How The Apple iOS 14 Update Impacts Your Paid Ad Strategy

Marketing your business online means utilizing both an organic and paid strategy to generate new leads and drive revenue for your business. While organic marketing is effective at growing your brand awareness and attracting new prospects, it is paid advertising that really drives the most conversions, leads, and transactions for a business. Needless to say, most digital marketing strategies rely heavily on paid marketing and advertising.

The power of paid advertising, either through Google or Facebook ads, is its ad-targeting capabilities through data-tracking specific users on the platforms. But as we know in the world of marketing, the only constant is change. This means your job as a marketer or business owner is to keep your strategies flexible and adaptable to whatever new change comes. The lastest being Apple’s new iOS 14 update. 

The iOS 14 update essentially will change the way apps ask for and collect user data. Basically, this update requires each person using an Apple device to give consent that their user and device data can be tracked by each app individually. While on the consumer side, this sounds like a great way to finally put checks and balances on how our data is used and collected on the internet. For marketers and business owners who rely on this data to analyze, track, and target those consumers, the reception to the update is not so warm. 

Digital marketers, strategists, owners, and even platforms like Facebook, are concerned that this will impact how we can target campaigns and attribute results across sites and apps. Though these changes may seem frustrating, there is a path ahead. One thing to remember; this change will only impact iOS app traffic, most specifically campaigns focused on acquiring new customers, which is actually a small portion of traffic when you are targeting your audience groups.  

But the concerns and reservations are indeed valid. With the iOS 14 update impacting data tracking across Apple devices, what will happen to Facebook ad targeting, optimization, and tracking? Here’s everything you need to know to plan and adapt your ad strategy for the iOS 14 update.

What exactly is iOS 14?

Like most system updates to our mobile devices, iOS 14 makes changes to the “core experience” of the iPhone. This includes changes to the features of the device, as well as a new way to organize and store apps. More importantly, the system updates changes to the settings and security of the device. Including certain privacy features. The new privacy features of iOS 14 are designed to improve user transparency, as well as to give the device owners control over the levels of access apps have to the user’s location, microphone, camera, and photos. 

With so many public concerns and critiques over user privacy while on apps and social media sites, these kinds of changes were inevitable, though, it will also lead to major changes for the future of digital marketing.

What will the iOS 14 update do? 

In the simplest terms, users can now “opt out” of tracking. So, if an iPhone or iPad user does not want their iOS apps to track or collect their browsing data, they can use their settings feature to be excluded from tracking. Once users download iOS 14, apps will be required to ask users for permission to collect and share data via an App Tracking Transparency (ATT) pop-up prompt. By opting out, users can completely block their data from being shared with the apps they use. For marketers, this will limit all personalized advertising, retargeting, segmentation, lookalike audiences, and exclusion targeting.

This will have the largest impact on Facebook campaigns that include app placements. Currently, mobile devices and app placements are essential, as more than half of all people use their devices to log on to apps like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and even to search Google. 

Why is Apple doing this?

In the last few months, Apple has introduced and implemented several privacy-first initiatives aimed to make its consumers feel more protected online. As part of its data responsibilities, Apple has made it so that app developers must share how they will use data before a user downloads an app, added pop-ups that give users a choice of how an app tracks their location, restricted third-party cookies, limited the use of first-party cookies in Safari, and more. 

Apple’s transition to a more privacy-friendly approach to technology is in line with new data regulations and browser updates stemming from concerns about election interference, political polarization, and social media companies’ responsibilities.The iOS 14 update is simply the latest step in Apple’s strategic stance of giving users the power to take back control of their digital footprint. 

What does this mean for your ad strategy? 

The new update will have more impact in the areas of ad retargeting, ad measuring, and ad reporting. Since users now have the option to opt-out of targeting, they can no longer be retargeted, unless you are targeting based on current customer lists, emails, or phone numbers. With measuring and reporting, the clarity of the data is somewhat skewed when a portion of your audience segment has gone dark. This will also impact Facebook’s ability to limit ad frequency with iOS 14 audiences and deliver your ads to the best audiences.

The upside to this is that experts estimate that only about 10-15% of Apple users will opt out of tracking with the iOS 14 update, and while that number may increase over time, this gives marketers and business owners time to reconfigure its strategies, adopt new targeting solutions, optimize their acquisition and conversion channels, and think of creative ways to effectively deliver relevant messages to their target audiences. 

For companies that rely heavily on Facebook advertising, they will see the most significant limitations to their existing tracking capabilities — specifically, they will no longer have access to data on what their iOS users click or search for outside the platform. Because of the reduced available data, Facebook’s dynamic product ad will be disproportionately affected, as Facebook will no longer be able to determine the impact of its ad campaigns on eventual conversions from users who have opt-out of tracking. 

This means that your ad and marketing strategy must find relevant and less invasive ways to target customers. The most obvious being putting more of your ad dollars into acquiring emails and phone numbers from your audience, leads and customers. 

Best Practices To Adapt Your Ad Strategy

The iOS 14 update doesn’t mean the end for paid social advertising, but it does mean you need to explore creative ways to advertise to your audience online in order to get the most from your digital campaigns. Here are a few recommendations on how you can adapt your strategy: 


Dig through your current data to find out how much of your current audience use Apple devices. Check your Google Analytics device report, then, click on Audience, then Mobile, then Device. Scroll down to Apple devices to find this information. Knowing what percentage of your current audience will be affected by iOS 14 will help you get an idea of how much your strategy needs to pivot to remain effective. This can help you to get an idea of how many of your users are being affected by iOS 14.


As you create new campaigns or even set up test campaigns, consider excluding iOS devices altogether. This will allow you to gain more data from your android audience, and also give you a better look at how much the update will affect your business. You can compare your campaign results against past campaigns where you included iOS devices, and find areas of opportunity for future ad sets and campaigns.  


If your entire strategy revolves around paid social, start investing in other channels where you can diversify your marketing budgets between other acquisition channels. You don’t need to eliminate Facebook and Instagram ads completely, but explore opportunities like email, web display ads, SMS, podcast, or Influencer marketing, for example. Expand your customer funnel touchpoints, and you’ll capture more leads. 

Every marketing effort you implement should contribute towards the goal of capturing a lead’s email address, phone number, or both. By gathering this valuable first-party data, you’ll be able to use personalized Facebook retargeting ads on them and communicate with them more directly through other channels like email and SMS. 


Use the first-party data you’ve collected from new customer acquisition channels, to create personalized ads with new conversion objectives. Opt for campaigns that focus on lead generation or personalized retargeting ads for purchase conversions. 


When done right, email marketing is one of the most valuable marketing channels. It is both low cost and highly compelling with relevant messaging. With the iOS 14 update, email may become even more useful. By capturing the email address of a prospective customer, you can use emails and newsletters to nurture leads, encourage a sale, request a referral, recover abandoned carts, follow up after purchases, encourage repeat purchases, and so much more. 

The most beneficial thing marketers and strategies can do is to pivot away from over-reliance on single channels and start developing campaigns that span various channels based on their ability to measure and attribute results. This will allow brands to focus on owning and gathering essential data in-house, rather than relying on third-party sources. This also means your campaigns and sales numbers don’t have to be heavily impacted by recurring changes in the digital landscape. 

There will continue to be new restrictions and concerns over data privacy, and the brands that remain creative and flexible when these changes occur, are those that will prosper. If your brand is uncertain of how your strategy stacks, give us a call to discuss how you can make your campaigns stronger through omnichannel marketing.