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The (Tracking) Times They are A-Changing

Ad tracking is going to look very different

Consumers talked and the government listened. The privacy concerns of individual users have led to more stringent government regulations on how websites and apps are able to track users.

Apple wanted to get ahead of the curve and the newest version of their iOS technology includes many changes in privacy, which in turn will affect modern marketing.

In recent years, we have relied heavily on pixels (tracking info sent directly to servers) and cookies (information saved on an individual’s browser) to get the data we need for targeted marketing. However, Apple’s iOS 14.6 is about to throw a big wrench in that process.

The Default Option is Done

Most people will opt out, so what’s next?

In the past, the default was that all users would be tracked unless they turned that option off in their settings. With the iOS update, each user will be asked to “opt in” to data tracking. The message is worded in such a way to encourage people to say no.

It’s estimated only 5 to 20 percent will opt in once they update their operating system. Ouch.

Facebook and other media companies rely a lot on advertising as a means of making money, so they’ve begun figuring out how to make marketing work on their platform even if most people opt out.

One thing that Facebook will start doing is called Aggregated Event Management which allows for some measurement of web events to support pre-determined advertising while curbing more sensitive data transmissions.

Although the changes at Apple’s iOS 14.6 don’t affect android users or desktop users, it’s a pretty sure bet Google will soon do something similar.

Adapt to Survive, then Thrive

We know what we need to do

For us, this means a sea change in how we look at marketing and how we strategize each campaign. Before, we could target specific audiences based on their online activity and use that extensive data to point us toward our people and ensure they saw our ads. 

Here’s what Facebook says you can expect:

  • A gradual adoption as people update their devices with an increasing impact on data reporting 
  • Immediate changes to App Campaigns where advertisers that do not support Apple’s API (application programming interface) will be unable to create Mobile App Install campaigns targeting users on those iOS 14.6+ devices. Translation: existing campaigns will stop delivering. 
  • Immediate changes to reporting that will affect all advertisers, like decreasing click-through data and view-through attribution, as well as a drop in demographic breakdowns. Attribution methodology — or a person’s online interaction with a campaign — will shift from impression time to conversion time.  
  • The following weeks will show performance fluctuations, decreased audience sizes and paused ad sets. 

The good news is that we are all in the same boat. Every single marketing campaign using this data will be affected in a similar way. Our goal is to find the workarounds and minimize disruption caused. 

To do this we plan to use 1st party data (data that is collected directly from the source) wherever possible through custom audiences. Customer and patient opt-in data is the most valuable marketing audience we have and it enables us to model the audiences to increase the scale of a campaign.

We’ll also use contextual targeting (a form of targeted advertising for advertisements that shows up on websites or other media). This will allow us to target audiences by the content they are consuming and does not require the use of 3rd party data. 

In other words, we got this.

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