What the New iOS Update Means for Your Facebook Ads

It appears Facebook and Apple aren’t holding back anymore. The blowout between the tech giants has been about a decade in the making, but the tension between the two companies seems to have come to a head in the past month.

If you haven’t caught the finer points of the spat, in late May, Apple released an ad that took direct aim at Facebook and other major advertising platforms (albeit without naming any names specifically). In the ad, Apple explains how much tracking that happens within the apps and site you visit every day.

Here’s the ad so you can get an idea for yourself:

Apple’s point? Everybody is tracking you and your information, every second of every day. Shouldn’t you get to have a say in that and opt in to that tracking, rather than having to opt out?

At face value, we can all agree with that. You should have a say in what information you put out in the world. But as direct response marketers, we already know how much this has the potential to impact your Facebook ads, and a lot of other things.

So we’re going to walk you back through the Apple/Facebook conflict, Apple’s new updates, and what it could mean for your Facebook ads in the near and long term.

A Brief History of the Apple/Facebook Conflict

In the interest of brevity, we’ll give you the trimmest possible background here—and we encourage you to check out this podcast episode from NYT’s The Daily for more.

As the tech industry has proliferated in the last 10+ years, Facebook and Apple have both found themselves in increasingly conflicting positions as they attempt to expand their own offerings. There are bits of interpersonal conflict between Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Apple’s Tim Cook, but it’s resulted in a sort of cold tension that’s mounted more and more in recent years.

Apple’s New iPhone Updates

That tension snapped with this new iOS update, and here’s why. As you know, most apps and websites use various methods of securing your personal information, often via cookies or the Terms of Service you need to confirm you’ve read before you start using a new social media application. And many of these services try to track your data even when you’re not using their app.

This gives a company like Facebook a lot of data to work with when it comes to tailoring their ads—and it’s one of the reasons advertisers on Facebook can get so granular with their audiences.

With the new iOS app, Apple is giving users the option of opting out of this tracking ecosystem when they’re using their phone. Obviously, advertising platforms like Facebook (and Instagram) have many other ways of tracking user data, but it’s potentially a pretty powerful blow to Facebook’s advertising platform.

The Future of Facebook Ads

The diminished ability to target ads is already having an impact on advertisers (like you and us). In fact, this impacts potentially 10 million active advertisers on the site. With reduced targeting capabilities come the potential that delivering high quality ads to a niche target audience may become more challenging over time.

In the near-term, though, the effects are likely to be minimal. But should big tech companies like Apple continue to take aim at Facebook, it may be worth considering what type of paid social campaigns you’re running—and what you want out of them.

While it’s hard to imagine a direct response marketing landscape without Facebook and Instagram in it, perhaps this is the sign of a digital marketing landscape that continues to evolve. Who knows what that next vista may look like?

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