The Apple Policy Change
Earlier this year, Apple announced earlier that it would be changing their app store policies effective September 2020. This policy was delayed however until this month, April 2021 and is now rolling out live for all apps on the Apple app store this week (April 26, 2021). The new policy - app tracking transparency - requires apps to provide information about their data collection practices on their product page. And with iOS 14, iPadOS 14, and tvOS 14 (the latest version of the Apple iOS), apps will now be required to ask users for their permission to track them across apps and websites owned by other companies.
It also means starting on Monday, April 26, all iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch apps submitted to the App Store must be built on the Xcode 12 and iOS 14 SDK or later, which means that new apps will no longer be able to use older SDK options.
With the launch of iOS 14.5, Apple is requiring all developers to adhere to its App Tracking Transparency rules that will require them to get express permission to track users across apps with the iPhone's advertising identifier.
Apple describes this policy as an effort to help users understand an app’s privacy practices before they download the app. On each app’s product page, users will be able to learn about some of the data types an app may collect, and whether the information is used to track them or is linked to their identity or device.
Tracking refers to the act of linking user or device data collected from your app with user or device data collected from other companies’ apps, websites, or offline properties for targeted advertising or advertising measurement purposes. Tracking also refers to sharing user or device data with data brokers.
The Facebook Response
While this new policy affects all apps in the Apple App Store, Facebook has taken a particularly vocal stance against the new policy.
Their publicly presented argument is that small businesses and those who rely heavily on targeted advertising within the Facebook network will be adversely affected as their ad spend will now be less effective and their targeting, less specific and personalized. Unlike large corporate brands like Proctor and Gamble, Coca Cola, etc. who can leverage national branding campaigns, small businesses and entrepreneurs rely on targeted advertising to get their messages and product advertising to specific audiences. Facebook claims that without personalized advertising, the average small business stands to see a cut in over 60% of their sales on every advertising dollar they spend.
Impact on Fullpath
While the recent flurry of news coverage frames this as a fight between the Titans - Facebook and Apple - it’s actually a larger conversation that has been taking place over several years and affects all companies and apps listed on the Apple App Store. The conversation is about personal data and privacy and the general trend we are seeing, across all industries, to shift as much as possible to first party data. Meaning, companies and brands will need to rely more on their own data and first party data agreements.
There is no specific impact on the automotive industry in general, and nothing in particular to Fullpath. The Apple tracking policy change, as it relates to Facebook, does not impact the tracking pixel which Facebook provides for website tracking. It's important to note that this particular policy change relates to mobile apps. Furthermore, the Facebook tracking pixel is first party. So for the above two reasons, there is no major change or adjustment required from Fullpath; however, it does underscore the need for, and benefit of, automation and AI now more than ever.
The reason is because as the market shifts and traffic sources fluctuate across different channels, Fullpath is poised to get in front of these changes and adjust, in real-time, so that our dealership customers don’t see decreases in performance. Like a vehicle with a suspended axel, there are always bumps in the road, be it COVID-19, Google’s targeting policies, or Apple’s app store policies, but our clients don’t feel these bumps; they enjoy a smooth and consistent supply of leads while our AI automatically and dynamically shifts funds and focus to where the shoppers and leads are found in the moment.
Quick shifts and reactions to changes in market conditions, across all channels, at scale is something a data driven platform can achieve, whereas an agency or in-house employee may need to manually change campaign and account settings to accommodate for the changes in conditions which may occur as a result of these new advertising policies.
What We’re Doing
As a Facebook Preferred Marketing partner, Fullpath strives to maintain any standards and best practices that Facebook provides and recommends. Also important to note is that Fullpath uses first party data; we have a relationship directly with the dealership, all tracking occurs on the dealership domain, all data is taken from the dealership CRM (with relevant products and permissions), and we do not share dealership and customer data with anyone outside the dealership or without dealership permission, ever.
While no major adjustments are required to our system at the moment, we will be closely monitoring Social campaign performance and making the necessary changes to our Social campaigns structure.
There are however, a few steps which Facebook recommends that account owners pay attention to in order to prepare for the transition. Those include:
- Switch to Aggregated Event Measurement (AEM) to roll out over a 2-week period. Some advertisers will see campaign restrictions, including limits on events that are available for optimization. However, Fullpath automatically sets up web event optimization around Leads - we don't expect this to change in any significant way and given the 8 events per domain for optimization limitation, our accounts and structure are well within this limit and therefore no action needs to be take here.
- Domain Verification: Facebook is recommending that account owners verify the domains for tracking. Fullpath Customer Success Managers will be in contact with the few account contacts for whom this is relevant in order to facilitate this two step process, which will require the dealership website provider to insert a bit of code into the website on behalf of the dealership.