How Will The Apple iOS 14 IDFA Update Impact Advertisers?

How Will The Apple iOS 14 IDFA Update Impact Advertisers

Someone is watching you. No, there’s someone other than your guiding angels. Data on your smartphone or content in it is not restricted to you, and you knew this before you started reading this blog. Didn’t you?

User activities on smartphones and other intelligent devices are tracked. There is nothing new about it. What may interest you is the most talked-about Apple update that rolled out a few months back. Once updated to the iOS 14.5 version, the iOS users will have complete control over who sees what or if they can see anything at all. The users can block the IDFA identifier at the app after downloading it from the App Store

An identifier for advertisers or IDFA is a typical detector for smartphones. It is an extensively used tool for targeting individual smartphone users and measuring an advertisement’s effectiveness. Over the years, it has been an excellent strategy for different companies who want to push their products or services to a targeted group of customers. Unfortunately, this has been happening at the cost of an individual’s data privacy. The iOS 14 update frees Apple phone users from this compulsion and reinstates data privacy.

How Will The Apple iOS 14 IDFA Update Impact Advertisers

Data Privacy – A Rising Concern 

It may sound like whining a conservative mind, but that doesn’t negate the threats to the data privacy breach. Data is the new oil, and the world is after your data. Your information feeds the marketing and branding strategies of businesses. Hackers and other cybercriminals are after it to steal money from your savings and cause unknown harm for benefitting their interests. Therefore, you need to protect your data from being accessed by unwanted and anonymous sources. Apple has aptly addressed this concern through their iOS 14 updates

Data privacy, explained in simple terms, is your right to be left alone with your data. However, the internet and related services usage has left little to no scope for data privacy. This is why you need to check and ensure data privacy always. 

One of the most important reasons to be concerned about data privacy is you never know when and how they will use it. The consequences can range from using them for running ad campaigns to stealing money and causing other personal attacks. So, this is why you cannot compromise with your data privacy. Prevention is better than cure, so you need to prevent attempts to such privacy breaches. 

How Will The Apple iOS 14 IDFA Update Impact Advertisers
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The Impact Of iOS 14 on Digital Advertising  

Phenomenal growth and expansion of social media reach and influence over ordinary people paved a lucrative way for brands. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Google, TikTok and others depended on user data to feed their campaigns. They track users, obtain data and use it for Facebook ads, Google ads and other ad campaigns. The iOS 14 update will impact advertisers in two major areas – one is in ad targeting, and the other is in ad measurement. 

Impact on ad targeting

The prevailing system allowed brands to target their audiences at the device level. IDFA is a random number used to identify a specific advertisement. It used to track your activity on the apps you download either from the Play Store or the App Store. Every smartphone comes with a unique ID; Apple phones also have one each. We are talking about iOS update and their consequences, so that I will talk about iOS phones. So, advertisers could easily track your activities; know what you clicked, what you bought, what apps you have installed, what videos you watch and other few things. So, you see, there is no room for privacy. Based on the obtained information, they would classify you as an identified customer and target you for other digital advertising

Apple took up this issue with the iOS 14 update and allowed the users exclusive right to block unwanted IDFAs. Thus, the Apple phones of individual customers who will disable sharing their IDFA will become inaccessible. The advertisers won’t be able to target them. The impact of iOS 14 on digital advertising is a critical limitation. 

Impact on ad measurement

How an advertisement performs is crucial and decides its effectiveness. Besides ad targeting, different digital advertisements are tracked to know their performance. Advertisers track users to know about the campaign performance. After the iOS 14 update, users who have opted out of sharing their IDFAs will not be tracked. Their devices will become unreachable, and no data can be retrieved from there. Hence, it is pretty challenging to say how it will affect ad measurement.

How Will The Apple iOS 14 IDFA Update Impact Advertisers
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Potential Alternatives To Dilute Limitations Built By The iOS 14.5 Update

While we hate being exposed to a data privacy breach, we cannot deny loving those timely updates and offers from our favourite brands. Can you deny that? It would be difficult for most of us to say that we don’t like it. However, you can explore the middle path. Here I am suggesting a few safe ways to enjoy the best from both situations. 

  • You can turn off the unique identifier and take a chance by allowing app tracking transparency.
  • There are a good number of popular and verified apps that you can trust. However, I would suggest you not to trust them blindly. Keep an eye for the odds and change your settings as soon as possible.
  • Make up your mind to not get provoked by different digital advertisements. The advertisers cannot do much if you are not interested. So make sure to show your inclination to only the brands you trust.           

Data privacy is your right, and Apple goes a step ahead in ensuring that for you. The iOS IDFA update’s impact on advertising further highlights the stance. However, you can always be a part of the custom audiences and restrict any unwanted usage of your data. 

App developers across the globe are some of the busiest professionals because businesses are switching over to online selling and operation. You will have more tempting brands who would try to impress with their line of products or services. It’s fantastic to shop for your favourite brands in real-time and from the comfort of your home. However, make sure to keep up your data privacy. 

The Privacy Debate: Apple vs Facebook

The Privacy Debate: Apple vs Facebook

In 2020, Apple announced its new product and policy changes at the annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). The announcement happened back in June last year. However, you might not be familiar with it as Apple later decided to push back the changes until early 2021.

Well, 2021 has begun, and the tech giant has decided that it is now the right time to roll out its new software update, which will be available in iOS 14. Known as the Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA), the latest update will require apps to obtain permissions from users before tracking their online activity. IDFA is a unique, random and resettable device identifier (ID) assigned to iOS users.

