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Google and Apple are rolling out changes to give consumers more control over how their online activities and private information can be tracked for marketing. As the two dominant operating systems release new features that allow individuals to prevent websites and applications from collecting their data, organizations must identify ways to respect customer privacy while effectively marketing their products. and services.

At the heart of these transformative changes are two technologies facing obsolescence: cookies and IDFAs / advertising identifiers.

Google cookiesGoogle cookies

Tracking cookies

Cookies are text files containing a small amount of data used by websites to remember information about visitors. They are used in the first party context to remember an individual’s online state or preferences on a website. Cookies can also be used to track information about other websites that an individual has visited.

Android Advertiser ID and Advertising ID

Similar to the function of cookies, IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers) and AAID (Google Advertising ID for Android) are respectively used by Apple and Google and by developers on their operating systems to track the activities of users of mobile devices. Like cookies, IDFA and AAID can be used to track activity in the app as well as activity on third party websites and apps.

What changes with tracking cookies?

Cookies do not disappear! At this time, there is no viable alternative for the cookie. First-party cookies will always be used to track customer preferences and status. However, Firefox, Safari, and Chrome have already started offering people the option to block third-party cookies. While these settings were historically hidden and unused by the vast majority of people, they will soon come to the fore. By 2022, third-party cookies will be blocked by default for nearly 90% of Internet users.

Chronology of third-party cookies

How is IDFA evolving?

On the release of iOS 14.5, users who installed the update were prompted when they opened an app, giving them the choice to allow tracking or ask the app not to. to follow.

iOS 15 will take that same further. Not only will the next version of Apple’s operating system provide users with a « privacy dashboard, » which will detail all application access and tracking requests, but it will also prevent developers from accessing addresses. IP on Safari and Mail, which means developers won’t be able to bypass disabling app tracking by tracking IP addresses, and marketers will no longer be able to track email open rates of users. recipients via the IP address. Additionally, a « hide my email » feature will allow Apple customers to hide their email addresses from marketers.

Is AAID also changing?

Google has advocated the privacy changes as loudly as Apple, although they don’t go as far – no surprise, given that advertising still matters. more than 80% of their income. In addition to upcoming changes to how third-party cookies will be handled on Chrome, Google announced changes to AAID during Google I / O 2021.

Android 12 – the latest version of Google’s mobile operating system – is already out in beta and will launch later this year. A New “Privacy Dashboard” allows users to see which apps have accessed certain permissions in the past 24 hours and revoke those permissions.

Most important for advertisers, however, is the upcoming change in advertising identifiers. From the end of 2021, when a user turns off interest-based advertising or ad personalization, the ad ID will no longer be available. Applications will receive a string of zeros in place of the identifier. In the past, when a user unsubscribed, Google would simply advise app developers not to track the user, but this was not enforced. Now, when a user disengages, the app will completely stop obtaining any identifiable information.

The impact for marketing

When businesses are unable to track activity on their websites and apps, their marketing teams lose valuable information that all modern performance marketers rely on – metrics like conversion rates. , the return on advertising spend and customer value.

Marketing features that rely on this data include:

  • Conversion tracking
  • Campaign optimization
  • Remarketing
  • Similar audiences
  • Modeling of attributions

The first two are perhaps the most important. When ad channels like Facebook and Google Ads 360 can no longer track conversions, they also lose the ability to optimize ad creatives, audience targeting, and keyword targeting to maximize conversions. Facebook estimates that advertisers who lose the ability to track conversions and have to revert to link click optimization see an average increase of over 150% in cost per action (CPA)!

How to minimize damage

Unlike the GDPR and cookie notices, these new privacy changes have a direct impact on performance marketing. Early statistics show that the vast majority of iOS 14.5 users opt out of tracking. If the prompt on Chrome is also visible, or worse, if it’s set to default and then hidden deep in settings, most people are also likely to block third-party cookies on the most popular browser.

Some fallout is inevitable. The idea for marketers is to incorporate these privacy measures and work with them to minimize the impact on performance.

Server side tracking

For advertisers who want full control over tracking, data collection, and governance, server-side tracking is the best option. You can run a fully functional digital analytics and marketing setup without loading third-party code or relying on cookies in the user’s browser or device.

Server-side tracking bypasses the barriers to tracking with cookies or IDFA and AAID, allowing your server to communicate directly with the ad platform whenever a user interacts with your website. Read our article explaining server-side tracking in more detail, or watch this simple gif explaining the concept visually:

Server side tracking GIF illustrationState-of-the-art marketers can code a server-based integration with our help, if needed. A better alternative for those who want less server-side code modification is to use a server-based tagging solution, such as Google Tag Manager on the server side.

Facebook iOS 14 Settings

Aggregate measure of Facebook eventsFollowing the release of iOS 14.5, Facebook forced a number of changes for advertisers. A clear set of measures must be taken to minimize disruption to advertising campaigns. These include:

  • Verify your domain in Facebook Business Manager
  • Prioritize up to eight events to track in the event handler
  • Check that none of your ad campaigns are optimized for low priority events
  • Take into account smaller audiences and plan to complete this
  • Update to the latest version of the Facebook SDK
  • Configure your event schema in the event handler
  • Understand changes in measurement and reporting and adapt marketing and attribution plans

Read our summary of the steps you can take to make sure your campaigns aren’t underperforming or even stopped, and verify that you’ve completed all of the points on this iOS 14.5 readiness checklist.

Acquire more first-party data

Individual girlConsumers are more aware of their privacy and how businesses use their data for profit. One of the most important lessons from recent privacy features introduced by big tech companies is that marketing teams can no longer rely on tracking and hyper-personalization on other platforms. It is becoming increasingly important for brands to build their own first party data.

First party data is any information you collect directly from your customers and website visitors. This can be done through the first-party cookies you place on their browsers, the purchases they make on your physical or e-commerce store, or the forms they submit to access information on your website.

In a world without cookies, you can still leverage your first-party data to deliver targeted and personalized customer experiences. This data is GDPR compliant and is not based on opt-in from platforms that you cannot control. You can use your proprietary data to build email marketing lists as well as personalized audiences on Facebook, Google, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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