The early results for Apple’s new iOS 14.5 are in. In this piece, Kat Warboys, Marketing Director, APAC at HubSpot explains what the evolving consumer expectations around privacy mean for businesses.
The world of security and data privacy is constantly evolving, and while many marketers are now used to this rollercoaster ride, this month’s iOS changes made by Apple raised many eyebrows. With the update, the data collected from Apple mobile devices will change, and as a result, marketers’ strategy to target and understand their customers will also need to change. Early signs point to consumers not wanting to be tracked, with recent figures showing Australia’s early iOS tracking opt-in rates were lower than anticipated, with the industry reporting 10 per cent on average (in the first week), slightly lower than the global average of 13 per cent.
But with many consumers becoming accustomed to the personalised and contextual experience that comes from app tracking, which will be lost if turned off, could this be a short-term hurdle for marketers, or is it something much more significant?
Consumers are driving a greater push for transparency
For years, brands have been tracking consumers’ activity across the web to improve their user experience and collect data that helps them target ads to the right audiences. Brands also use them to learn about what visitors are checking out online when they aren’t on company websites. However, marketers, over time, have continued to lose more ability to track and understand consumers. The move has been driven by consumers demanding greater privacy — including transparency, choice, and control over how their data is being used — and it’s clear the web ecosystem needs to evolve to meet these increasing demands.
This isn’t a new hurdle; third-party cookies have been crumbling over the past year, with many businesses accepting that behavioural targeting is limited in what it can accurately deliver. Over the next year, while businesses adapt, we can expect to see a more significant impact on smaller retargeting audiences and less precise retargeting, especially regarding lookalike audiences. Conversion tracking will also be impacted, with less information and data accessible on how consumers interact with advertising content. By mid-2021, there will be even fewer attribution options with the sunsetting of Facebook analytics, again putting strain on businesses.
Businesses should optimise for their audience
So, what do low opt-in rates mean for marketers beyond iOS? Currently, Apple has around a 53 per cent share of the Australian smartphone market. While Apple’s App Tracking Transparency updates could significantly change the relationship between users and the apps they use, the size of its impact is still somewhat uncertain; there are a few areas marketers can still lean into and optimise for the right audiences. Firstly, use your website’s tracking capabilities or analytics tools to understand where your visitors are coming from and create audiences based on those visitors. Secondly, amp up your organic efforts by taking a closer look at your organic social media and content strategy. Then use that data to strengthen your brand and create engaging marketing that people love. Lastly, don’t forget about Android campaigns; the iOS 14.5 update only affects Apple devices and users, so you can still segment your audiences by Android users and target them across their journey.
Some companies have been hit harder than others. Brands like Facebook are actively trying to encourage users to opt-in — warning users that free services may be removed unless they opt-in for tracking. Could this help increase opt-in rates for other apps too? It’s still up in the air. But, it’s a good idea to start looking into different ways to market your business digitally. Many platforms, including HubSpot, offer ad management, as well as testing and reporting. Although Facebook may be the most significant player in the game right now, there are other options. Marketers have adapted to updates and changes in the past, moving from traditional to digital marketing and from one platform to another. This update could be life-changing, or it could inspire a new way of reaching customers. While times ahead are uncertain and may not seem ideal for marketers and advertisers, the industry is likely to evolve and find ways to reach prospective customers.
As Apple continues to roll out this update, businesses should be paying close attention to how advertisers respond and are agile and receptive to customer feedback. At HubSpot, we always try to strike a balance between giving our customers the tools they want while also being mindful of the impact those tools have on their audience. We have a Customer Code that outlines a shared list of principles and beliefs on how to build a company that customers love, and one of the core tenets is to “use my data, but don’t abuse it”. In essence, it means data should only be used when the end result is a customer’s life becomes a little easier or convenient.
Many consumers have grown accustomed to the personalised and contextual experience that comes from app tracking, and as it is still early days, we may see opt-in rates increase over the coming months as people miss their personalised content. I know I will be turning mine on as I love the personalised experience. Will you?
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