How Apple And Google’s Privacy Updates Impact Your Business

Every time a major data leak occurs (remember the Cambridge Analytica scandal?) consumers demand better privacy protections from the tech giants. Right now both Apple and Google are making privacy a priority. Updates to privacy allow consumers to have better control over how apps, websites and marketers collect the data that is used for analytics and advertising. But how does this impact your small business?

Apple’s Privacy Updates

Apple is making big changes that we’re watching in real time. The latest software for iPhones, iOS 14.5, comes with several new security features. There are two main changes that can impact your marketing efforts:

In-App tracking

You may have noticed that when opening an app (after installing the latest iOS update) a pop up. It reads “Allow (this app) to track your activity across other companies’ apps and websites?” with the option to “Allow” or “Ask App Not To Track”. When a user asks the app not to track, Apple requires them to do just that.

Screenshot of app tracking permissions pop up.

What does this mean for advertising? In a nutshell, your analytics and targeting will be less accurate.

Advertisers are mostly concerned about Facebook ads, here’s why:

When a user asks an app like Facebook not to track it will mean that the advertiser will get less accurate data about how their ads perform. It will also prevent the advertiser from adding these users to remarketing campaigns, and will also mean that targeting options provided by Facebook are less accurate. Finally, it will mean that analytics will be less accurate, making it more difficult to determine ROAS. 

This will have the biggest impact on brands that are tracking direct product sales through Facebook, or advertisers running remarketing campaigns. The challenge stems from the fact that the sales attributed to an ad campaign on Facebook will not match up with your actual results. This means that advertisers running multiple campaigns at the same time will find it more difficult to determine which is actually performing best. 
In response, a Facebook spokesperson said “the company is doing a number of things to try and make up for the changes, including working on new advertising features that require less data to measure an ad’s success.” Despite all the hubbub around these changes, Facebook recorded a record high for ad revenue in Q2 of 2021 telling us that advertisers are not leaving the platform.

Apple Mail

The second major change from Apple impacts the Apple Mail app, with their Mail Privacy Protection feature that is expected to roll out in Autumn 2021. Simply put, this update prevents tracking pixels from working in emails.

What are tracking pixels?

Image of a cell phone and apps.

Many email marketing softwares utilize an invisible tracking pixel to gather data on how their emails perform. This includes email opens, clicks, user location, and more. 

When the Mail Privacy Protection update rolls out it will only impact the Apple Mail app. It means that marketers will not be able to collect information on emails that are read through the Apple Mail app.

What does this mean for small businesses?

Just like the Facebook example above, you’ll have less accurate data on the emails you send. In 2019, 42% of emails are opened on phones, and almost 85% of that is on iPhones, making this privacy update impact around 38.25% of email opens. 

While this seems like a scary number, keep in mind that this is only impacting the analytics, it’s not preventing these people from getting or reading your emails. Email tracking has never been perfect, and this update will require creative solutions, like tracking entrances to your website via email or creating special discount codes or links that are used exclusively for email marketing.

Google’s Privacy Updates

Google has recently updated their timeline for their Privacy Sandbox, a program designed to phase out third-party cookies that are used for tracking. This will have a series of updates from now through 2023 with their current projection. 

While the Privacy Sandbox can sound scary, keep in mind that Google Ads aren’t going anywhere, and Google has a huge interest in keeping advertisers happy. The Privacy Sandbox expressly “aims to create web technologies that both protect people’s privacy online and give companies and developers the tools to build thriving digital businesses to keep the web open and accessible to everyone, now, and for the future.”

Essentially, their goal is to create a universal set of standards that allow consumers to maintain their privacy, and have greater control over how their data is used while allowing businesses to ensure that their ads are effective. This aims to reduce or eliminate more covert approaches to data collection from third-party cookies. All of these plans are laid out on Google’s Privacy Sandbox website.

Despite these changes, digital marketing is still an excellent way to increase your brand’s reach and keep in touch with customers. Whenever changes like these occur it’s understandable to feel worried or frustrated. However, Facebook ads, Google ads, and email marketing aren’t going anywhere. It’s particularly important to keep in mind that these changes aren’t preventing people from seeing or interacting with your business online. While we wait to see how Facebook will respond with alternative analytics, and while we monitor updates from Google, it will simply require changing how we think about tracking a campaign’s success. 

Need help staying up to date with your marketing efforts? Let’s start with a free strategy session to chat more about marketing your business online.