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For better or worse, businesses and advertisers rely on data tracking – knowing who you are, where you’re going and what you’re searching for – to serve you ads for products or services that, when done well, you’d genuinely be interested in.

Despite a widely shared privacy concern, the everyday person has had little power to do anything about it, but Apple is changing that with a new policy that will make data tracking more transparent and something you will have more control over.

Upon downloading any app, you will be able to review privacy labels that indicate what data will be collected and how it will be used. You will then be required to answer a simple yes or no to whether you want to opt in.

Apple made the announcement late last year, confirming it will be a feature of the iOS14 update, but it’s not clear exactly when this iteration of the update will be available.

With little hope that people will opt in, Facebook is encouraging every business to prepare with a range of adaptions to their digital setups to maintain, as best as possible, the existing tracking tools.

What we know

There are two major implications for Facebook advertising:

The first is a limitation on the ability to track what people do on your website. Tracking website actions is made possible by the Facebook Pixel – a piece of code that can be installed on any website that collects information about the users’ website interactions. These actions are called ‘events’ or ‘conversions’ and can be anything from clicking a contact button to making a purchase.

Previously you could capture as many events as you liked and use these in different ways to optimise your ads.

However, the iOS14 update will mean that advertisers will be limited to a maximum of eight events per domain – the address of your website that people type in the browser URL bar to visit your website – and Facebook will only be able to record one event per user session. This means you will have to prioritise events according to what is most beneficial to your business.

For example, if your events are configured in order of:

  1. Lead
  2. Contact
  3. Subscribe to newsletter

And a user completed events 1 and 3, Facebook will only be able to record the lead as it was the highest priority.

This is particularly problematic for businesses with one domain and multiple sub-domains and Pixels per location (e.g., threesides.com.au/canberra). This would require a complete overhaul of their website and account setup to consolidate Pixels to just one and get the most out of eight events across cities or countries.

The second implication is that audience sizes and quality will significantly drop. Although we will still be able to measure what type of events were completed, we won’t know by who.

This means that advertisers won’t be able to retarget or create look-a-like audiences based on previous customers, website visitors, or any other custom audience once generated by the Pixel.

Prospective customers won’t be easily identifiable and Facebook won’t be able to automatically optimise ads to them.

So, in summary, the iOS14 update will limit:

  • The number of conversion events per domain to eight.
  • The ability to track the users that opt-out of data tracking, affecting audience sizes.

What we don’t know

Until the iOS14 update is released and users begin opting out of data-tracking, we won’t know the full impact. Advertisers and businesses will have to completely reassess best-practices, campaign structure, audience targeting and measurement.

First-party data (e.g., newsletter subscribers) will likely become key, but a lot of testing will be required to find other solutions.

Regardless, privacy and data policies will only continue to get tougher in time, but that won’t diminish the power digital platforms possess for businesses who rely on them to communicate with their customers. We must play ball, adapt with the everchanging landscape, get creative and get testing to continue driving results.

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