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6 min read

How iOS14 affects marketers

This article was updated on: 07.02.2022

Has the much-predicted doom of cookies arrived?

Browsers like Safari and Firefox already block third-party tracking cookies, and Google plans to phase out cookies by 2022.

Apple have been a key voice in the conversation around user privacy – and have announced changes coming into place in early 2021. Apple says this will give consumers more control of who gets to use their data and what’s done with it.

This new policy – known as App Tracking Transparency (ATT) and the accompanying update iOS14 – is causing a lot of speculation (and even panic) in Paid Media circles. But should it?

Ahead of our Future of Tracking and Attribution webinar in April, read this blog to find out how iOS14 will affect marketers, and what you can do to prepare your strategies for the changing data landscape.

What is iOS14?

This new iOS 14 policy will prohibit certain data collection and sharing unless people specifically opt into tracking.

This “opt-out” will be the most significant change ever made to an operating system as it pertains to data privacy – and may have a significant impact on advertising as many people, particularly in the US and UK, access the internet via Apple devices.

While many people, from governments to consumers and tech giants alike, agree that increased control and awareness on personal data security is needed – this change could revolutionise ad personalisation.

Since the introduction of tracking Pixels, marketers have been getting ever-richer data to power individual ad personalisation. Apple’s imminent iOS update seems to be a major setback in how we can target consumers.

From what we know so far, if iOS users elect to opt out of tracking, the domino effect may be as follows:

  • If Ads platforms are not able to track user behavior, the effectiveness of tracking pixels and all of its implications is severely diminished. This may result in inaccurate reporting for conversions all the way down to ineffective remarketing efforts.
  • Targeting options will be weakened. That means the ability to create hyper-personalized ads to audiences may be hindered.
  • Less targeting options might mean more wasted spend and less personalization of ad copy, products or imagery.

Responses from Ads platforms


Facebook has been a vocal opponent of the changes – as increased user privacy may have a negative impact on Facebook’s powerful advertising system and therefore ad revenue – or in FB’s words ‘iOS14 will hurt small businesses’ who rely on ads.

There are significant changes to the Facebook Ads platform ahead. Disruption will vary depending on what kind of advertiser you are – and will affect App and Conversion campaigns the most. Please read the full details here.

In summary, platform-wide changes include:

  • Reporting limitations
    • No breakdowns of demographics or device for conversion data
    • Delayed reporting – real-time reporting will not be supported and data may be delayed up to three days
    • Changes to attribution window settings – longer windows removed, new default is max. 7 day click, 1 day view
      • This may result in a decrease in the number of reported conversions if previous windows were the default 28 day click, 1 day view
    • Aggregated Events management – statistical modelling will account for estimated results from iOS14 users
  • Event limitations – your pixel may only optimise for a maximum of eight conversion events for each domain. Ad sets that were optimising for a pixel conversion event that is no longer available will be turned off. 
  • Targeting limitations – custom audiences based on website likely to reduce in size
  • Bidding strategies – if you choose the cost cap or minimum ROAS bid strategy in an app/conversion campaign, your ad set should be scheduled to run at least three full days.


Google has been relatively quiet, so far. The majority of information released so far is around app advertising.

“Apple’s ATT changes will reduce visibility into key metrics that show how ads drive conversions (like app installs and sales) and will affect how advertisers value and bid on ad impressions. As such, app publishers may see a significant impact to their Google ad revenue on iOS after Apple’s ATT policies take effect. To help improve iOS monetization rates, we encourage developers to upgrade to version 7.64 of the Google Mobile Ads SDK for new features like SKAdNetwork support.”

Google, March 2021

Read Google’s statement full statement here


Twitter hasn’t released much information, other than that they expect ATT will largely impact App Install and App Re-engagement products.

There has been a limited acknowledgement that iOS14 may impact on other types of campaigns, and audience targeting.

A lot is still unknown – however Twitter have said to keep an eye out for further updates:

“No immediate action is needed at this time for advertisers who leverage products other than our App Installs products. We’d expect this to change as we move into Q2/Q3.”

Twitter, March 2021

Read Twitter’s full statement here.


Similar response to Facebook. The largest impact is likely to be Custom Audiences – with Pixel, and Snap Audience Match (SAM) and Dynamic Retargeting Audiences reduced. 

  • There has been some clarity on impact for Mobile Web advertisers vs. Mobile App advertisers
  • Snapchat have created checklists for ensuring you are ready for the change – with more preparation required for the App advertisers
  • There are a number of confirmed changes to the actual ads platform, however they look minor so far
    • Longer attribution windows deprecated.
    • Certain reporting Dimensions and Timeframes will be impacted for iOS Opt-outs only. 

Learn more on Snapchat’s website.

Microsoft, Pinterest, LinkedIn

No statements released so far.

Actions you can take to prepare your Facebook account

There are three general recommended changes for all Facebook advertisers. If relevant, there may be more changes prompted within your Ads Manager account, under the new Resource Centre tab.

In most cases, the changes will need to be executed by the ad account/domain owner, rather than a partner or agency.

  1. Follow process for Facebook Domain Verification
  2. Set up Aggregated Event Measurement. If you have more than 8 website events, here’s where you can restructure for fewer events.
  3. Implement Conversions API
  4. Update to latest SDK (app advertisers only)

The last stage is to brief other stakeholders or clients about the changes.

One tactic commonly used has been to adopt the Comparing Windows feature to see how conversions attributed to ads compare across different attribution windows. This allows you to better anticipate the impact to reported conversions as a result of upcoming attribution window changes.

Ads Manager Settings Top Tip

Has conversions and revenue data started to disappear from some campaigns in Ads Manager?

This is due to attribution windows – old ad sets with longer attribution windows will not be updated, and if attribution windows are ‘Multiple’ you won’t see total results.

Solution: Update all active & inactive ad sets to the same attribution window. A quick way to do this is to turn old ads off and on. The new default attribution window should be applied – and you’ll get your total results by campaign back.

What’s next?

Get prepared to change your approach to advertising with less granular 3rd party data – the industry’s focus on regulating data sharing and privacy is only going to increase in 2021 and beyond.

Right now, there’s a fair amount of ambiguity that will be resolved as the changes roll out – and when we know the impact, you can pivot your strategy.

If you would like to learn more about the wider conversation within the ad tech and measurement ecosystem, check out our webinar on the topic or get in touch.