How marketers stay up to date in the age of the iOS 14 update

Since Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, officially announced the new data protection features of the iOS 14 update in December 2020, the marketing world has been planning our adjustments and strategies to operate according to these new guidelines. We had time to prepare, and we did. But now iOS 14 is active, so we can see real-world examples of how well-known brands perform under the impact of iOS 14 update marketing.

Just a quick refresher on iOS 14 developments, Apple announced a new privacy initiative last year that would allow users to unsubscribe from IDFAs. IDFAs (Identifiers For Advertisers) are third-party trackers that feed back data about user activity to advertisers. The operational effect of this change is a much lower number of iOS users who are susceptible to targeted ads.

For more information on the iOS 14 update, visit the DigitalMarketer blog or our podcast.

The main reason iOS 14 is controversial is because of Facebook's reaction and claim that it will be targeted right away. Apple and Facebook have been fighting for a while, so this claim is not unfounded. Facebook relies almost entirely on targeted ads for revenue. So the claim is that Apple is delegitimizing Facebook's business model. Most of Facebook's opposition to the update has centered on the impact it will have on small businesses that rely on targeted ads.

But not only Facebook is forced to reinvent itself by the iOS 14 update. Both marketers and advertising platforms are on the move as we wait to better appreciate the reality of the marketing implications of the iOS 14 update.

This article takes a look at how three other social media giants (Snapchat, Pinterest, and TikTok) are reacting to the changes in iOS 14 and what their strategies could mean for you as a marketer.


Snapchat, an alternative messaging platform and social media staple, generates 99% of its revenue from advertising. This statistic makes the iOS 14 update potentially disastrous. This also makes Snapchat a very interesting company when it comes to the impact of the iOS 14 update.

Snapchat has been open about its support for Apple's privacy concerns. This is a trademark for the company as it advocates privacy as a "core value". Snapchat intends to continue its promotional efforts as usual and to some extent reduce the losses for users who opt out of tracking.

Meanwhile, they're also rolling out something new called the Snap Kit, a redesigned app advertising opportunity. The aim is to work directly with app developers to improve and promote data collection by first-party providers. Snap Kit is a perfect example of creativity amid the impact of iOS 14 marketing.

Snapchat's privacy policy is in line with the iOS 14 update

what does that mean to you? Snapchat is urging marketers to prepare for lower engagement and loss of user-level targeting – but you've already seen that. For the next steps they recommend:

  • Implementing SKAdNetwork V2
  • Separation of pure Android campaigns into a separate conversion lift study
  • Create lookalikes of your target groups
  • Be ready to work with more contextual signals that Snap is ready to help you with

While Snapchat recognizes the change in performance metrics, they remain optimistic that this will be a short-term setback as we all adjust and we will return stronger than ever. As a marketer, it is our job to introduce ourselves in a new way. Snapchat did just that to help its users and advertisers feel comfortable on these shifts.


Pinterest is another big company that primarily benefits from advertising. The company had revenue of $ 756 million in 2020 from Pinterest ads. How are you protecting that revenue given the impact of iOS 14 update marketing?

Pinterest was already training for this moment before Apple's announcement in 2020. They officially bid goodbye to collecting IDFAs (Identifier For Advertisers) – a decision they claim will have limited implications. They're also exploring ways to localize ad targeting within their own platform. This is a beneficial business move for Pinterest as they effectively eliminate the middleman, and it fits their business model well anyway.

Pinterest suggestions for marketing adjustments

So Pinterest's plan is pretty clear … but how do we work on this changing platform? Pinterest seems to be saying there isn't much you need to do at all. They recommend keeping an eye on your performance and devoting some resources to it on their side. Other than that, they boast about advertisers with little change.

In this way, Pinterest is a great example of first-party data exploitation – something marketers need to watch very closely. It could be our future.

Tick ​​tock

TikTok, the newest app in the range, also adapts quickly to stay relevant and profitable. The new social media app has stated that its priorities are evenly split between the needs of its advertisers and the privacy of its users.

For TikTok, the impact of iOS 14 marketing has encouraged the creation of their new dedicated iOS 14 campaigns. These campaigns will be the only way to reach users on the iOS 14.5 platform. TikTok is using the iOS update to subdivide its ads. These ads will still be targeted, but back-tracking using ARPU (Average Revenue Per Unit, a metric that reduces revenue by unit) instead of IDFAs.

TikTok also explicitly admits that they're not entirely sure what this will look like in the next year or two. Essentially they are saying "hold on!" And while that's a bit scary, it's true. We all stay tuned for the moment as more data is gathered and the real marketing impact of iOS 14 is observed.

TikTok promises to support its partners when things change

In the meantime, however, there are a few things you can do to help your business succeed with these changes.

3 tips to survive (and thrive) in the age of iOS 14

1. Lean into your email list

It's one thing that won't leave you no matter what. Essentially, you're falling back on the hard-earned data you already have, and there's no shame in that. They know what they're saying: keep your friends close and your email list closer!

You probably already know how to market your path to victory through email. So this is a great foundation when everything else seems dubious thanks to the marketing effects of iOS 14.

2. Invest in organic growth

Another thing to focus on instead of targeted ads is growing your business organically. The key here is to think about what you can control. In many ways, you just can't control the marketing effects of the iOS 14 update. By building your organic reach, you can ensure that you are still reaching new audiences.

We have all heard the phrase "build it and they will come". This is a similar thought process. As you create more organic content, your customers will find you for themselves. Take the time to optimize your business and trust it to sell itself.

3. Use lookalike audiences

That means … as marketer it is still our job to take our best product and present it in the best possible light. Using email lists helps with presentation and prioritizing organic growth ensures you have the best product possible. Our last tip will help you reach the target audience that your product needs.

By creating a similar audience, you use what you know about your current clientele and use that information to create a similar audience. Once again, the heart of this tip is to go back to what you already have. By analyzing your past campaigns, you can accurately predict your new target audience.

If these three tips piqued your interest, check out Eva Gutierrez '"5 Things You Must Do Now to Help Your Business Survive the iOS 14 Update".

Ultimately, the marketing impact of the iOS 14 update will focus on getting rid of third-party data. While this affects some strategies, it also gives us the opportunity to break new ground. Apple does what it thinks is best. Facebook does what it thinks is best. These bigger brands do what they think is best. Now it's our turn. And, thanks to our 3 basic tips on how to beat iOS 14, you can play your best game.

Remember, iOS 14 and these new challenges are such small hurdles to overcome as you look back at how far you have come in creating and growing your business. Things are a bit uncertain at the moment, but one thing is certain: here at DigitalMarketer we will always be on your team.

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