Apple’s new privacy settings in iOS 14 could wreak havoc on your ecommerce advertising efforts

By Matt Collins Article may include affiliate links

Apple’s latest iOS 14 update drops today — and with that comes some pretty big behind the scenes changes to how Apple users’ data and tracking is shared with both Facebook and your ecommerce marketing efforts via the platform.

iOS 14.5 will mainly affect how the Facebook Pixel and other technologies are able to receive and process conversion events.

There’s a long list of rather complex and technical steps to prepare for this change that vary based on your ecommerce platform.

Once you’ve made the updates to your store and Facebook integration, you can expect the processing to take a day or so — during which time you will likely see any custom audiences you use get smaller. Depending on if your users have updated their settings, you may also see a dip in visitor counts (though in reality this just means Facebook can’t accurately count them so your visitor numbers may be staying the same, decreasing or even increasing).

You’ll also likely start seeing reporting delays and increased cost per conversion if linked to events. Lookalike audience tools will become more challenging to use as they are likely to become smaller and less targeted as will any interest based targeting or advertising.

It’s worth noting that most of the changes will only start affecting your store when your audience starts updating their iOS devices. There’s often a bunch of people who update right away but then some wait a bit to make sure any bugs in the release are ironed out before updating. Some may update weeks or months later.

That said, this update has received considerable attention in the press with many stories pointing out the enhanced privacy improvements, so that could have an effect on how many people update sooner rather than later (or vice versa). Another highly anticipated update in 14.5 allows iPhone users who also wear an Apple Watch to unlock their phones even when Face ID can’t recognize the owner due to a face mask being worn.

Because Apple is making these changes at the operating system level it’s a big roadblock to tracking abilities. Apple is requiring app developers to start complying with certain privacy standards that are part of iOS 14.5.

These changes are part of Apple’s crackdown on privacy and tracking that has sparked some feuds between the company and other tech giants.

Many other tech companies are taking closer looks at privacy and how tracking is handled as governments start to take notice of what some call overly obstructive targeting and tracking, so it wouldn’t be surprising if Facebook and other targeted advertising starts becoming affected as well.

Many experts have begun to question the accuracy of tracking via technologies such as JavaScript tags and pixels because ad blockers and other technology can interfere with the data. For example, Google Analytics has become, at least according to some experts, less and less reliable as more people block the tracking either on purpose or as a result of a third party privacy or blocker add on.