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Apple iOS 14.5 Update – May 2021

Apple iOS 14.5 Update – May 2021
Summary: What you need to know and what you need to do

There’s been a lot of wrangling in the press recently about Apple’s latest update, with Facebook vociferously pushing back on the changes. So, what do the changes mean for you and your business, and what can you do to avoid them negatively impacting your advertising and engagement strategies?

Apple Privacy update

What is it and why have Apple created it?

The Apple Privacy update addresses the concerns from the public about how apps acquire and use data without user permission. The change will impact Advertisers, and affect Google Analytics KPIs related to traffic coming to a site from any app, including Social Media such as Facebook.

Up until now, Developers have been able to freely track data from an app and use it to understand how users interact with the wider internet. They also use it to broadly match it to data available on the internet to profile people for advertising purposes.

This data is usually generic, e.g. a flag to say that you have engaged with a particular topic on Social Media, and is used by advertisers to create “affinity groups” – people who are interested in the same things as you.

Affinity groups are used when businesses advertise on Social Media platforms like Facebook or Instagram. They allow businesses to target prospective clients based on interests and behaviours that they share with your existing customer base. If you advertise on Facebook, this is a really useful way of targeting your advertising spend on engagement with a very specific audience.

The latest change makes it easy for Apple users to opt out of being tracked when they leave an app (much like not accepting cookies). People have had the option to opt out (on any phone type) for a number of years, but the latest iOS upgrade puts this choice front and centre for Apple users, by ensuring that any app must ask you for permission before tracking user activity when you leave an app.


As an aside, the update also offers improved face recognition log-in for mask wearers using an Apple Watch and an extension to the Emoji library. 😊

The change does not affect Android users or Advertisers at this point in time.

The update is in roll-out now (May 21)


Why are Facebook pushing back and why does it matter to you?

Facebook predict that the impact will be that more Apple users will opt out of tracking, which will reduce the audience sizes available for them to target in affinity groups, potentially making Facebook advertising less cost effective than previously.

The tracking metrics are also used to inform your Google Analytics that a user came to your site from an app e.g. Facebook. When users opt out, businesses will lose visibility of where that person came from and potentially erroneously believe that an app or device is driving less traffic or sales than it did previously.

For example, a user shares your Facebook post with a friend who has not allowed tracking. The friend clicks through to your site and buys. You will have no record that the sale originated from Facebook.


What can I do to prepare my business for this change?

Facebook is still contesting the implementation of this update, but given that it’s already in roll-out it can’t be ignored, albeit further subsequent updates may be applied if Apple and Facebook find some common ground.

  1. Separate out Android and iOS users into separate campaigns. This will give you a comparison to understand the impact of the change on your business – Android remains the same, so if you post the same advert on both platforms and iOS performs differently, you can assess your “new normal” for iOS.
  2. Take a snapshot of your existing audience profile so that you can use it to inform advertising content, and so that you can assess the scale and nature of the change on your KPI performance.
  3. Verify your Facebook domain and enable the Conversions API in Facebook Business Manager to ensure that the data received by your tracking pixels is accurately delivered to Facebook.


Talk to your Tech team or your Digital Marketing Advisor for the latest news and recommendations, or if you need any support with regards to this update.  CONTACT US


Want to know more?

Find out more about the iOS 14.5 update HERE

Find out more about how Facebook are responding HERE


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