How Will the New iOS 14 Update Impact Advertisers?


By Brooke WillcoxDirector of Digital Business Development at MNI Targeted Media



Impact of The New iOS Update

In the wake of increasing regulations surrounding data privacy in the tech space, Apple announced an iOS update back in June of this year that would give users more control over the information that they share with app advertisers and developers. 

iOS 14, which was originally slated to be released on September 16th 2020 and was pushed back to early 2021, introduces several privacy features that will undoubtedly impact many common digital advertising business activities, most notably, a significant reduction in the availability of device-based IDs to the app ecosystem. 


The update will allow consumers to opt-in to the use of the Identifier for Advertising (IDFA), which is an integral aspect to most, if not all, digital advertising business activities that the market relies on to successfully execute targeted campaigns. Without an IDFA, ad campaigns cannot frequency cap, measure, optimize, segment, or target accurately or strategically. This means users will get more ads served to them that are not relevant, with increased frequency. Not only will this affect all stages of the entire digital marketing business model and process, but a predicted average 52% decrease in advertising revenue will be seen as a result.  

The iOS 14 update will put Apple in a positive position in the eyes of data-concerned consumers moving forward. It allows for greater transparency into the privacy practices of each individual app, and more control for users over the handling of their device information and even location data. Apple stated, “privacy is a fundamental human right and at the core of everything we do. That’s why with iOS 14, we’re giving you more control over the data you share and more transparency into how it’s used.” 

Key Features from the iOS 14 Update That Advertisers Need to Know 

There are some natural concerns from the advertising community about how this will impact audience segmentation, targeting, attribution, and reporting. As with most announcements surrounding privacy regulations in recent years, advertisers can expect an impact to both their business performance, and overall user experience as a result. Advertisers and developers will have to rethink their user privacy protections moving forward and strategize how they can still encourage consumers to opt-in to sharing their information.


It’s important to note that users will have many opportunities to opt in, as the option is not on a device level - it’s on an app level. That means it only takes one opt in for IDFA to register, and most iOS owners have several dozen apps on their phone. Thus, even if the opt-in rate drops to the estimated 10% rate, the total number of IDFA’s captured is not expected to decrease substantially. 

Naturally, marketers are already preparing for alternative routes moving forward in order to navigate their way through the update. Most importantly, evaluating how they currently use the IDFA, and reestablishing their privacy disclosure information so that it clearly states the exact information they will be collecting from a user, and why. This detailed transparency will help ease users into their decision to potentially opt-in.

On the development side, app developers are expected to incentivize the opt-in to further protect advertising revenue associated with IDFA and limit the opt-outs. 

What Advertisers Can Do When Users Opt-Out of Ad Tracking

For users who opt-out entirely, advertisers will need to look towards other ways of capturing user information in order to optimize campaigns. This could include submission forms that call for email collection or other consumer identifiers. Additionally, advertisers can leverage device graphs to link individuals to all of the devices they use. The vast majority of iOS devices are already mapped to other identifiers such as device graph or DSP ID, which allows for iOS device targeting and segmentation without the presence of a direct IDFA. Since IDFA is not an identifier that changes over with anywhere near the frequency of an IP Address or cookie, these identifiers are expected to be sufficient in the short term once the update is pushed while marketers evaluate the new landscape and additional technologies arise.


When all else fails, there are some tried and tested methods of contextual targeting that advertisers can revert back to such as granular bidding, app metadata, and optimizing against contextual signals. 

While the road ahead is still unclear with these changes, MNI and our team of targeted advertising industry experts are navigating the effects of it accordingly to keep our partners ahead of the curve, and prepared for the inevitable modifications still to come.

About the Author 

Brooke Willcox is Director of Digital Business Development at MNI Targeted Media., and its two business units, MNI and Harpoon Digital. She has more than ten years’ experience in the digital media industry. She excels at evaluating the digital landscape and emerging trends, in order to identify prospective partners across media solutions, data partners, technology platforms, pricing models, custom campaign tracking and analytics, audience insights, verification tools, creative, and programmatic platforms. She oversees the contract negotiation and implementation with vendors in the space, including onboarding, training, technical integration and continual partner management and development.