Apple upends Digital Ads with iOS Update

When it comes to digital marketing, change is pretty much a constant undercurrent in the business. Not a week goes by without some platform changing their algorithm, introducing some new feature or some new trend emerging. Apple’s iOS update was more severe – affecting pretty much every ad, every platform, every audience. If you’re an Apple user you’ve probably been asked if you would like to “Allow Tracking.” Everywhere from apps on your phone, iPad or even AppleTV.

Some apps, like Facebook and Instagram, will encourage you to allow tracking for a “more personalized experience” and more importantly to “keep the app free” in order to boost the numbers of people choosing ‘Allow.’ Before the update and estimated 70% of users allowed apps/advertisers to track, presumably unknowingly. That number is expected to drop to 10 to 15% because now Apple will actually ask you if that’s ok.

Immediate Steps

The big question is of course what changes for advertisers. We put together a list of immediate action steps to at least be prepared for what’s happening


  • Set up Business Manager
  • Verify your domain/s
  • Set up 2 Factor Authentication
  • Verify conversion events for all existing campaigns


  • Display, Video and other campaigns using web-based conversion goals may see performance fluctuations
  • Monitor the performance and delivery of all iOS App campaigns closely 


  • Only  iOS 14 Dedicated Campaigns will reach Apple devices running new OS

The Relevancy Factor

Clearly the biggest problem for advertisers is that platforms will mostly be blind to conversions on third party apps. Blind to actions. Blind to a lot of things. At the same time we expect more of ad awareness, fueled by ads that seem to be just a little (or a lot) less relevant. An ad for a car might not be so bad when you’re car shopping. An ad for a car might seem outlandish for a Manhattanite that doesn’t want or need even a drivers license. Advertisers are used to picking micro audiences, determining intent, and tracking conversions without much regard to the privacy of the user. And technically it doesn’t hurt us unless it seems a little too invasive.

I’ve had the experience a few months back: I was car shopping in a private browser window on my desktop on one of the more popular sites, but not one that I had ever seen an ad for. That evening in the living room I get an ad for that very site on my connected TV. Some might say I was hyper aware and imagining things. Others, me included, would say that I received an ad (re)targeted to the IP address that was clearly car shopping earlier in the day. It’s not weird until it happens to you. And even though I was weirded out maybe a little, it wasn’t as bad as the annoying ad that I keep getting at the moment … that by the way is making sure that I wouldn’t book on if it was the last site on the Internet.

Looking Forward

In the bigger picture, Apple’s gamble is that users in general want privacy. On the other hand, marketing genius Gary Vee has been saying for years that people will readily and willingly trade privacy for convenience. At least in the United States that is. Do we object to tracking enough to put up with ads that are totally irrelevant? Time will tell, in the meantime be prepared to keep a close eye on your conversions and ad performance … and get a bunch of ads that are targeted a little less.

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Apple upends Digital Ads with iOS Update

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