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Apple privacy changes: What to prepare for

Apr 28, 2021

The way we use Facebook ads is changing, and just like other industries, government social media professionals also need to be prepared.

Apple’s iOS 14.5 update released Monday comes with a lot of features —more diverse voices for Siri, a new kissing emoji, and the aspect that has advertising companies concerned, more privacy controls through App Tracking Transparency.

“App Tracking Transparency requires apps to get the user’s permission before tracking their data across apps or websites owned by other companies for advertising, or sharing their data with data brokers,” the company said in a newsroom update Tuesday. “Apps can prompt users for permission, and in Settings, users will be able to see which apps have requested permission to track so they can make changes to their choice at any time.” 

This change to Apple’s IDFA — the identifier for Advertisers — could sound great to many users, however, to developers, this could cause drastic changes in digital advertising, specifically on platforms like Facebook.

After changes to Apple’s IDFA was first announced last June, and was, according to Apple, delayed to “give developers the time they need to make the necessary changes,” Facebook was outspoken against the change.

By taking a stance that this change would severely affect small businesses, Facebook has publicly campaigned against Apple through a website and blogs saying “Small businesses deserve to be heard,” and even ran a series of full-page newspaper ads in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington post with the headline, “We’re standing up to Apple for small businesses everywhere.”

Despite all of the campaigning, the change is here.

While unclear the extent of potential impacts to the digital advertising industry, it’s expected many users will choose to opt-out — due to privacy hacks, data tracking or otherwise — which will most likely cause a needed shift in the way advertisers strategize their digital campaigns. This doesn’t just affect the big box companies or small mom and pop shops — if you’re a government social media professional who places ads on Facebook for your agency or uses the Facebook Pixel to track, you are expected to see a change in metrics, tracking and more. What can you do about it?

While the update is primarily meant for advertisers and private industry, App Tracking Transparency is something that will impact all Facebook Business Accounts,” GSM Digital Marketing Specialist Jovana Caro said. “Because government agency standards vary throughout, socialgov should research the update themselves and take note of anything they think may affect them specifically. It’s important to note that iOS 14 can disproportionately affect other areas in Business Manager as well, such as the Audience Network. It may even be time to look through privacy statements and update data collection sections. I believe the changes from this update won’t stop here and that Facebook may come back with something up their sleeve, which is why it’s best to always be prepared and do the research.”

Facebook already rolled out direct responses to the privacy updates including “new ad measurement protocols — Apple’s SKAdNetwork APT and Facebook’s Aggregated Event Measurement,” according to the company, and as Jovana mentioned, more changes can be expected down the road.

“These protocols restrict, aggregate and delay reporting, while continuing to enable the measurement of campaign results, with limitations,” Facebook said. “Advertisers can expect to see changes in Facebook’s business and advertising tools set up, audience selection, delivery, measurement, and reporting.”

The social network is urging its advertisers to “act now,” and socialgovs should, too. Facebook published resources for you to read through and determine potential changes to make:

Make sure to keep up with any further updates directly from the platform itself (subscribe to Facebook business news here) and get together & ask questions with your fellow peers. If you’re not sure what to do on the developer end or would like advice on how to explain these changes to higher ups, head to our GSM Community Facebook Group or GSM Network to have these important conversations directly with your peers. 

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