Recent shifts in the marketing industry are prioritizing consumer privacy, and Apple and other major tech companies are changing the way they track user activity and use that data for advertising. With data breaches occurring more and more often, these changes are good news for consumers who are concerned about their personal data security. But for brands and marketers, the new policies are creating new challenges to digital advertising campaign performance.
The Apple iOS14 Update
In 2021, Apple released its iOS14 update, which included App Tracking Transparency (ATT). This update required every app downloaded from the App Store to show a prompt asking users to permit or deny the application to track their data and use it for advertising purposes. In the past, the data was tracked unless the user chose to opt out in the app settings.
With ATT, if a user allows data tracking, the app may share device location, user data collected from apps and websites, and emails or advertising IDs from third-party advertising networks. If the user opts out, this information that was once integral to digital advertising campaigns is no longer available.
How Are Google Ads Impacted?
The iOS14 update has sent brands and marketers into a panic over declining Google ad performance. Because users are opting out of data tracking, even ads that are converting are not linking back to the campaign. In the past, a slight adjustment to the campaign could rebound performance, but the external changes brought on with the update are proving difficult to overcome. Since nearly 50% of smartphone users own an Apple device, brands and marketers who rely on Google ads are rethinking their strategies.
Google’s ad network is far more diverse, spanning the entirety of the internet. Search ads that appear on results pages or Google Maps and Shopping sites aren’t affected by ATT since these ads are based on the user’s intent or targeted via keyword bidding and not generated by user behavior.
However, display ads on partneredGoogle sites like YouTube or Gmail are being affected because the campaigns rely on user data like personal interests, age, and gender. Without as much data to match with interest groups, marketers are seeing performance fluctuations in their display campaigns.
This update has been damaging for YouTube marketers. With ATT, cookies are blocked and data is restricted to a single session meaning that conversions will not be sent back to Google in a way that is accurate. Luckily, if the user has linked their Google account to their YouTube account, you may be able to access data about previously watched videos as well as some personal characteristics.
How is Google Responding?
Prior to the release of iOS14 and ATT, Google began enhancing modeled conversions that use data that does not identify the user. While they originally did this to provide advertisers with a more accurate representation of lost attribution, it is also helping make up for some of the data lost to ATT.
To be more transparent with users and build audience trust, Google is implementing an identity verification policy that will require most advertisers to show their legal entity name and location on their ads. The plan will roll out in phases, and advertisers promoting goods and services, information or educational content, and content related to regulatory industries will be selected for verification first.
If you are required to complete the identity verification, you will be notified by Google and have 20 days to submit all required documentation. The verification must be completed by an authorized representative for the business, which by Google’s standards means an authorized admin on the Google ads account or an admin for the payment profile that pays for the ads.
Once the required documentation is submitted, you will have another 30 days to complete any other necessary steps in the verification process. If the process is not completed in those 30 days, or there have been multiple failed attempts to complete verification, the account will be paused, and all ad campaigns will stop.
How are Advertisers Responding?
Because the data privacy landscape is always evolving, you must be sure to research and adapt to the advertising rules of each platform they are using. It is important to stay up-to-date on developing privacy laws that may create region-specific changes to digital advertising. Additionally, you should watch the market for new advertising tools and products that can give them a head start on their competition.
What New Google Products are Available?
The news isn’t all bad for Google advertisers. The crown search engine has also rolled out some new products to help advertisers get the most out of their ad spend.
Google Discovery ads are mobile-first visual ads that became available in 2019. They appear on the Google Discover feed in Gmail and on the mobile YouTube feed. These ads can be managed under a single campaign and use AI to optimize creative and copy output. Anecdotally, many advertisers say they’re seeing higher conversions with Discovery ads compared to search ads.
Google Performance Max
In 2020, Google released Google Performance Max. This tool allows you to manage YouTube, Display, Search, Gmail and Maps ads from a single campaign. These ads complement existing campaigns, and they also use AI to maximize performance. Performance Max ads are said to generate more conversions than any other Google ad campaign.
Where Do Advertisers Go from Here?
The iOS14 update and ATT are making a big impact on digital advertising, but all hope is not lost. There are a few tactics you can implement to combat the negative effects of the update. These methods are improving targeting, bidding, budgeting, and more, and often without much effort from your internal marketing team.
Diversify Channels and Prioritize Good Content
While Google is still the king of digital advertising, sticking with one tool or platform can limit audience and reach. You should always consider placing ads on a variety of channels like social media or affiliate banner ads on reputable websites. Testing out multiple channel combinations can help find the most effective balance. A strong brand and messaging will always be the crux of successful digital ad campaigns, so keeping content fresh and relevant will help boost its reach.
On top of great content, you can shift focus to first-party data. By gathering as much data as possible through social media, email campaigns, surveys and the like, you will have access to first-hand information that doesn’t need to be regulated by external industry changes.
Implementing an advanced AI tool can help you get around ATT and save their teams some time. Adobe Predictive Analytics Tool analyzes customer data to learn behavior patterns and optimize conversions. It has a real-time reporting capability that refreshes every five seconds.
Chatbots are another AI tool that work by gathering data through instant messenger inquiries on a business’s website. These chats are available 24/7 and can be programmed to provide customer service for hundreds of common inquiries. They can also track purchase patterns and create personalized ads. Chatbots have emerged as the leading way to incorporate AI.
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