Introduced this past fall, Apple’s latest operating system for iPhones and the iPod Touch – iOS 14 (also known as iPadOS 14 for iPads) – has been a gamechanger on a variety of fronts. As it says in the overview for Apple iOS 14:

iOS 14 brings a fresh look to the things you do most often, making them easier than ever. New features help you get what you need in the moment. And the apps you use all the time become even more intelligent, more personal, and more private.

For marketers, it’s very important to note the last two words there…MORE PRIVATE.

A NEW ERA Of App Tracking Transparency

While iOS 14 brought significant visual changes to our devices when it first came out and in subsequent updates (now at 14.4 as of late January), the most significant updates for users – revolving around app privacy and activity tracking – are being developed in the background in preparation for the forthcoming iOS 14.5.

The expected privacy and tracking updates will go far beyond the user experience, as marketers (and the tech platforms and providers that support marketers) will also be significantly impacted…especially given the fact that according to Apple’s numbers as of late February, 86% of all iPhones and 84% of all iPads introduced in the last four years use iOS/iPadOS 14.

The new iOS 14.5 is expected to drop in early spring…in other words, any day now. In addition to featuring several cool user updates including hundreds of new emojis and the ability to use Face ID while wearing a mask, iOS 14.5 will introduce Apple’s App Tracking Transparency policy (ATT).

iOS 14.5 Example
An example of what users
will see with iOS 14.5.

In a nutshell, the ATT will provide users with a pop-up when they launch an app that wants to track their activities. The feature also keeps tracking turned off by default and will only let you be tracked if you tell the app to.

Currently, app tracking is turned on by default, though users can disable it via the iOS and iPadOS settings menus.

What This Means for Marketers

For marketers, the ATT update in iOS 14.5 means that users will have the choice to expressly give consent to track them. It’s expected that a significant share of users across the board will opt out of tracking all together, leaving marketers and app developers with many questions about how it’s all going to shake out.

To the surprise of no one, Facebook has been a loud critic of all of this and has done what it can to prepare for the changes ahead. Countless marketers at all levels and in all categories leverage Facebook (and Instagram) to serve digital ads to targeted audiences. This means the ATT update is poised to affect us all.

HOW TO GET Ahead of Potential Impacts

To help our clients navigate the changing iOS landscape when it comes to Facebook and Instagram, Tiny Bully prepared a quick-start guide – Apple iOS 14: Summary of Changes that Impact Facebook and Instagram Advertising – to provide an overview of what all of this means, and to outline the steps marketers can take to mitigate certain aspects (namely impacts in reporting, attribution, and targeting) of iOS 14.5.

At the end of the day, with the absence of tracking information on Apple devices, paid advertising across the board will likely be hit with strong headwinds. The exact impact of the iOS 14.5 update will only become known after the rollout.

In the meantime, you can grab our guide and get working on getting ahead of potential impacts. Let us know what you think!