iOS14 – The End of the World as We Know it?

For a change that’s been on the horizon for quite some time, we know startlingly little about the extent of the impact that iOS14 will have on the digital advertising industry. Initially released in September 2020, iOS 14 is one of Apple’s biggest iOS updates to date and among improvements to Siri and Home Screen designs, the update also threw a spanner in the works by introducing privacy changes that will drastically change the way we advertise hereon.

Jack Carr

While iOS14 is uncharted territory for most, and the overarching effects remain uncertain, there are certain steps advertisers can take, to prepare themselves for later down the road.

Facebook Audiences

If there’s one impact that’s guaranteed, it’s that the wealth of user data that Facebook currently possesses will decrease substantially.  The sites users visit, the apps they use and the news they read all form an essential part of the profiles that Facebook build. And as more users opt out of tracking, the effectiveness of Facebook’s tracking pixel and the insights it provides are severely diminished.

While retargeting might seem like the answer, you won’t be able to track all users on site anymore which hinders the effectiveness of your first party lists. To get around this you’ll need to ensure your CRM data is up to scratch.

  • Break down your large lists into more category specific lists
  • Add in CRM category specific lists  to bolster any gaps in your Facebook custom lists

This will allow you to reduce the drop off in audience lists and permit you to have as much personalisation as possible.

On the prospecting side, advertisers should create look-alikes outside of Facebook where possible, using an audience management platform (such as Salesforce) to create look-a-likes, outside of the use of app based data, then uploading that into your Business Manager. If that isn’t an option, be aware that the quality of your look-a-likes are likely to be lower in Facebook. Keep an eye on their performance and be prepared to pull back to lower percentages of the population if your results dip.

Be prepared that Facebook won’t exclude those who have opted out, which means you could be showing your strongest customers prospecting ads if you keep the same custom Facebook audiences as your exclusion lists. Adding in your CRM lists is the best way to avoid this.


Over the years, the Facebook pixel has driven substantial growth for the tech giant with it’s cross-device, cross-platform attribution – albeit not without some questioning the pixel’s generosity towards the faintest of Facebook touchpoints. As Facebook sets to lose considerable visibility on audience behaviours, there are question marks surrounding the impact this might have on the attribution engine.

With substantial uncertainty surrounding the matter, advertisers should be selecting the available 8 optimization events, ensuring there is nothing running outside of those that will be paused when the inevitable changes are brought about. Keep an eye out for value based optimisation, which will take up 4 of your 8 events. If advertisers are struggling to narrow down options they should consider moving away from value optimization to conversion based as a method of freeing up space.


Loss of reporting is potentially the most daunting of changes brought about by iOS14, with considerable scepticism concerning the drop off we’ll see in tracked revenue. Unfortunately, there’s not much that we can do right now. The only suggestion we can make, is that advertisers should ensure that conversion is their top priority event – which a user will pass through even if they opt out. Any move towards adopting a Conversions API (CAPI) will also help pass more data through to Facebook and minimise difference, and should be looked into.

Outside of that, brands should put in the leg work now to educate the wider business on the changes that are coming, and the expected drop off in revenue from in-platform attribution. This will help streamline the business when things do undoubtedly dip. Brands should also use more than just the Social platforms reporting – whether that is GA or an MMM project. Outside sources will help avoid the drop off rate, giving a clearer picture of true performance.

The Future/Conclusion

While there is, quite rightly, a lot of unease around the changes, as some advertisers pull back spend, the door opens for those who can see past the drop off and those who have prepared their business in advance. With less competition, a chance of higher impression shares and lower CPMs iOS14 should be considered as much an opportunity as a threat.

For more information on what iOS14 will look like, and mean for your business get in touch today.

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