Data Privacy Series, Part 1: Apple’s iOS Software Update and the Impact on Mobile Marketing

June 16, 2021

This is part 1 of a 3-part blog series on data privacy. Data Privacy is a very hot topic lately and is important for all marketers and brand managers to be mindful of as it will reshape the future of digital marketing and targeting strategies.

On April 26, 2021, Apple released the iOS 14.5 update, the first that enforces Apple’s App Tracking Transparency policy. Specifically, this means that users will have to opt into allowing access to their unique, device specific IDFA (aka Identifier for Advertisers), which marketers use to track the users across sites and apps. Apple realizes the complications this will have on the marketing industry but has stated that they value the privacy of their users and believe that the implementation of a privacy policy is for the greater good.

The implementation of this policy specifically affects how marketers can track and measure the data of Apple users, most significantly on mobile devices. Before the update, marketers could gather the data of users across channels to put together a well-rounded “image” of the user. Then using the data, they could compile look-alike audiences. This made it extremely efficient to target a mass group of people who fell within the target audience at a very low cost. Without being able to track data across sites and apps, marketers will have to turn to alternate solutions to make sure they are still reaching the desired audience. 

There is much uncertainty in how greatly this will impact targeting strategies and performance moving forward, as it is impossible to predict how many users will opt out of tracking. Here are a couple of solutions that can be taken into consideration to overcome this new software update:

  • Shift to direct partnerships with publishers that will be able to obtain detailed first party data/results that reflect your digital media performance.
  • If your campaign strategy is geared toward mobile, a short term solution until there is a more reliable option is to use Apple’s ad measurement tools like their system, SKAdNetwork. This system shares conversion data with advertisers without revealing the specific device used that completed the action. Results will be given as an overall performance view.
  • If applicable, target audiences with Android devices which, now, do not need to provide their consent for tracking purposes. In January 2021, Android made up 72% of the mobile operating systems, worldwide.

All we can do now is monitor the updates and be ahead of the game by taking control of the available resources.


Ad Swerve – Apple iOS 14.5 Is Here: What It Means for Your Google Campaign

Digilant – Apple’s iOS 14.5 Effect on Mobile Measurement

Spotify WSJ Tech News Briefing – Small Businesses Shift Ad Strategies Ahead of Apple iOS Update

Statista – Market share of mobile operating systems worldwide 2012-2021

Tremor – Addressing the Impact of Apple IDFA Privacy Changes