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Why iOS14 Will Forever Change the Course of Marketing

You don’t have to be a tech aficionado to understand what we’re going to tell you. So buckle up, because you need to know what’s going on with Apple and Facebook, so you can prepare for what’s coming!

It’s a known fact that Facebook follows all the data you unknowingly provide. It keeps track of everything you do, whenever the phone’s in your pocket. 

So far, it knows:

  • Where you live
  • When you leave
  • Where you go
  • When you go shopping & how much time you spend on this activity
  • Your everyday routes

…and last but not least, it knows everything you search for on the Internet.

What’s more – all the above-mentioned third-party data is used in marketing and advertising.

What does this mean?

That marketers select these very details (location, age, gender or interests & many, many more) in order to deliver ads tailored to effectively reach customers – based on their online (and slightly offline) behaviour.

If you’re not aware of Facebook’s targeting options, let us clear the clutter for you!

Not only does the app have permanent access to your location, interests, age group or gender. 

It knows where you studied (education), if you’re married, divorced or single (relationship status), if you are a parent or not (family), your ethnic affinity, etc. 

It also has access to information about your job title, the industry you work in and the company you work for, it can calculate your average income or the household income, and somehow it can figure out the type of home you live in. These, plus many other more.

But, as you probably already know, apps require different permissions depending on the operating systems. 

Nowadays, if you run apps that use Facebook login, you need to be careful about the information you’re willing to provide – because it might be used against you! 

When it comes to Android and iOS, the personal data Facebook receives from the apps installed on your phone relies strictly on what SDK (Software Development Kit).

features the third party applications use.

Is Private Data Really Private Now?

The lines between data privacy and complete identification started to blur, as third party data collection began to take root.

In case you aren’t up to date with the latest Internet gossip, third-party data collection happens every time an app – that’s not a part of Facebook, uses its SDK and in some cases Google’s Adsense to refine ad targeting. This way, third parties have access to users data from their own platform.

But mind you – before you start questioning whether you should delete half of your apps, let’s differentiate between third party data collection and third party data aggregation.

The latter happens when an individual seeks out services from a third party, in order to put the data they possess into perspective, creating a model for efficient ad placement. 

When it comes to aggregation, data remains anonymous at all costs – and is used in a way more generalised manner.

Tracking Customers – a Thin Line Between Success and Failure

Out of the blue, in March 2020, the Zoom iOS app was accused of sending user data to Facebook, without the consent of the user. The incident wreaked havoc due to a simple “login with Facebook” button, added unknowingly on the Zoom app. Thus, the Facebook SDK (Software Development Kit) present in the app’s iOS platform allowed Facebook to not only access, but to extract users’ data from Zoom’s platform.

Apologies followed from both tech giants, and the company stated that it did not know of such implementations while developing the app – later on rectifying its mistake and fixing the app to remove Facebook’s SDK.

In a blog post, Zoom explained the use of Facebook’s SDK in iOS client. According to the company, “Zoom takes its users’ privacy extremely seriously. We would like to share a change that we have made regarding the use of Facebook’s SDK.  

We originally implemented the “Login with Facebook” feature using the Facebook SDK for iOS (Software Development Kit) in order to provide our users with another convenient way to access our platform. However, we were made aware on Wednesday, March 25, 2020, that the Facebook SDK was collecting device information unnecessary for us to provide our services. The information collected by the Facebook SDK did not include information and activities related to meetings such as attendees, names, notes, etc., but rather included information about devices such as the mobile OS type and version, the device time zone, device OS, device model and carrier, screen size, processor cores, and disk space. 

Our customers’ privacy is incredibly important to us, and therefore we decided to remove the Facebook SDK in our iOS client and have reconfigured the feature so that users will still be able to log in with Facebook via their browser. Users will need to update to the latest version of our application that’s already available at 2:30 p.m. Pacific time on Friday, March 27, 2020, in order for these changes to take hold, and we strongly encourage them to do so. 

Example information sent by the SDK on installation and application open and close:

  • Application Bundle Identifier
  • Application Instance ID
  • Application Version
  • Device Carrier
  • iOS Advertiser ID
  • iOS Device CPU Cores
  • iOS Device Disk Space Available
  • iOS Device Disk Space Remaining
  • iOS Device Display Dimensions
  • iOS Device Model
  • iOS Language
  • iOS Timezone
  • iOS Version

Because the transmission was done over the internet, IP address was utilized in the exchange, but was not part of the SDK payload.

We would like to thank Joseph Cox from Motherboard for bringing this to our attention here

We sincerely apologize for the concern this has caused, and remain firmly committed to the protection of our users’ privacy. We are reviewing our process and protocols for implementing these features in the future to ensure this does not happen again.”

One would think that the trouble ended there. But little did everyone know that what would follow would mean a war from Apple’s side, to protect privacy.

Why Apple Started a War on Privacy

Following these events, you’ve undoubtedly heard that Apple will make big changes to data tracking permissions in the new iOS version – 14. All the factors that led to this seemingly sudden change of scenery for Apple started back in 2017.  The changes could significantly impact advertisers, publishers and app developers that work with Facebook – because it all has to do with Pixels, Cookies and Privacy.

The Internet we all use these days is built on these three.

It uses pixels to deliver information to servers, and cookies in order to store that information in the user’s browser – so that the server can go over it again later. Cookies are important because of the following reasons: they help us track and recognise users across every session, they help attribute sales to clicks from the ads, and last but not least – you can use cookies to build audiences or exclude purchasers.

Although they are very useful, they transformed websites into horrendous banner displays, with extremely intrusive targeting.

For this exact reason, Apple started a war in order to protect the user’s privacy and experience. It wants to limitate the ability of advertisers to “stalk” customers. Starting with the iOS13, Apple reduced the lifespan of tracking cookies to just 7 days!

This means that Facebook can only attribute clicks and conversions that happen less than 7 days prior. What’s more, when retargeting, Facebook can also add users to custom audiences if the users visited the website in less than 7 days. And on top of that, advertisers will be limited to max. 8 conversion events. If you use several Conversion Events in your ad account, well, then – be prepared to bring that number down to max. 8.

How Will iOS14 Impact Your Ads in 2021

During the WWDC conference in 2020, Apple made public their efforts to protect user’s privacy step by step, by imposing a set of new limitations on mobile app developers and on the apps found in the App Store.

The new update, iOS14 which is expected to launch early this year, will require apps to explicitly ask for permission to track user data across apps and websites. Cool, right?

Basically, within each app’s product page, users will be able to learn how and why their app uses the provided data. Moreover, developers will also be required to provide details on the privacy policies.

Although harmless and somehow necessary, these updates impact Facebook advertising big time.

Facebook Reaction: Yay or Nay?

Dan Levy, the VP of Ads and Business Products, claims that the “new iOS 14 policy will have a harmful impact on many small businesses that are struggling to stay afloat.”

He believes that the changes will:

  • Force businesses to turn to subscriptions and in-app payments
  • Make advertising less effective
  • Cause a loss of personalization that could result in 60% fewer website sales from ads
  • Cause a drop in revenue by 50% resulting from Facebook app install ads
  • Make it more difficult for small businesses to reach their ideal audience, limiting growth.

Times are tough for advertisers, that is for sure.

Both small business and big brands have to suffer the consequences of this war on privacy, but it’s our duty as advertisers to make the best of it.

If we made it through 2020, we can make it through 2021 as well!


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