How iOS 14.5 is Impacting Digital Marketing

On April 27th Apple released its newest update, 14.5 for iPhone. Normally an update includes performance boosts, updated features, and new emojis. This release is shaking things up with how apps on the App Store track, manage, and collect user data. Here’s a breakdown of what led to this change and how marketers can adapt moving forward.

Digital Privacy

  • Not as free as it seems
  • Free use in exchange for user data
  • Ad revenue jackpot

Have you ever heard the saying, “There is no such thing as a free lunch”? The internet works in a similar way; not everything is as free as it may seem. Many websites use user data to generate ad revenue to cover operational costs. Facebook, for example, a free social media networking site, has the largest number of daily users than any other website. They collect information from users who willingly provide information about themselves and their likes within their personal profiles. Facebook then uses and sells that information so businesses can buy ads and target a specific range of people within their targeted audience.

When people initially sign up for a social media profile, their thoughts are on signing up to a network that allows them to communicate with friends and family. In most cases, they are not thinking about how they are providing their personal data in exchange for free use of a website. Businesses pay a lot of money to be able to benefit from Facebook’s enormous network.

However, data privacy goes deeper than that, and Facebook has been in the headlines and in hot water a lot lately due to alleged misuse of user data. Due to the negative reactions surrounding that topic, many big tech companies like Apple, are shifting their perspectives to be more transparent and doing what they can to protect the data of the user and not those buying and selling ads.

What’s Changing

  • Free websites or websites full of ads
  • Opt out from website tracking
  • Fewer personalized ads

People don’t want to have a free internet that is full of ads everywhere you click. Many websites will lead you to believe that they can only operate if they have ads or receive frequent donations. However, it is in the user’s best interest to know what data is being collected and how it is being used. This is why the EU created the General Data Protection Regulation in 2018 to help internet users understand how their data is being used by a website and providing them an option to opt out.

Websites like Facebook often use cookies to track which websites a user frequents and then shares ads to that user selected by their algorithm. These types of ads are called “retargeting ads” and are also commonly used by Google. These advertisements aren’t inherently bad, although the user should be aware that their personal information is being tracked. Facebook does include a convoluted way to opt out of having as much data collected. However, Apple’s newest update it making it much easier. Users will receive a prompt asking whether to allow a website to track activity across other companies, apps, and websites and providing an option to ask the app not to track. The amount of accessible personalized data from iPhone users could drop from 70% to 10%.

If a user opts out of sharing personal data, they will still get ads −they will just be less relevant. However, that means the user isn’t giving away their information for free. Because this change does hurt the income websites make, some will use prompts to guilt users into sharing more data by saying, “help keep this site free” and “you will have more relevant ads.”

How Facebook is Changing

Facebook announced in April that it will be getting rid of the Facebook pixel used for targeting user traffic and insight analytics. This newest iOS 14.5 change by Apple may make it more difficult for marketers to target their audiences directly through Facebook; however, Facebook ads are not going anywhere. Facebook has always had the slogan, “it’s free and always will be.” However, in early May, the slogan on the signup page has changed to, “it’s quick and easy.”

The future of advertising is changing, and marketers need to start thinking now of ways to adapt. The end users have a right to know how much of their personal information is being shared and should also have the ability to opt out. Should social media sites pay the users to access their data? Should users have to pay a subscription for a social network that is free of data mining and advertisements? Or should marketers go back to the drawing board for new advertising techniques that do not involve the internet? What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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