Why Facebook’s Not Happy With Apple’s iOS 14 Updates

Between the Covid-19 vaccine, a new presidency, and the expected arrival of the stories function to yet another social media platform, things are shaping up to look different in 2021. 

However, one major change that continues to evolve is the ongoing battle between Apple and Facebook regarding Apple’s iOS 14 privacy changes. If all goes according to Apple’s plans, users of iOS 14 will be given the choice to opt-in or out of tracking in apps. This change has the potential to shift the landscape of digital advertising entirely, and we’ll  break down the potential impact from the perspective of both companies, as well as the individual user themselves.

For Apple, this shift continues a recent campaign of championing privacy. From their television ad several months ago depicting people exclaiming in public their private details, to this recent shift, the change is nothing new. But the company ensures this new update provides users with something they have never seen before: a choice in advertising. By giving users of their devices the opportunity to avoid advertising tracking, they have positioned themselves to become the leader in privacy among a group of companies the public perceives as abusing said privacy.

On the flip side, Facebook has taken a staunch position against this update. Recently, the company took out a full-page advertisement in many major U.S. newspapers decrying the change and citing irreversible damage it will cause to small businesses around the country. 

Facebook states: “More than 10 million businesses use our advertising tools each month to find new customers, hire employees and engage with their communities,” and that “without personalized ads, Facebook data shows that the average small business advertiser stands to see a cut of over 60% in their sales for every dollar they spend.”

While the answer seems very cut and dried, the impact is anything but. Facebook  has a valid point in that this change will significantly impact small businesses. At the same time, they have used the same verbiage when justifying other issues they have faced in the past, such as their most recent antitrust suit regarding the acquisition of Instagram and WhatsApp. In that instance, Facebook was accused of creating a monopoly and argued against it by insisting the acquisition of Instagram allowed them to succeed at a scale they never would have reached on their own.

 In the same vein, Apple has faced its own issues, most recently agreeing to pay a settlement of upwards of $500 million for deliberately sabotaging the performance of older versions of their phones in an attempt to get customers to upgrade; a move clearly not in the interest of the people as their new initiative would like to frame it. 

One thing is for sure, as the update marches toward launch, the impact will be felt by users and businesses alike. With this new choice, Apple users will undoubtedly have more say, while businesses may have to venture into new platforms to accommodate the loss of effectiveness in platforms such as Facebook. 

For marketers, these changes pose a difficult challenge affecting the performance and analysis of their campaigns. While advertisers will be able to continue advertising within the platform, they now must deal with tracking blindness, or advertising without the necessary trackable attributes to narrow down an audience.

In order to minimize the negative impacts of these changes, there are a few steps every business should take to make sure they are able to track users when they get to a site and properly attribute conversions to specific campaigns. 

The first is to have site tracking set up through Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics. Once users are on the site, it is important to know where they are going and what they are interacting with. With the Facebook Event Pixel losing effectiveness with the iOS 14 update, Google Analytics will become one of the most crucial pieces to maintaining tracking and website activity from Facebook ads.

Avenues such as responsive display ads through Google and programmatic display will still offer a visual option for businesses wanting to narrow down their audience, however, this will be an adjustment for many owners managing their own advertising. One thing is for sure, 2021 is sure to bring yet another seismic shift in the world of digital advertising.

Authored by:

Casey Collins

Specialist, Advertising & Search

Advertising and search specialist Casey Collins has more than two years of experience working for clients in healthcare, tourism, construction and more. At Rebel, he sets up and optimizes, and...Read More

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