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The Ripple Effect of Apple’s App Tracking Transparency Update

Clearwater Staff

Apple is a technological giant, with many of the world’s population holding at least one product from their immense collection. The iPhone, for example, revolutionised the smartphone industry, drawing in billions in both sales and active users.

To keep their technology fresh and up-to-date with public demands, Apple also frequently release updates to their operating systems, and in mid-2021, one of the most controversial updates hit devices across the world. The iOS 14.5 update came with a range of new features, such as new emojis and Face ID improvements, but also held a new App Tracking Transparency feature. This has since caused incredible ripples across the wider digital marketing industry, as platforms like Facebook and Instagram have had their algorithms disrupted by these new features.

In this article, the team at Clearwater are exploring some of these ripple effects of the recent update, both on the larger online platforms, and for your business.


What is Apple’s App Tracking Transparency Update?

Tracking features on iOS previously allowed developers to track data on users within the specific apps they were frequenting, further enabling marketing campaigns to better target audiences with content and advertisements, as demonstrated by their demographics, online behaviours and so on.

Apple’s App Tracking Transparency update has changed the game, however, as it requires iPhone users to decide and opt-in on whether they want apps to track their activity for the sake of advertising. While it was always possible for users to opt out of being tracked, this update has placed the ability at the forefront of users’ attention.

The Effect on the Industry

Naturally, this has disrupted the previous advertising abilities of not just the large platforms like Facebook who rely on ad revenue, but the small to large businesses across the world who rely on these insights to attract their audiences via social media advertising.

Marketers previously relied heavily on Facebook’s pixel capabilities – pieces of code attached to the backend of a website or app that tracks user visits and actions. This would provide insight into the ads that were working in order for brands to improve their campaigns. Whereas we were once allowed to have as many pixels as needed, after the iOS 14.5 updates, we will only be permitted to have eight pixel objectives against a single domain, restricting the amount of data ready for collection and analysis.


How to Address the Transparency Update

If you find your marketing campaigns adversely affected by the update, there are some actions you can take within your wider digital marketing strategy to adjust.

Android vs iOS Users with Segmented Audience Targeting

Given how this update is only set to affect those using iOS, Android users won’t see a difference. As such, you should try to track both Android and iOS users separately. For example, when you are building campaigns for target conversion events, you can select the individual audiences for the respective operating systems under the Specific Mobile Devices & Operating Systems dropdown.

Focus on Your 8 Most Valuable Events

Given the reduced number of pixels available, it is important to locate which events and custom conversions deliver the most return for investment. Facebook will initially do this for you, but should you want to switch the order or make changes, simply visit Ads Manager and complete the necessary actions in the Events Manager, until you find your way to the Aggregated Event Measurement tab. Click on Configure Web Events, followed by selecting your domain and clicking Edit Events, upon which you can decide on those most important events for you to track.

Rely on External Tracking Tools

Data and insights are the key to any successful advertising campaign, so it is important to find solutions for accurate tracking, even if it requires marginally more effort. For example, you can stop using Facebook to track the conversions occurring within your website. Alternatively, you can either rely on your website’s existing platform tracking system, or even manually collect the data by introducing additional landing pages to build custom audience lists.

Speak with Clearwater Experts for More

Need help in building a robust digital marketing strategy that can withstand the changes made to the iOS operating system? Book a free session with one of our specialists at Clearwater today.

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