Jun 9, 2021

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Team Talk: iOS 14.5 and the changing landscape of Data Privacy

Apple has been causing shockwaves across the digital marketing world in the last number of weeks as it announced a new data tracking prompt as part of its latest operating system, iOS 14.5. In this Team Talk, DMI tutor Sean Kenny takes the opportunity to see the current lay of the land where data and data privacy is going. 

This DMI team talk was streamed live on our FacebookYouTube and LinkedIn. Keep an eye on our platforms for the next topics we'll cover! 

Recent changes to data privacy and collection

Cookies are used to record website users' data, such as:

  • Time spent on website
  • Link clicks
  • Shopping cart

First-party Cookies are those created by the website creator or developer on that site.

Third Party Cookies - the subject of most privacy regulations - are those created to track what consumers do when they leave the site.

Up until 2018, websites and those dealing with data privacy operated on the concept of “Implied consent”: that users ackowledged through their presence that they understood their data was being tracked and collected.

When GDPR took effect in May 2018, one of the key elements around it “The Cookie Law” - originally adopted as a EU directive back in May 2011 - came further to the fore.

Another recent announcement came from Google who plan to update their own privacy approach in 2022.

The Apple iOS 14.5 Update

Since April 26, 2021 Apple users are now given an App Tracking Transparency notification for each App on their device which gives the user the ability to opt out of having their data tracked across platforms. In other words, they can opt out of (Identifier for Advertisers) IDFA-based tracking.

Apps in the Apple iStore will now need to be compliant with Apple's new policy and allow the user to opt out of tracking in order to remain accessible on iPhone, iPad and Apple TV.

Apple is essentially throwing down the gauntlet with its placing center-stage the data privacy concerns of its users. Of all the social platforms that are affected by this change, it is a particularly big deal for Facebook as it affects their whole revenue model.

How does this affect Facebook and Instagram?

Team Talk: iOS 14.5 and the changing landscape of Data Privacy

Quite simply, if you are an iOS user who has opted out of cross platform tracking, there will be no way you can be retargeted on Facebook with a sponsored ad. There will be no more third party tracking of users that opt out. 

This will affect Facebook ads in many ways:

  • Retargeting Ads
  • Restrict Data available to advertisers
  • Data Collection for Lookalike Audiences

This is the type of notification that Apple users will see the first time going back into Facebook after the update. 

Team Talk: iOS 14.5 and the changing landscape of Data Privacy

Facebook took out (with no irony) full-page newspaper ads contesting the changes in the major US daillies, with the message that small to medium businesses would have their very business models threatened.

The ad focuses its message that taking away the ability for advertisers to retarget will impact business models, for small and medium sized businesses. These will then to put up their own paywalls to deal with the changes. That is Facebook's argument anyway.

Team Talk: iOS 14.5 and the changing landscape of Data Privacy

Following on from the advert, Facebook started to prompt users to "show personalized ads and keep Facebook free", implying that by opting out you might be forcing a change in the platform. It's yet to be seen if this is a message Facebook will speak about publicly, how this could come about and so on.

How does this affect digital marketers?

Apple's update is a direct threat to the “personalized ads” model in key markets: the product a consumer has been viewing or might view, based on the data so far gleaned. 

96% of iPhone users in the US are known to have opted out of app tracking since iOS 14.5 launched. 

Retargeting currently accounts for less than 5% percent of Facebook’s but given that the platform has a $84 billion annual ad revenue, that is a significant 5%.

And that's just retargeting. The effects of a whole market of device users opting out will have other ramifications yet to be seen.    

iOS accounts for 27% of all mobile users on average worldwide and almost 60% of mobile users in a developed market like the United States, and even higher in Japan. These are the markets with high spending power and relevance to the growth of social commerce.

Because Facebook will still collect information directly from consumers while on their platform, the following elements won't be affected by the update.

  • Facebook/Instagram Insights
  • Facebook Ads Manager
  • Ads targeting by demographic or Interests etc
  • Any retargeting Ads which target Android Users

Don't forget that you can check under Facebook Ads Manager whether your audience is Apple or Android based.  


Sean Kenny
Sean Kenny

Sean Kenny is a Tutor at the Digital Marketing Institute and has worked within the field of digital marketing for over 5 years. He has worked for one of the largest display and banner advertising networks in the world as well as one of the most popular social media platforms.

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