iOS14.5 is not a new problem for advertising, it is forcing marketers to address an old one.

April 28, 2021

iOS14 is creating a buzz amongst marketers at the minute as, not only is it forcing many to change their whole marketing strategies, but is a minefield of misunderstood technology, complicated privacy laws and workarounds. Short term solutions are the go-to for many but this release from Apple is merely the start of the end for third-party data and the reliance on granular targeting. The below explains on a high level what the implications of these updates are for marketers and how to overcome them. Luckily, the update is simply drawing attention to a long-standing problem within marketing so long-term solutions are already out there.

Introduction of iOS14

Facebook will lose out on valuable insights gained from non-Facebook websites where pixels were previously installed. With the network of Facebook pixels installed across the web, Facebook was able to understand which user (or which category of user) was interested in anything from running shoes to financial software. With these updates audience targeting may be less precise as there will be fewer signals to categorise and segment users. This could lead to lower CPMs due to broader audiences but higher CPCs due to the audience being less relevant.


There will also be reduced support for viewing breakdowns, such as segmenting by age or by gender which previously enabled some key optimisations and data analysis, so having a strong understanding of your target customer is even more important.

We should also be prepared for possible reductions in the population of remarketing lists due to the changes to tracking. Remarketing lists are usually the top performers as the audience has already shown interest in the product. Losing them, or at least, having a smaller audience pool, will likely make them less efficient and could result in lower conversion rates.

Going Forward

This is only the beginning for a reduction in the ability to accurately target audiences with granular metrics. The introduction of iOS14.5 will be followed by Google’s removal of third-party cookie data from Chrome later in the year and many other companies will follow. Marketers need to adjust their strategies to become less reliant on third-party data and the targeting that relies on it.

How We Currently Make Ads

The current process of creating advertisements online relies heavily on targeting specific audiences and optimizing once published as you get feedback data from engagement.

  1. Create an audience, focused on specific behaviours from specific groups of people based on demographics and internet activity 
  2. Generate creative and copy based upon assumptions on what will appeal to these specific granular audiences
  3. Publish campaign and A/B test two images that have been chosen by guesswork
  4. Pause advert A because it’s being outperformed by B or refine the audience further

The Flaw in This Process (assumption)

Marketers have spent the past two decades focusing on the targeting of audiences because they can make better assumptions about what a more specific audience will resonate with (e.g. you can make a better guess at what appeals to males, aged 14 that are interested in football than you can of males, aged between 10-20).

The flaw in this is not the ability to target, but the guesswork around what appeals to audiences when it comes to creating advertisements – a method that’s not changed since the Mad Men days of the 50’s. This way of working does not reflect the attitudes, opinions, and reactions of our audiences. It is slow, expensive, inaccurate and most importantly, doesn’t explain what works.

The Future of Advertising

Moving away from relying on third-party data and granular targeting is a necessity for marketers going forward, and the best way to overcome this challenge is to address how you make your creative decisions. 

Datasine’s clients aren’t worrying about iOS14 because we improve results through creative analysis, not targeting. We use your first party creative data (how your audience has responded to your creative) to enable you to optimise your creative in a data-driven way, and to learn from every A/B test without throwing your insights away. Fundamentally, we rely on the data you already have from your audiences and not unreliable third-parties that could turn off/adjust your source of data at any time.