Advertisers and Apple’s iOS14 Update: 3 Things You Need to Do Today

iOS 14 and Facebook Ads

This year, April brought more than just May flowers.

In April 2021, Apple introduced a privacy update (part of the “iOS 14.5” update) that limits your ability to run targeted ads to iOS users (which is a pretty large chunk of people, in the US and Europe at least). This has led to a great deal of concern among advertisers, as targeted ads have proven to be highly effective for many businesses.

But don’t worry—the sky is not falling!

In this article, we share 3 things you can do right now to minimize the impact of the Apple privacy update on your business.

Set up server-side tracking

Server-side tracking is a type of online tracking that takes place on your website’s server rather than in the web browser (e.g. Firefox and Chrome). So you can, to an extent, bypass Apple’s client-side privacy limitations and send data directly to the ad platforms (to build your retargeting lists, measure conversions, etc.)

If you advertise using Facebook Ads, here’s a tutorial on how to set up server-side tracking using the Facebook Conversions API.

The downside: Twitter, LinkedIn, and many other popular ad platforms don’t support server-side tracking yet.

Get in the habit of collecting (and using) as much data as you can

It’s difficult to run personalized ads when you can’t identify who your ad is speaking to online (hmmm… is this that customer who likes formal wear, or is it actually the one who prefers a casual look?). And that’s exactly the scenario that advertisers now face, as the Apple privacy update makes third-party cookies and mobile device IDs less reliable unique identifiers.

Thankfully many advertising platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn allow you to port in first-party data (data that YOU have collected), such as email addresses and phone numbers, to deliver personalized ads. In that case, that data point (e.g. a customer’s email address in your database) serves as the unique identifier as you define your target audience.

You can also use second-party data (someone else’s first party data) to make your ads more relevant. For example, imagine that you own a clothing brand. Facebook collects a great deal of data on your customer,  John Doe (, when John is browsing Facebook and it partner sites. Facebook knows that John ‘likes’ several men’s fashion Pages, has a certain level of education and income, and much more. Using this information to further refine your target audience and ad creative can produce great results.

Adobe also recently introduced a neat feature called Segment Match that lets companies enrich their data by securely sharing it with partners. Let’s say, for example, that you own a jewelry brand. You could partner with a clothing brand and receive valuable data about your mutual customerssuch as their purchase history. You could then use that data to further segment your audience and serve personalized ads for jewelry that goes well with the kinds of clothing they buy.

Lastly, if you can’t collect enough first-party data or simply need to round out your customer profiles but don’t have any second-party data partners to lean on, you can also leverage third-party data from providers like Clearbit,, Acxiom, SciLeads, and ZoomInfo.

Dust off your customer personas

It is now more important than ever to really know your customers and leverage that understanding in your marketing efforts.

Dust off and update those customer personas.

Find out where your customers hang out online… what they like/dislike… causes they support…

Then use your knowledge about your customers to optimize ad targeting and deliver highly relevant ads.

For instance, LinkedIn offers incredible options for account-based marketing (ABM), allowing ad targeting based on demographic and firmographic knowledge of your ideal customers. And Reddit is a promising platform for contextual advertising, allowing you to place ads in thousands of ‘subreddits’ (communities) organized around specific interests. These capabilities remain unaffected by the iOS14 update.

Closing thoughts

Although it’s enticing to look at Apple’s privacy update and decry the death of online advertising, this is really just an evolution.

Businesses who build their strategy on email and 1st party data, stay on top of emerging ad technologies, and truly understand their customers are the ones that will thrive in next decade.

Get in touch if you’d like to discuss your digital advertising strategy for the privacy-centric future.

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Hey there! 👋 We’re Zak & Zu, a small-but-mighty digital marketing agency, where we treat you like a business partner.

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