How to prepare for Apple’s privacy changes

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In the past year Apple have updated their iOS operating system with new privacy controls designed to limit marketers from tracking iPhone users.

Both iOS 14 and iOS 15 introduced new customer privacy features, including a pop-up notification from apps to ask users whether it is ok to collect their personal data, and Mail Privacy Protection, which prevents senders from seeing if and when a recipient opens an email in Apple Mail and hides their IP address. 

Apple’s goal is to give its customers more control over whether personal data collected by apps is shared with third parties.

How will this affect businesses?

The big fear is that these changes will make advertising less effective. For platforms such as Facebook, which rely on data to drive targeted campaigns and sell their ad inventory, the results could be significant, with Meta already set to lose billions.

Apple’s App Tracking Transparency Framework is the main source of this worry, with iPhone users now prompted to grant apps permission to track activity across apps and websites owned by other companies. 

This Framework will apply to all apps in the App Store, including Facebook-owned apps like Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp. Additionally, it will impact apps that use Facebook’s Audience Network for monetisation.

Facebook pixels have also been limited to eight pixel objectives on a single domain (before iOS14 you could have as many as you wanted), significantly reducing the amount of data marketers can collect, report on, and use to refine campaigns.

With Facebook limited in the behaviour it can track, its targeting becomes less accurate and the quality of its data is reduced. This could lead to less effective, and more expensive, advertising in the future. Oh, and reporting will be less accurate, too.

What about email marketing?

iOS 15, which was released in September 2021, built on the foundation laid by the App Tracking Transparency Framework with changes to email privacy. This included Mail Privacy Protection, explained above, and Hide My Email, which lets users share unique, random email addresses that forward to their personal inbox anytime they wish to keep their personal email address private.

In the short-term, marketers fear that this will cause open rates to decline, a reduction in data quality (as email open activity is spread across multiple contacts with Hide My Email), and that IP-based location-oriented emails will be less effective. 

Taken together, all of these changes could have a significant impact on your business if social and email form a key part of your revenue-generating strategy. We can help you to reduce their impact. 

How to navigate these changes

While the privacy updates might be enough to cause you some sleepless nights, there is no need to panic. Use the tips below to keep your paid campaigns on track: 

Optimise Facebook pixel usage

As mentioned above, Facebook will now only receive eight pixel events per domain. This means you need to choose the eight events that are most important to you, and will drive the most business. 

Get clear on what events are most important for you to track. Is this a form completion? A product sale? Abandoned baskets? Facebook will only report on the highest priority events, and any ads that do not include these will be paused. 

Segment your audience

The iOS update only affects Apple users, which means Facebook can still track Android devices across the internet. Android behavioural tracking is also not limited to a certain number of objectives, which means data gathered will be more accurate. 

By targeting Android users exclusively, or splitting your campaigns by device, you can get a clearer picture of what is working and what isn’t. 

Verify your domain

Facebook is cracking down on the misuse of ad accounts. By verifying your domain, you ensure the data received by your pixels is accurately delivered to Facebook, making your campaign reporting more accurate. 

Use independent tracking software

If you are already seeing some issues with your Facebook campaigns, now might be the time to explore alternative ways to test performance. Consider different bid types, audience definitions, and events to include in your tests.

Another option to consider is using your website platform’s tracking system to monitor visitors and conversions, rather than Facebook. We can help you do this quickly and easily with HubSpot

Update Facebook SDK

The Apple updates will affect how your Facebook ads perform in-app. By updating your Facebook SDK to 8.1 or 9 you can continue to serve personalised ads to iOS app users, as well as optimise and measure app installs and app events. 

Enable Value Optimisation 

With less trackable users on the platform, Facebook has made some changes to Value Optimisation (VO) – a useful function which allows you to bid for the ‘highest value’ users, or those most likely to take a desired action.

In order to use VO, you must satisfy the following criteria: 

  • Have an active pixel, product catalog, or Software Development Kit (SDK)
  • Prioritise purchase events
  • Have more than 100 optimised purchases in the previous 10 days
  • Have more than 10 distinct purchase amounts in the last 7 days

The bottom line for marketers

Seems like a lot to take in, doesn’t it?

In reality, these changes are nothing new. Marketing is always evolving and it’s extremely important to stay the course when it does. As always, focus on your customer, focus on creating great content and engaging experiences, and always be mindful of your metrics and where you are getting the best ROI. Undertaking an audit of your downstream marketing processes is a fantastic way to begin forming a new strategy for future success.

Apple’s new policies have the potential to take a bite out of your budget, but they don’t have to. We have ex-Google consultants and Facebook specialists to keep your campaigns on track and your ROAS where you need it to be. To find out more about our PPC and paid advertising services, get in touch today.


Contact the team at Cognition Agency for all your digital marketing requirements.