Apple’s IOS 14 update has been the subject of controversy lately due to its severe changes in protecting the privacy of users. The new iPhone operating system will ask users to opt-in to IDFA data sharing rather than asking if they would like to opt-out. This update to Apple’s privacy protection measures has to the potential to cause significant problems for advertisers targeting and conversion attribution.

Impact on Data Sharing

This simple but impactful change is estimated to cause the 70% of iPhone users who do share their data to drop to about 15% (Emery, 2021). That data is used by advertisers to disseminate personalized mobile ads and track their effectiveness at the user level. Basically, it allows advertisers to know whether they are sending out ads worthwhile to their audience. With the new update, there will be no way of knowing how the user is engaging with the ad, or anything to identify important demographic information about the user. Without that data it could become difficult to advertise to mobile users.

This could force advertisers to pull back from their mobile marketing efforts given the potential waste of their advertising budget. Further, the user experience will be negatively affected by the impersonal and potentially irrelevant ads.

What Can Advertisers Do?

While this move is not unexpected given Apple’s recent move towards increased privacy for their users, it still comes as a shock to advertising platforms who are scrambling to make up for the incredible loss of data. With that loss comes lost revenue to the advertising platforms that monetize that data and can no longer share it with advertising partners.

The biggest concern is for small businesses who were looking to grow their business online through targeted advertisements and focused ad campaigns. The lack of data inhibits small business from targeting their ads effectively. The small business then needs to decide if they increase their ad spend and shift more towards Android OS targeting or cut down their advertising budget altogether.

While the full extent of Apple’s privacy changes is yet to be understood, there are simple measure’s small businesses can take to mitigate the immediate impact. For starters, UTM parameters added to your business URL sends tracking information to Google Analytics. Despite the App Store not tracking this information, Google Analytics will still compile it normally. Further, use contact forms to capture basic contact information like phone numbers or email addresses internally.