Apple’s iOS 14.5 Tracking Changes: Everything You Need to Know

April 9, 2022

Apple’s iOS 14.5, iPadOS 14.5, and tvOS 14.5 bring a gamut of new features, including new emoji, improved Face ID unlocking, and support for PS4 and Xbox Series X controllers. Apple has also included game-changing tracking changes, which require apps to get user permission through a pop-up before they can track them or access their devices. Tracking refers to linking device or user data collected from an app with device or user data from other company websites and apps for advertising and analytics purposes.

This new privacy feature is an important milestone for privacy rights since it gives users more control over their personal data. However, it’s also been a source of frustration for businesses. Facebook, for example, has criticized Apple’s new system for making it too expensive and difficult for companies to target customers.

Read on to learn more about Apple’s iOS 14.5 tracking changes and how businesses can take advantage of these new developments.

What Has Changed With Apple’s iOS 14.5?

Before iOS 14.5, app developers could use a range of technologies, including Apple’s Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA), to track consumer data from inside an app. Advertising firms could also use this data to identify information (i.e., age, gender, location, browsing habits) about users and target particular user cohorts with advertisements.

Once Apple updated their devices to iOS 14.5, every single business that wants to track user data across apps and websites now has to explicitly ask for permission using a standardized pop-up that includes:

  • A prompt asking users if they want the business to track their activity across other companies’ websites and apps.
  • An “Allow” button. If a user clicks this, everything will work as it did before iOS 14.5.
  • An “Ask App Not to Track” button. If a user clicks this button, the developer of the app won’t be able to track the user using data in that app or sell that data to other companies.

Pros and Cons of iOS 14.5 Tracking Changes

Apple’s change in data collection and tracking have pros and cons for consumers and companies:

Pros

Improved user privacy.

Apple’s tracking changes have been applauded by privacy groups for giving users more control over their personal data. For instance, the Electronic Frontier Foundation praised Apple for taking “one more step in the right direction.”

Easier brand transparency.

These tracking changes also empower brands to be more transparent with customers about what data they collect. Before iOS 14.5, companies had to create transparency objectives from scratch.

Cons

Fewer personalized ads for customers who opt out of tracking.

Customers who choose to not have apps track their data may receive fewer personalized app experiences and ads since app developers and advertisers won’t be able to access their data.

Targeted advertisement is more difficult.

Since users can easily opt out of data tracking, many companies fear that they won’t be able to gather enough data for analytics and advertising. Studies have shown that opt-in rates across apps are only 6% in the U.S. and 15% worldwide.

Companies that derive a lot of income from ad targetting and access to Apple device users have a lot to lose. A good example is Facebook, which has been engaging in a media war against Apple since this update was released. Facebook has even run TV ads attacking Apple’s moves as harmful to small businesses that rely on ad targetting towards niche consumer groups.

How to Become Less Reliant on User Data Tracking

To stay ahead of the curve and avoid the negative impacts of Apple’s iOS 14.5 tracking changes, you need to become less reliant on user data tracking. Here’s how you can do this:

Diversify ad spend.

Look at your current ad spend and think about how you can diversify or re-allocate. If Apple’s App Store, Facebook, and other platforms are no longer giving you the results you want, pick new platforms that will answer your needs. For instance, you can shift ad spend for iOS apps to other services that provide better marketing features, such as Google Ads, which gives you the ability to target users based on search intent.

Create a new marketing strategy.

Create a new marketing strategy if your current marketing strategy isn’t giving you the results you want. Analyze your existing ecosystem and think of ways you can launch a new commerce strategy for product discovery and customer conversion. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What was the purpose of my pre-iOS 14.5 marketing strategy?
  • What milestones did my pre-iOS 14.5 marketing strategy achieve?
  • To what other platforms, tools, and strategies — AIs that can analyze Twitter posts and Facebook Messenger messages, for example — can I turn to analyze, manage, and convert inbound traffic?
  • Are there any new goals I want to achieve with my new marketing strategy?

Use owned data for advertising targeting.

You should also consider using your owned data such as an email list to inform your ad campaigns. You already own this data and have been given permission to use the information. You can plug it into any analytics or advertising platform of your choice. You can also use Facebook lead ads or in-app lead forms to gather user information and generate leads.

Consider using owned data along with your old method of targeting users since not all of your audience uses iOS devices.

Wrapping Up

Apple’s new iOS 14.5 updates have made it more difficult for companies to track user data and activity across apps. Before your company can track users, you must show users a pop-up that asks them if they want to be tracked. If users don’t click the “Allow” button, you won’t be able to gather and analyze their data. Since many users will opt out of data tracking, you will probably have fewer opportunities to analyze user data and show personalized ads, particularly if you have a lot of iOS users.

Fortunately, you can avoid the negative effects of these updates by becoming less reliant on data tracking. By diversifying ad spend, creating a new marketing strategy, and using owned data for advertising targeting, you can continue targeting audiences and generating leads.

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