By Bev Strickland, Managing Director of Strictlymarketing
Those of us who work in marketing have come to understand the importance and value of capturing and utilising data to develop marketing campaigns which effectively target the right audience.
It’s a bit like one of those memes about what people think marketers do as opposed to what we actually do – sure, the creative side and bouncing around of ideas remains central but data collection has now also joined those ranks.
And the ability to collect, analyse and interpret data has become more important with the release of Apple’s iOS 14.5 operating system update earlier this year and the announcement of additional data privacy controls for users under the iOS 15 update to be released later this year.
There is no doubt Apple has continued to set the benchmark in customer service by introducing new privacy controls in its iOS 14.5 operating system update, giving iPhone users the ability to stop their data being collected from websites and apps.
To put it in the simplest possible terms, users of Apple devices will now have a say in whether their online browsing and shopping history (data) can be collected and used by advertisers to target ads at them through digital platforms.
The result will certainly be a shrinking pool of secondary data to draw on when developing and delivering digital marketing campaigns, which may well mean finding new ways to build trust with consumers, so they willingly share their data.
The change and reason behind it
The privacy updates are a response to concerns among iPhone users and Apple itself, about the collection of private data when websites and apps are accessed using a smartphone, with Apple stating “nothing is more important than maintaining users’ trust”.
The iOS14.5 update rolls out the AppTrackingTransparency framework which requires apps and websites to display a pop up explicitly requesting permission to track user activity across different websites and apps.
“On average, apps include six ‘trackers’ from other companies, which have the sole purpose of collecting and tracking people and their personal information,” Apple explained in a January 2021 statement.
“Data collected by these trackers is pieced together, shared, aggregated, and monetized, fueling an industry valued at $227 billion per year.”
Under the data privacy change, app developers and businesses applying for an identifier for advertisers (IDFA) from Apple, are required to include the ATT via a pop up requesting permission to track the user’s activity on apps and websites belonging to other businesses.
A business which does not hold an IDFA, cannot have its apps included in the Apple App Store.
The iOS 15 update provides additional layers of security – for a cost. A monthly subscription will be available where users can have their website history encrypted using Apple’s virtual private network (VPN) and are able to generate false emails to satisfy the criteria of many websites requiring this before you can enter, thus protecting your own email details.
The silver lining
As with everything in life, there is always a silver lining and you don’t need to look too hard to find it in this case.
Digital marketing agencies such as Strictlymarketing will need to find new ways to gather first party data and better ways to utilise the data which is available to them, but it also means the data gathered will be absolutely relevant to each business.
If a consumer agrees to have their data tracked, it provides a well of data ready to be collected. If they decline to have their data tracked, they will need to be better targeted with digital advertising to that general demographic.
This will mean increasing a business’s profile and engagement on social media and through other means of marketing are essential.
Anyone unsubscribing from your database is doing you and themselves a favour – they are less likely to be peppered with advertising which is irrelevant to them, and the business is better able to target an audience which holds a genuine interest in that sector.
What it means for marketing
The release of Apple’s ATT framework and the requirement for apps and websites to explicitly ask permission of a user to track their data across other websites and apps, is simply an evolution of our digital world where consumers want their data protected.
While it may at first appear to be a devastating blow for digital marketers who have historically used tracked data to design and deliver effective digital advertising campaigns, it is actually a chance to ensure we are collecting data which is relevant and targeted to specific audiences.