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How will Apple’s iOS 14.5 update impact my PPC advertising campaigns?

By Joe McMullen | Digital operations manager



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May 20, 2021 | 7 min read

On April 27 2021, Apple released its iOS 14.5 update, ushering in a new swathe of defaults for internet privacy that are set to have an impact on the way digital advertisers can operate and track the user.

S3 Advertising shares their insight around Apple’s latest iOS 14.5 privacy update and how it could affect agency-run PPC campaigns.

S3 Advertising on how Apple’s latest iOS 14.5 privacy update could affect agency-run PPC campaigns

The changes will give users the ability to choose to block the sharing of unique identifiers (the things that track what you’re seeing and doing online) at App level, which impacts the level of marketing information users give to apps that serve people ads – like Facebook and Instagram.

Will these apps still serve ads? Yes, of course.

But will the targeting be as clever if Facebook isn’t allowed to know as much about you? Possibly not, but there’s still power in the product.

Some estimates suggest up to 80% of users will choose to block the unique identifiers. Now, this is a worst-case scenario and doesn’t account for all the other clever info brands like Facebook will have on you even without knowing your internet history – such as your email, phone number and friends.

How do the iOS 14.5 changes impact digital PPC advertising campaigns?

One change we are noticing on S3 Advertising’s digital advertising team is audience sizes decreasing. This is down to the tailor-made audiences we use when targeting clients’ campaigns – for example, high earners with an interest in luxury holidays – not including people on iOS 14.5 and above.

Another impact is on which conversions (such as your sales and leads) are assigned as being a result of your PPC campaign and which are not. Less tracking means less ability to connect the campaign with the result. However, it’s important to say that the result will still be there.

S3’s statistical modeling PPC reporting methods will still accurately assign conversions to our campaigns, but some will slip through the net. However, you’ll likely notice conversions from another area of your marketing go up – these users will likely have been driven to buy by our PPC campaigns, so together as client and agency we’ll just need to be practical to attribute them to the right part of your marketing mix.

Thirdly, data lag is always a factor when reporting and we are finding that there are more delays in reporting certain results. Low opt-in rates may mean difficulty for advertisers.

This has also meant that we are limited in what we can measure, so the digital team at S3 have prepared for this well in advance by creating Aggregated Event Measurement. This supports advertiser’s efforts to preserve privacy while running effective campaigns.

Finally, the changes limit the amount of Facebook tracking points you can have on one website.

Only eight Facebook conversion events from a single website domain can exist. A domain with multiple Facebook conversions would need to be trimmed in line with the updates.

This is, of a course, a significant blow to Facebook, who announced that they will phase out some of its products, which will complicate measurement for advertisers. This will ultimately mean we have to find new solutions for tracking effectiveness.

However, it will allow us as your digital agency to be more focused in terms of what we’re optimizing websites for – it makes us think about the most important signs that a user may consider converting with us, and pool our resources into that for smarter campaigns.

Where else have privacy changes impacted the digital advertising industry?

Google also made a move towards privacy-first recently too, spelling out a clear trend across big tech. They made changes that will see them – and much of the internet – begin to move away from third-party tracking, the practice of using packaged-up and sold-on datasets to inform your campaigns.

Their reasoning? That ads should work for everyone. This includes publishers, advertisers and, most importantly, the consumers. The removal of third-party tracking from Google’s ad-buying tools means that users of these platforms will now be more reliant on Google itself for the audience measurement and targeting (a shrewd move for Google, some might say).

The overall picture is that third-party data sources are becoming increasingly irrelevant. As the trackers are blinded, quality first-party data (that is earned rather than bought) and audience modeling will gain importance – as will collaborating datasets where legally possible.

Is it all doom and gloom for advertisers?

Absolutely not.

PPC advertising and digital targeting are still hugely powerful tools in a marketers’ box. Even without knowing every little thing you’ve done online, the fact is the internet will still know a good amount about the users that surf it – and used correctly and responsibly this information can be useful in helping connect products and services with the people who want them.

Ultimately, preserve privacy and performance will protect the future of advertising. Advertising agencies, marketing managers and digital specialists just need to be prepared for it.

And at S3 we’re doing just that. Take a look below at three key recommendations we’re giving our clients for reacting to the changes and future-proofing the sustainability of their campaigns.

Overcome the impact of Apple and Google’s privacy changes on PPC campaigns

Your brand message must remain strong, so invest in building it through bold, multi-channel advertising campaigns. It’s important to stay front of mind so that even if users in the market for your product or service don’t straight away get served an ad for it, they know who you are and will come to you. Plus, throughout the Covid-19 pandemic we noticed that maintaining brand presence was vital for businesses. A good brand will ensure brand sustainability is built into their marketing plan, whatever happens in the future.

This is something S3’s managing partner, Becky, wrote about on LinkedIn recently, focusing on the importance of making good brand creative:


Keep your ad agency in the loop with your internal results (such as sales or inquiries). Even if the conversions aren’t tracked through the PPC campaigns anymore due to people opting of tracking, they will still be converting. Seeing the fuller picture of how our campaigns are affecting your business will let us understand what’s working and help us plan out changes to our campaigns to make them even better for you. If you do plan to have more than eight conversions, let your agency know well in advance and we can plan and prioritize.

Joe McMullen is digital operations manager at S3 Advertising.

Technology Digital Advertising Agencies

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S3 Advertising is a fully integrated advertising agency based in Cardiff that helps brands disrupt their markets with campaigns that mix insight, creativity and ROI effectiveness to create ferocious results. We champion bold ideas, achieve ambitious results, make intelligent decisions and do it all to a professional standard.

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