Apple’s iOS14 opt-out update can be an opportunity for SMEs, rather than a threat


Source: Unsplash/Arnel Hasanovic.

If you manage your business’ social media advertising, you may have noticed some alerts about the latest iOS14 update popping up on platforms such as Facebook.

This latest iOS update has some fantastic elements, with some great new features and handy bug fixes for iPhone and iPad users. But it also includes an option — rolled out on January 26, 2021 — that allows users to opt-out of being tracked on their mobile devices across apps and websites.

What this means is it will no longer be possible to track the behaviour of users who opt-out with the level of detail that has been available up until now across advertising platforms such as Facebook and Google.

Now, as a mobile phone user, that probably sounds like a positive thing. Privacy is good, right?

But what about those business owners who use these platforms to advertise their products and services, and rely on that audience data to make cost-effective marketing decisions? Well, that’s where things might get a little tricky for a while.

In a nutshell, the iOS14 update will have the following effects on businesses using platforms such as Facebook and Google for advertising:

  • The ability to target audiences by demographics (age, gender, location) on Facebook will disappear;
  • Return-on-ad-spend (ROAS) figures will appear significantly lower, due to under-reporting;
  • UAC or app-based tracking campaigns on Google Ads will be difficult to track.

While the full impact of the iOS14 update on digital advertising and marketing campaign results for Australian advertisers is still unknown, it is expected to be significant.

Digital marketers have come to rely heavily on audience information provided by platforms such as Facebook and Google, with the ability to be able to micro-target users based on their online behaviour an integral component of all good digital strategies.

So, this change is going to have a pretty serious impact on online advertising in general.

However, while some within the digital marketing industry are in a panic, we should really be looking at it as an opportunity rather than a threat. It’s time to get more creative!

Creative digital marketing strategies

Tracking and measuring audience behaviour is certainly not the be-all and end-all of digital marketing.

I’ve seen hundreds, in fact, probably thousands, of fantastic examples of businesses doing great things online to connect and engage with their customers — some with a hefty price tag, and others that have little to no outlay.

Here are just a few examples of innovative and creative digital marketing strategies that don’t rely on audience metrics.

1. Leverage social technology for a seamless customer experience

Social technologies such as chatbots and instant messaging can help you to connect you with your customers in real-time.

Global supermarket chain Aldi achieved very positive customer feedback by leveraging Facebook’s ChatBox technology to provide instant updates on the availability of its Special Buys stock.

This instant, anytime option keeps customers engaged with the brand and with the Aldi Facebook page, while also freeing up internal resources that would otherwise be deployed to answer emails and calls.

2. Collaborate with a charity

A charity collab can have fantastic benefits. Not only does it open up a brand new audience to your business, but it demonstrates to your customers that your business values giving back to the community. 

For example, Clipper brand Wahl designed a limited edition trimmer combo — the ‘Barber Life Combo’ — to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month. For every Barber Life Combo purchased, Wahl Australia donated $10 to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

3. Instagram giveaway

There’s no better way to engage your existing customers and get new ones than with a giveaway, and Instagram is a particularly effective platform.

Not only does an Instagram competition generate excitement, but it’s a simple and cost-effective way to grow your audience.

Make sure you follow all the giveaway rules for the specific platform, and make the prize something worth winning (and something your followers will share with their friends).

How can business owners mitigate the impact of iOS14?

After the update, your digital marketing campaign results might look pretty poor compared with previous results. There’s just no getting around that unfortunately.

It’s really important to draw a line between pre-update and post-update results, as comparing them will be like comparing apples and oranges. It’s time to move forward and embrace the opportunity that this iOS14 update will bring.

There are a few actions that business owners can take to make sure you’re achieving the best digital marketing results possible under these new conditions.

  1. Verify your domain on Business Manager and make sure you prioritise the events that are most important to you on Facebook, whether it’s ‘submit a lead’, ‘purchase’, or ‘add to cart’. 
  2. Conduct a thorough audit of your business and the proportion of customers who are iOS device users. While the adoption rate of opting out is not yet known, it’s important to get an understanding of your current user base to better prepare you for the effects of the update.
  3. Think about strategies you can implement that don’t rely on Facebook and Google’s data. For instance, consider setting up an SMS marketing campaign, a retargeting campaign using your email database, or generate leads directly on Facebook. 
  4. Focus on brand building. Think about how you can truly connect with your audience with content, tone of voice and adding value.


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