What iOS 14 and Google’s Cookie-Less Future Mean For Marketers

Are you ready for a world without cookies?

The business as usual way of measuring marketing effectiveness is changing, spurred by two major shifts from both Apple and Google. Apple’s iOS 14 privacy update and Google’s move away from Cookies will require dramatic, and in some cases uncomfortable, changes from marketing teams and publishers like Facebook. There are solutions ready to go, but they will require development resources. Buckle up – because we’re laying it all out on the table for you. Here’s everything you need to know about what each of these changes are, why it matters for your business and how you can stay ahead of the curve.

Table of Contents

Apple iOS 14 Update

What is happening and why should you care about iOS 14?

Apple introduced a privacy feature that will require apps to notify users of the data used and require the user to OPT-IN to the data use. This is a significant change from the company’s previous opt-out stance, but creates a particularly difficult situation for publishers like Facebook in particular. That’s why its initial response involved an aggressive PR blitz – including taking out a full page ad slamming Apple for threatening small businesses who rely on Facebook to grow their business. It’s such a hot button issue that Mark Zuckerberg is expected to step back in to manage through the Apple update transition.

Apple’s new privacy opt-in will require app developers to provide detailed information about how data is used as well as prompting users to approve app tracking.

How iOS 14 will impact Facebook advertisers

As users choose to opt out, Facebook’s access to user data will be severely compromised. In consequence, advertisers will also lose access to those potential customers. A few key changes advertisers should expect… Conversion events will be capped at 8 max and advertisers will no longer be able to use custom events. The other side effect is that conversion reporting will lose accuracy, which will likely have a negative impact on campaign performance. 

Facebook's solution to iOS 14 - "CAPI"

Facebook’s official solution to Apple restricting pixel data? Shifting to a system that involves sharing actual customer PII data (hashed of course). Instead of tracking opt out users through anonymous website pixels, advertisers will now rely on uploading actual customer PII data. The ironic outcome of Apple’s attempt to “promote” more data privacy. Here’s an overview of how Facebook’s CAPI will work – in a nutshell.

What you need to do right now to prepare for iOS 14

  • Verify your Facebook domain.
  • Prioritize your 8 most important conversion events.
  • Switch from using custom events to custom conversions (see below).
Custom Conversions | An Alternative for Custom Events

Using Custom Conversions is a great way to work around the 8 event limit in the new iOS update. Use the same event while using the URL to determine special events. This is a great use case for hotels and sports teams.

Hotel Example each hotel is on the same domaing but have unique ID’s in the URL. Using this ID, you can set a custom conversion to fire on the regular purchase event to report on each hotel individually.

Google Retired Cookies for FLOC

What is happening and why should you care about the cookie-less future?

In addition to iOS 14, Google announced it will no longer support 3rd party cookies and most recently announced an alternative called Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLOC). 3rd party cookies allow advertisers to collect and store website behavior on user’s browsers (cookies) and send that data back to their servers through pixels. In other words, if you visit a website using Google Chrome, Google tracks you and allows advertisers to target you. The company announced years ago that they were getting rid of 3rd party cookies starting in 2021. 

This move gives Google a privacy win but it has been met with harsh criticism from Privacy and internet freedom advocates such as the EFF for solidifying Google’s monopolistic grip on the internet.

How will retiring cookies affect advertisers?

  • Search, YouTube, Display, Facebook, Affiliate, and all other online advertising on Google Chrome will be directly impacted.
  • Potentially less data for Facebook and display DSP/DMP’s.
  • No longer allows 1-to-1 retargeting.
  • Targeting is only 95% as effective as before.
Diagram | Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLOC)

How can advertisers prepare for this change?

  1. Move to offline event data pushing vs. pixels. Think in house analytics or customer data platforms (CDPs) that push web sessions.
  2. Figure out how to move PII data securely.
  3. Update privacy policies to allow for the movement of PII to media services.

Final thoughts.

Be quick and nimble to activate a solution. The solutions are out there ready to be implemented. Be an early adopter and do not fail behind the competitors.

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