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What Marketers Need to Know About Apple’s Privacy Changes

What’s in this article:

  • What Apple’s new privacy changes are and why they are important
  • How marketers should respond to Apple’s iOS 14.5 update

We gradually realize there’s no such thing as a free lunch, even on the internet. For decades now, app developers and digital marketers have had unprecedented access to consumer data. It’s been the fuel for the most effective advertising that the world has ever seen. It’s also become the core of highly critical documentaries like “The Social Dilemma.”

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But there are several signs that this era of easily accessible data is coming to an end — Apple’s iOS 14.5 update being the latest reason — proving that marketers need to adapt.

If you need a briefing, we have your back. This post is your cheat sheet to Apple’s privacy changes.

What’s changing?

The core method for tracking user activity across Apple apps is the Identifier for Advertising or IDFA. This feature helps app developers rope in ad revenue and advertisers acquire leads with targeted ads. Users could always opt-out of being tracked, but it was a bit buried. Now, that opt-out opportunity is front and center, literally. The latest update asks users for tracking permission via a clear pop-up in every app that uses IDFA, once and for all.

What’s not changing?

The change won’t impact what user the data publishers see in their own apps. It only affects the ability of those publishers to connect the dots between what you do in their app and elsewhere. That means users will still get the personalized experience they’ve come to expect from modern applications.

Customer marketing challenges and opportunities

Why should you care?

The change impacts the entire Apple advertising space, and many developers, marketers, and small businesses need to do some level of recalibration. If opt-in rates stay in the low double digits, the accuracy of ad targeting in the Apple ecosystem will inevitably degrade. For marketers whose pipeline depends on leads from these ads, the performance hit could be significant.

In addition, this appears to be another domino in the paradigm shift toward increasing privacy. GDPR, CCPA, and this update establishes a new standard for internet advertising — one whose next installment could involve Google’s Android devices. As mobile ad expert Eric Seufert noted in USA Today, “[Google is] going to have to do something that matches this, at least cosmetically.”

How should you adapt?

Should the changes continue in this direction, brands that use data that their audience isn’t fully aware they collected may drive negative sentiment — even beyond mobile apps. Consumers will begin to expect much more than relevant ads. They’ll want to feel brands respect their online sovereignty.

Just as inbound disrupted traditional advertising — pushing marketers to create content that consumers would actually seek out — this trend forces brands to rethink how they approach their audience. While there’s going to be pain involved in transitioning our mindsets and strategies, it’s also an opportunity for differentiation.

  • The ability to run a marketing operation free of second and third-party data might become a means of earning consumer respect — and business. This approach could lead to becoming increasingly comfortable building your marketing dataset using zero party data.
  • Perhaps more than ever before, brands that prioritize the development of powerful relationships with their audience stand to benefit from these changes. Marketers that honed their craft by earning consumer data in a genuinely transparent value exchange are well-positioned. This strategy is what forward-thinking brands, like e.l.f., have done with reward programs.

If this isn’t you, don’t despair. But do begin thinking about how you could reshape your strategy in a new status quo.

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