How Apple’s New Privacy Policy Affects Small Businesses

Apple has released the long-announced update for the privacy feature that hugs advertising platforms. The feature that annoyed them, especially Facebook, is the ability for a user to opt out of sharing ‘Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA)’.

Apple has always been open to its focus on privacy first features and the fact that iOS is the most secure mobile operating system. It seems to have gone a bit further with this feature release.

According to Apple, they are now giving users the choice of whether to track their devices so advertisers can serve them targeted ads. For advertisers, their ads need to be extremely targeted in order to get the most out of their ad spend.

Facebook has openly described Apple’s move as a hit with small businesses that rely on using Facebook ads to reach their potential customers. If this feature turns off data sharing by third parties, advertisers will not be able to target ads based on user behavior.

But will small businesses take such a big blow? Is mobile advertising as we know it changing now? How does Apple’s new privacy policy affect small businesses? Let’s take a look.

The immediate impact on small businesses

The data protection function is called “app tracking transparency”. A user is asked if they want an app to keep track of their online activity. Users can allow tracking for advertising purposes or opt out of tracking.

The prompt for an app only happens once, and once a user logs out, the app developer can no longer access the data about the user.

User prompt for transparency in app tracking

Now, if a user does not allow tracking for the Facebook app on their phone, Facebook will no longer be able to use app tracking data to create data profiles of users based on their online activities. The company creates these user profiles in order to compile information about a user with which interest-based advertising can be displayed. The insights into these interests come from analyzing their online activities and behavior.

No tracking means no refined user profiles. This in turn means that ad targeting and retargeting are less specific. It is to be expected that small businesses will encounter a hurdle in their advertising on Facebook.

Almost every company places ads on Facebook. Small businesses even more. Small businesses use specific ad targeting to optimize their campaigns. You’re on a tight budget and want to get the most out of your ad spend. Ad targeting helps them do this. Because it enables them to target specific users with specific interests and behaviors.

If a small business relies entirely on Facebook ads to attract new customers or users, this will be a problem for them. And there are a number of small companies that rely exclusively on Facebook for customer acquisition.

These companies will immediately notice that the ad becomes less relevant to the users who see it. It just seems logical. Will that still be the case?

What do experts say?

But it also depends on how many users actually decide against this feature. And that’s not an easy prediction. According to one report, 48% of users said they would tap “Allow” and remain signed in for app tracking functionality.

This number is not a given and can change at any time – for better or for worse. Perhaps most of the users are not interested in this feature. Maybe they will. The real fear of Facebook and other advertising platforms, and therefore small businesses, is that power is no longer in their hands.

Previously, users couldn’t decide whether to be tracked by the apps they were using. Now they do. And that’s the difference that creates this controversy.

Data protection experts praise this step by Apple. Advertisers and marketers have concerns about the negative impact this will have on small businesses.

The real impact will depend on the users themselves at the end of the day. And how many of them actually manage to use this feature to opt out of being tracked by apps.

What Can Small Businesses Do?

This could be a good time for small businesses to reconsider and rethink their approach to customer acquisition. One way or another, things have certainly changed about how to reach their ideal audience.

Facebook is a great platform for many small businesses to advertise and acquire new customers. After all, Facebook is the most popular social network with almost 3 billion users. It’s the perfect platform for small businesses to advertise.

But all is not lost. Sure, advertising can take a hit. But there are other ways to attract users to your company on Facebook.

Small businesses should now think about how they are spending their advertising money. The growing consensus among experts is that small businesses that depend heavily or exclusively on social media and Facebook advertising should revise their marketing strategy.

It is clear that other operating systems and platforms could follow suit. You can create functions for greater user privacy. And that would put off advertising platforms and also affect their effectiveness.

Small businesses should invest and develop other lead capture channels. Organic traffic and leads tend to be of a higher quality for the most part. They also lead to better conversion rates as well as higher retention rates. This is the perfect time to develop a strategy to grow and increase organic traffic as you can no longer rely entirely on Facebook ads to attract new customers.

It’s good for focusing on building and growing email lists and campaigns. Email marketing may seem like an old school tool, but the truth is, it still works. Retaining existing customers costs significantly less than acquiring new customers. And email campaigns are a great way to do that.

In the near future, we’ll likely see an additional focus on privacy and user data protection. It only makes sense for companies to look out for these. And even anticipate them so that they are not surprised.

The best way to counter the effects of such changes is to have a diversified marketing plan and strategy that is not extremely dependent on a single channel or platform.

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