Privacy is one of Apple’s most well-known core values, and its products include features with innovative privacy techniques. The privacy policy is to minimize and prevent the amount of information accessed by anyone other than the user. After all, their website claims that they believe privacy is “a fundamental human right”.

Apple has incorporated plenty of privacy technologies and functions into many of its in-built apps. These include (but are not limited to):

  • Safari
  • Maps
  • Photos
  • Siri
  • iMessage
  • Wallet & Apple Pay

Listing what privacy technology each app has would take too long and be too much to digest for our short article, so we’ve taken the liberty of linking you to Apple’s website here where they explain in detail how each of their apps protects your privacy.

So what’s the big hoo-ha over Apple’s latest update?

Facebook’s stance

In response to the upcoming iOS update, Facebook ran a few full-page newspaper advertisements attacking Apple’s plans for IDFA and data sharing in December 2020. Claiming to speak on behalf of small businesses, Facebook continued its protests further by publishing a few blog posts and even set up a new website — all in a bid to pressure Apple to retract its pending update as well as to inform everyone of the consequences this might have.

Facebook full page newspaper ad

In December 16th 2020, specifically, Facebook listed 5 points that will be limited by the new update from iOS 14, which are:

  1. Effectively deliver ads to people based on their engagement with your business
  2. Measure and report conversions from specific customers
  3. Ensure your ads shown to the most relevant audiences at the right frequency
  4. Accurately attribute apps install to people using iOS 14 and later
  5. Predict and optimize cost per action over time and efficiently allocate budgets for ads

According to Facebook, such an update will ultimately benefit Apple as small businesses rely on their ability to run personalized ads to survive. Small businesses could see a cut of up to 60% of their website sales from ads since general ads would be less effective than personalized ones. These businesses would turn to charging consumers for subscription fees or adding more in-app purchases to make ends meet.

Therefore, Apple stands to gain from this as it collects commissions from its app store, as per its policy. Furthermore, Apple’s personalized ad platform excluded from its new software update, which only benefits Apple themselves. Not to mention, a subscription-based internet would reduce the quality of free-content and make the internet more expensive.

Facebook has also hosted three webinars to help web and app advertisers prepare for this change, which anyone could sign up for:

“We disagree with Apple’s approach and solution, yet we have no choice but to show Apple’s prompt. If we don’t, they will block Facebook from the App Store, which would only further harm the businesses and users that rely on our services. We cannot take this risk on behalf of the millions of businesses who use our platform to grow.”

– Facebook

Apple’s stance

Apple denounced Facebook’s protests in a statement by claiming that the App Tracking Transparency in iOS 14 does not require Facebook to change its approach to tracking users and creating targeted advertising. It merely requires them to give users a choice.

Interesting enough, users have always been able to opt-out of IDFA tracking, though it is not a well-known fact as the process to do so is rather complicated and difficult to find. With the new update, IDFA will become opt-in rather than opt-out by prompting users to allow tracking. An example of such a prompt can be seen below where users will tell exactly what information an app wishes to tap into.

IDFA tracking

This kind of consent interface is not new, particularly for iOS users. It is also replicated for other permissions such as when an app requests access to your photos, camera, microphone or location. Adding third-party tracking to that list helps protect users from abuse by allowing them to control what each app they use can and should access. AppTrackingTransparency preferences can be set for each app individually or for all apps, depending on the user.

Facebook’s attempt to call Apple out for uprooting small businesses can be seen as hypocritical by some. The media giant has recently faced backlash over the lack of support for small businesses regarding their Facebook Help Centre. Of course, with 10 million advertisers on Facebook, it is inevitable for them to turn to automation to answer the many questions it receives a day.

Additionally, Covid-19 has reduced its regular staff capacity when more businesses than ever are turning to the platform for their promotional efforts. While this may not necessarily be Facebook’s fault, its stance against Apple’s IDFA has many raising questions on how much the media giant actually cares about small businesses.

Top that with the fact that Facebook has a poor track record of anti-competitive behaviour and privacy issues and you might start to side with Apple on their pro-privacy policy changes.


While Apple’s new software changes might seem to be a radical leap, it may not necessarily result in negative consequences in the long run — even for small businesses. After all, the advertising industry has long promoted the notion that personalized and targeted ads are better.

However, several studies have shown that most of the money made from targeted advertising does not in fact reach the creators of the content, including the app developers. More often than not, the profits end up in the pockets of data brokers — companies that collect or buy your personal information to sell it to others.

In reality, small businesses cannot compete with large ad distribution networks, the ones who really get to control the ad industry. Since targeted advertising is seen as superior to other methods of reaching customers, anything else will inherently command less value on ad markets.

This not only means that ads have a lower ad value if they aren’t targeting users, but it also drives the flow of money away from innovation that could otherwise bring us different advertising methods that don’t involve invasive profiling and targeting.

As an example, non-targeted ads such as “contextual” ads could be a good alternative — if only more research and development were done to optimize it. These are ads based not on your personal information but only on the content of the webpage you are visiting at the time.

Of course, there could just as well be a short-term solution to all this — personalized advertising and privacy do not have to be at odds with each other. Small businesses who are worried about the immediate effects such an update might have on them can only hold on to the hope that both Apple and Facebook can find a middle ground for all of this.