Marketing Briefing: Now that iOS 14 has arrived, the uncertainties surrounding its impact become clear

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Marketers and media buyers will no longer deal in hypotheticals when it comes to the impact of Apple’s privacy changes. As the long-awaited iOS 14 update rolls out this week (it officially hit Monday), users will now be notified of which apps are tracking them, sharing their data and can opt-out — likely shrinking a data pool for advertisers and making attribution more difficult.

The drawn-out rollout of the change has led to speculation and uncertainty about its impact. Apple initially said the change was coming last July, estimated a release in the fall and now it is finally rolling out this week. While media buyers say they’ve prepared clients and done what they can to manage the potential impact — running predictive campaign models, telling clients that campaigns pushing app downloads will likely see a hit and that attribution and measurement, particularly on Facebook, will be more difficult — the on-going unpredictability has led to a feeling of wait and see, explained buyers.

“The potential impact of the iOS14 changes [has] loomed over the heads of digital marketers for the better part of a year — and the uncertainty around timing has acted as both a blessing and a curse,” said Erika Mahon, group director of audience activation at Dentsu Media US. “With the threat of these changes going into place at any time, it forced teams to act more quickly in taking the needed steps in anticipation rather than running up against a known deadline.” 

Even as iOS 14 rolls out this week, “there are still many unknowns when it comes to the impact on reported conversions that will have to be addressed only as the updates go into effect,” noted Mahon. “To properly prepare our clients, our teams are modeling predictive performance based on conservative scenarios of potential opt-outs to ensure we’re all going in with realistic expectations.” 

Despite continued uncertainty when it comes to the overall impact of the privacy changes on campaign performance or attribution and measurement, particularly on Facebook, media buyers say marketers aren’t looking to pause media spending as the shift happens. 

Carrie Dino, head of media at Mekanism, said that the agency will be “monitoring campaign performance closely over the next two weeks” and that “if we see any drastic changes then we will advise to pause and allow time for Facebook to catch up.”

“The general sentiment is that as much as we can prepare for what will happen it seems like there’s also this feeling [among marketers and media buyers] that maybe it won’t affect my campaigns that much so I don’t want to take drastic action until I see what the impact is going to be,” noted Dino.  

Even with months of preparation, running hypothetical scenarios and creating checklists of what may potentially happen this week as the privacy changes rollout, marketers and media buyers have been working without certainty of iOS 14’s impact on campaigns. That’s led some marketers and media buyers to accept their lack of certainty rather than fight it. 

“Hypothetically we have bullets of ‘Here’s what’s going to happen,’” said Carter Baker, associate director of digital media at The Many, of the work the agency has done to suss out the impact on Facebook campaigns, adding that when asking the platform what happens when putting those hypotheticals into action the response has been uncertainty. “The answer on the Friday before it goes live is ‘let me get back to you on that.’” 

Baker continued: “I can do all this preparation but the things are hypothetical we won’t know until we know.” 

This week, those hypotheticals and uncertainties will have answers.

3 Questions with Genesys CMO Joyce Kim

In your opinion, what’s the biggest challenge facing CMOs and marketers this year?
The past year was a bit of a reckoning for businesses when it came to consumer expectations. We had to think through the impact of the pandemic on consumers’ lives to ensure we were being thoughtful about how we orchestrate their overall experience so we engage audiences at the appropriate time with the right message. Additionally, for the first time, digital engagement became the primary, and in many cases only, mode of communication for customers to interact with companies. It blurred the lines between marketing, sales and service, and evolved the role marketers must play. It’s time to market in a new way, moving beyond designing the customer journey for lead acquisition and take a broader view. This means rethinking how we engage customers, taking ownership of every touchpoint across the overall experience, to drive value and ensure success.

The industry has drawn criticism for its response to calls for diversity. Why do you think that is?
The tech industry has had a reputation for looking homogenous — from gender gaps to even more stark gaps when it comes to race and ethnicity. The social unrest that took place in 2020, combined with the global pandemic really brought these realities in our tech industry to the forefront. It’s important to note that the gaps aren’t just in the workforce, it’s also in the inequities for our underrepresented groups to get funding as start-ups. And it’s in the feeder funnels in education that offer more opportunities for individuals in underrepresented groups to get exposure to, and have the opportunity to, competitively vie for positions in the tech sector.

What should companies be doing now to address it?
Social unrest in the U.S. made all tech companies face our realities — that it takes going beyond a simple social media statement to address the ‘of the moment’ media publicity. To truly make an impact and change for diversity, we all must be intentional as a company on where we stand. Intentional on what we will or will not tolerate (from how we do business to who we do business with). And intentional in ensuring that our company culture and behavior is rooted in empathy for each other. At Genesys, we are intentional in our approach to tackle the systems, processes and policies that have been barriers for many of our underrepresented groups — that goes to reshaping how we hire, where we source for future talent and importantly, in the retention and development of our future leadership. — Kimeko McCoy

By the numbers

It’s no secret that the future of work is changing. Because of the global pandemic, offices closed, making for a boom in remote work opportunities. Meanwhile, workspaces-on-demand saw a major increase. It seems employees have settled into the new normal. 

But new research from AI-powered talent marketplace company Gloat shows that full-time professionals want more opportunities for skill development and growth. Find the breakdown below:

  • 88% say learning new skills on the job is somewhat to very important
  • Women say they’d prefer to learn a new skill on the job by learning hands-on with experience (51.3% vs 38.5%) while men prefer taking an online course/training (21.8% vs 13.6%)
  • The #1 thing people want to change in today’s work environment is the opportunity to learn new skills hands-on (23%), above having their voice heard (17%), having downtime respected (19%), and having better managers (12%)
  • A majority (67%) want to learn either through hands-on experience or mentorship rather than a course or training (33%) — Kimeko McCoy

Quote of the week

“The resources marketers have been investing heavily into CRM and ‘data lake’ solutions won’t be able to show the positive ROI marketers were counting on. Strategies will adjust in due time, but there’s a good chance the current lift marketers see from iOS traffic will never be captured again.”

Ben Holmes, svp of performance and exchange at AdColony, told senior brands editor Seb Joseph for his piece on the winners and losers of Apple’s privacy change.

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