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Myth Vs Reality: How the IOS Changes actually changed the industry

Can you believe it’s already been a year? 

When Apple dropped the iOS 14.5 updates to the public on Monday, April 26th, 2021, we welcomed a plethora of new features. But it was one feature, in particular, that would leave the marketing world with a massive (albeit, in hindsight, not entirely necessary) headache: the privacy settings changes and anti-tracking functionality.

In case you’ve been blissfully unaware of the changes (in which case and a nod to the point we’ll make throughout this piece, you really haven’t missed out on an awful lot), here’s the lowdown: at the time of the update release, anyone with an Apple mobile device using iOS 14.5 and up could opt to no longer be monitored by third-party tracking.

For consumers who’d been preaching for extra digital privacy for years, it was long overdue. For advertisers, on the other hand, it caused immediate concern — without third-party tracking, it became impossible to determine the true effectiveness of different ads. 

We – or at least, iPhone and iPad users – had stepped into a world of digital marketing without tracking. In other words, we were back dealing with legacy tactics: throw everything at the wall hoping that something would stick and attribute any sales to who-knows-what.

Sounds scary, right? Fair enough too, because it was. Business owners and digital marketers alike were shaking in their boots, scrambling to find solutions to the unforeseen privacy and data tracking challenges. 

Change is intimidating. But it’s also exciting, because with change comes problem-solving, and with problem-solving comes the opportunity to break new ground. Remember, every single business and marketer was facing the same challenge – it was merely a case of who could adapt best to the current landscape. And is that actually any different to how successful marketing has operated in bygone decades? Not really.

Sure, the software drop caused a mighty ruckus. But, did it turn out to be the destructive obstacle so many feared? The simple answer: no. 

Was it a chance for substantial learning and development? Absolutely. 

Let’s break down why the iOS 14 update wasn’t all that bad, and how, if anything, it actually improved your marketing.

While some continue to look at the iOS glass as half-empty, we don’t. Not only is the glass half-full, it’s overflowing.

Contrary to what many incorrectly assumed, you can still track sales. Verifying your website domain refined your tracking and pixel data to focus on eight core metrics, which you can rank from most important to least, allowing for greater customisation. If anything, your ads are now working harder to find the audiences most likely to convert, rather than being shown to audiences less valuable.

Overall, the update was a reality check — in a good way. It made us realise that, when it comes to data and assets, an independent approach reigns supreme. It was the wake-up call we needed. So, how can we protect against future changes and foster long-term digital success? Easy: build and capitalise on (and engage with!) your independent email and customer lists.

While all of the iOS changes were unfolding, Google remained the most unaffected platform. This forced brands to pivot, implement omnichannel strategies, and kickstart Google advertising. The result? Stronger sales, greater presence, and more customers ready to smack that “buy now” button.

And, finally, the update made marketers rethink reporting and data analytics — again, for the better. With Facebook no longer a source of truth, we turned to UTM parameters (tracking codes) to identify where success was being created, and focused on holistic achievements through the Marketing Efficiency Ratio (or MER, for short).

All in all, iOS 14 didn’t derail us — it inspired smarter thinking and greater reporting, and ignited brilliant omnichannel client strategies.

If you’re looking to learn more about the digital marketing landscape and want to know how your business can capitalise on trends in a post-iOS14.5 world, let’s chat.