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How the New iOS 14 Update May Affect You

Do you ever read those lengthy Terms & Conditions statements? How about the Owner’s Manual of the newest product you just bought? Me either. But, when it comes to the new Apple iOS 14 rollout, maybe we should pay attention to what it means for us.

If you haven’t heard yet, Apple is rolling out an option in their latest iOS 14 updates that will allow you to “opt-out” of tracking across apps and websites for advertising.  This is only part of the new iOS 14 (check out all of the new Apple iOS 14 features here), but this “opt-out” feature is what has advertisers losing sleep at night.

Let’s press the pause button quickly here and let me say there are A LOT of moving parts to this issue. There are strong feelings on both sides and several big players in the game. I’m not here to comment on all of that at this time (maybe some articles in the future 🤔). This article is simply to give you a consumer perspective (from an advertiser) that you may or may not have considered. And, to remind all of us that we need to know what we are clicking on and why. Ok – we can get back to it now…

I have personally only received the pop-up message once as of the time of this writing. It was regarding a fast-food app (please keep in mind that this new update will affect more than just Facebook). According to Apple, this is what the pop-up may look like and, from my one-time experience, this is a good indication of what you can expect.

Apple’s example of what the new iOS Opt-In or Opt-out of Tracking may look like

A Brief Advertiser’s Perspective on the New iOS 14 Update

So, we now have a choice – which is very exciting! I am all for knowing where my data is going, how it is being used, and having the choice to opt-out from tracking if I would like to.  I am the biggest fan of keeping personal information just that, personal. 

(In fact, on a side note, if you are looking for the latest information in data privacy laws, you should take a look at Miller Operation’s Data Privacy Map. It’s updated as new regulations are proposed or adopted. Yes, I am serious about data privacy!)

As an advertiser, this is going to be a bit challenging.  To put it as simply as I can, if a person turns off tracking, then an advertiser will lose the ability to retarget that person as easily.  More goes into it than that, but that is for a different discussion.  I want to talk to you as a consumer.

A Consumer’s Perspective on the New iOS 14 Update

So, how might the new Apple iOS 14 update affect you? Let’s take a look.

How often do you mute commercials on your television or fast-forward them completely? What if the commercials were tailored to items that you had previously purchased?

For example, what if your “smart” television knew that you loved a particular clothing line, so you saw commercials for the hottest trends from that line or clothing lines that looked very similar?  Would you still mute your television or would you want to be the first to “see and be seen” in the new looks? 

Digital Advertising is Here To Stay

You see, advertising is here to stay.  In fact, advertising has been around much longer than cell phones, social media, tracking code, etc.  I may be showing my age here, but I remember when companies bought ads in the yellow pages (kids, you’re going to have to “google” the term “yellow pages” to find out what they were). Companies bought the large boxed-in ads in the yellow pages so that you would call them first before you called their competitors.  But they had no other way of tailoring the ads to YOU personally.  They were just hoping they caught your eye when you searched – and, sometimes, it worked.

Now, with tracking code, we can “teach” platforms, such as Facebook, which ads we want to see! (Is your mind blown yet?) 🤯

Example of How To Train Your News Feed To See the Ads You Want to See

As I just said, ads are not going away.  If you click, “Ask App not to Track” in the pop-up, you are still going to see ads!  Let that sink in for a minute.  What you are choosing is to not allow the app (such as Facebook) to track you on third-party websites.  When you leave Facebook, for example, because you click on a “Learn More” button in an ad and head over to a website, you will not be tracked.  Therefore, Facebook will not be able to report that information back to the advertiser and they will not be able to retarget you as easily (for example, if you leave something in your cart).

But you will still receive ads. So, what will you see now? It stands to reason, that if you opt-out, you will begin to see ads that are not as tailored to your particular interests.

An Example of Tracking Code In Action

Let me give you my real-life example.  I enjoy wine.  I love to learn about it, taste it, try new labels and vintages, etc.  It’s kind of my thing.  The way that I have “trained” my Facebook tracking code is I make sure that I always click on wine-related ads that come across my Feed. I began receiving the ads because of an online purchase that I made (tracking code working right there) and then I trained it to continue the ads by always clicking on wine ads that came my way.

Does this mean that I am always interested in buying the wine that Facebook puts in front of me? Gosh, no! In fact, there have been some labels that I have tried that I didn’t care for, but because I had purchased (tracking code again), they retargeted me (great marketing). But I still click on their ads, even if I’m not interested in that exact label for several reasons:

  • Maybe they have something new on their site that I might be interested in now (after all, it’s still an interest of mine).
  • Most importantly, I want to continue seeing “wine” related ads – wine, wine glasses, wine products, trips to wineries, etc.  And I know that this is how Facebook “learns.”  If I click on the ads and show interest in products that I enjoy, Facebook will keep putting related ads in front of me.

The opposite might happen if I were to opt-out of the tracking code.  Again, a real-life example.  I am not a cat person. Sorry – but I’m allergic – so they just aren’t for me.  If an advertiser wants to promote the latest and greatest cat food, they are going to want to target cat lovers.  They will not receive a great return on their ad spend if I see the ad.  There is no way I need to buy their wonderful cat food because I don’t own a cat. 

However, if I have opted out of the tracking and Facebook (or any platform) is having a hard time learning what my interests and likes are, I may begin to see ads for cat food.  There are two undesirable outcomes in that scenario:

  1. The advertiser is not receiving the best return on their advertising spend (not a great “bang for their buck”).
  2. More importantly, as a consumer, I am seeing ads that I don’t want to see! It is just “muddying” up my News Feed when I could be looking at adorable pictures of my nieces instead (or ads that I am actually interested in and might want to make a purchase from).

It’s Your Choice

Ultimately, it is your choice on whether you choose to be tracked or not.  And listen, I completely see both sides of the coin in this situation and I do not think there is a right or wrong answer.  I think you have to weigh both sides and make the decision for yourself. 

But, before you make that decision, I think it is all too easy to immediately press the “Ask App not to Track” button without really considering how it could affect what you see in the future. 

Yes, you won’t be tracked in some instances (and, again, I am big on privacy), but you may not see the types of ads and products that you have come to enjoy in the past.

I think the fact that we have the choice is a great step.  We as consumers need to take the time to read the Terms & Conditions and make sure we are always making informed decisions.

Let’s continue the discussion! Let me know in the comments below what your experience has been with the opt-in or out pop-up. Have you seen it yet? I want to hear from you!