitor video views and brand awareness by optimizing your bids or budget so that they align with your business goals. 
  • Leverage automatic bidding while keeping your current campaign setup. Pinterest already has algorithms in place that can drive more clicks to your ads based on your budget.

How to Review Ad Level or Ad Group Performance via Segment by Device 

  1. Go to your Pinterest business account and log in (opens in a new window)
  2. Pick Reporting from the Ads menu at the top of your computer.
  3. Ad classes or Ads can be accessed by clicking on them.
  4. Click Targeting and pick Device from the drop-down menu above the data table.

Everything You Need to Know for Amazon Ads

When customers log into the Amazon shopping app, Amazon will continue to gather information about them. In terms of Amazon, the movie boils down to who we will target and serve ads to in-app. 

Advertisers would not see a change in traffic coming straight from Amazon’s website or mobile app. Since Amazon owns their website and app, they collect and store all of the first-party audience and customer info. This will go on indefinitely. There will be no effect on Amazon Sponsored Products, Sponsored Brands, or Sponsored Display advertising.

The Amazon DSP (Demand Side Platform), on the other hand, is a different story. The elimination of IDFAs would directly affect DSP advertisers because advertising on this network can be released on non-Amazon websites and apps.

What Actions Should Amazon Advertisers Take 

The ads ecosystem on Amazon isn’t affected by the iOS14.5 update since everything happens in the app. However, the update is expected to affect about eight percent of all Amazon DSP traffic, so while it won’t affect the vast majority of customers, it’s still something to keep in mind if you’re looking to invest or raise your investment in the demand-side platform.

Some ad agencies expect a volume shift instead of a decrease in ad performance. In-app placements are seen to decline as advertisers will find it more challenging to maintain their previous performance. 

The most direct approach will be to be nimble and adapt on the impacted scale. Advertisers may transition from mobile iOS apps into Android and mobile web inventory where Amazon data can still be used to sway placement based on Amazon’s audiences, which define both in-market and lifestyle audiences compatible with a brand.

The New Challenges That Advertisers Face

While some platforms, like Facebook, face dire consequences because of the update, some platforms aren’t affected by it. However, advertisers still have to ease the transition using proven solutions to help them achieve high-impact results. 

Below are some of the challenges that advertisers must overcome to survive the iOS 14 update:

  1. The emphasis would change from behavioral to contextual Targeting. Some marketers worry that if they don’t have access to user-level behavioral data, they won’t be able to target consumers with the same precision – and performance – that they’ve come to expect. Behavioral strategies can no longer provide a strong foundation for ad targeting for iOS users who opt-out of sharing their data.
  2. The difficulty would change to determining what needs to be assessed. Advertisers would get one postback per account, per app, and these postbacks could take up to 24 hours to arrive. These anomalies and missing values would require adjustments to Return On Advertising Spend (ROAS) and other main metrics in the short term. To more reliably extrapolate ROAS values in the long run, marketers would need to classify earlier events that correspond with down-funnel events.
  3. Finally, how do you effectively explain to your users that giving their data to you will be beneficial to them? The only way to get around this new restriction by being open and honest about your privacy practices. To create confidence among your mobile app users, respond as graciously as possible.

What You Need to Know About SKAd Network

Apple launched the SKAd Network, and it will not share any consumer or device-level data with advertisers. Simply put, it will give Apple power over the attribution data that is passed back to Registered Ad Networks.

This is less than optimal since SKAd Network has limitations such as:

  • Enable the only attribution based on clicks.
  • Batch conversions with a 24-48-hour latency are available. There will be no date stamp parameter.
  • Limit the number of Campaign IDs per ad network to 100.
  • There are no attribution evaluation windows (1D, 7D, 28D, etc.) available, so all app conversions will be attributed using a 30-60 day click-through attribution window.
  • Age, gender, and other demographic characteristics will no longer be available.
  • Some platforms will use probabilistic data; see the platform recommendations section below for more details.
  • Due to the sole emphasis on last-click attribution, deferred deep linking will no longer be assisted.

Other Things that Advertisers Can Do

It’s important to note that AAT will only be available to Apple users who choose to update their device to iOS 14.5. Moreover, the opt-out rate or those who don’t want their IDFA to be open to apps is still unknown. With that in mind, advertisers need to scrutinize their data in the next few weeks to understand how the update will affect their bottom line. 

Consequently, you need to monitor the ad performance on iOS devices that will have access to the iOS 14 update. In short, advertisers will surely be busy coming up with new strategies so that they can fine-tune their campaigns. 

For now, below are some of the initial steps you can do:

  • It would help if you planned by looking at other tactics to compare against your ads’ current success levels. To include in your Facebook ad research, think about various bid styles, audience definitions, and events.
  • Avoid using Facebook to monitor your website’s conversions. Instead, use the monitoring system built into your website platform to track where visitors come from and what they do on your site.
  • In your conversion flow, add an extra landing page where users are asked to include their complete names, as well as their email addresses. Then, using that data, build a custom audience from your customer list on Facebook.


The iOS14 update and its impact on different social media and advertising platforms are still evolving. It’s just been a few days since it was rolled out, and the data on how it has impacted the advertising industry will probably be available in the coming weeks. 

The best thing to do now is to be proactive and develop strategies to adapt and survive in this brave new world of paramount user privacy. Moreover, it’s imperative to properly communicate and be transparent with your customers about your data policy and why it benefits both parties.