How The iOS 14 Updates Will (and Won’t) Impact Geofencing

By Matthew Strickland

      Jun 29, 2021     Solutions    

If you’re running geofencing campaigns or thinking about launching this type of location-based marketing tactic, you likely have questions about the recent Apple iOS 14 update.  

Let’s answer some questions about how the iOS 14 update impacts geofencing and what you need to know if you are running or thinking about running location-based campaigns.

#1) What did the iOS 14 update change?

According to Apple, the iOS 14 update attempts to give users more control over their data. It does this by allowing users to opt-out of two types of tracking that were originally approved by default.  

Users are now asked if they want to:  

Opt-out of IDFA tracking. IDFAs, which stands for Identifier for Advertisers, allow apps to identify unique users and collect information about them. IDFAs are similar to cookies on a website. Cookies track user activity on website browsers and identify users so browsers can preserve their sessions and present a more customized on-site experience. When smartphones were first introduced, IDFAs were created to do the same. They allow apps to identify users and present them with more personalized and customized messaging.  

Opt-out of location tracking. Location tracking allows apps to identify where a user is and where they have been.  

With the new iOS 14 updates, apps are now required to ask in a pop-up message if tracking is allowed before they begin tracking. Previously, tracking was the default. Users could opt-out of tracking, but they had to toggle the setting.

#2) What does this have to do with geofencing?

Geofencing marketing utilizes both IDFA and location tracking. The technology behind geofencing identifies unique users and where they are before presenting them with relevant, targeted messaging.

#3) Does this mean geofencing no longer works?

No, not at all. While it is likely that the number of people allowing apps to track them will decrease, it does not mean that geofencing can no longer work.  

Waze, Google Maps, and other apps will still be required to have location access to work properly. This means there will be less data coming through on the back end, but we will not completely lose audiences since consumers will still be using these location-dependent apps.  

This update only impacts iOS users. iOS users account for about 40% of data supply in the US. We do not anticipate that the change in audience size will be largely noticeable as we have not had a problem serving impressions in the past.  

The change only impacts standard (display) ad delivery. Connected TV (CTV) and the video ads that appear before programming on streaming platforms aren’t impacted. If you are running this type of ad, it will not be impacted.   As most campaigns have no problem serving the planned impressions, the update would likely have no visible impact for companies. For those that do notice a small impact, the addition of new target fences would create the additional impressions needed.  

Related: Addressable Geofencing: How to Use Location Targeting to Reach Customers

#4) How will this affect my geofencing campaigns?

If you are running campaigns, the only change to your campaign from the update will be a slightly smaller audience size.  

Ads will still be delivered in the same way and will not be affected by this change. The campaign will still be showing to relevant audiences in your target fences as it was before the update. The only change that will come from this update will be on the size of the potential audiences.  

If you notice that you are not serving enough impressions, you can add more target locations to expand the audience. Normally, we would recommend targeting 10-15 locations for every 100,000 impressions to serve effectively. With the new update, this number may change to 20-25 targets for every 100,000 impressions.

#5) How will the update affect my reporting?

Similar to ad delivery, conversion tracking may be limited based on the audience's decision to share their location. As mentioned above though, most consumers will still have a couple apps with location data available for tracking and, therefore, will still be counted in the conversion zones.  

Depending on the consumer’s location settings, you would be able to serve ads to people who you pick up while in target fences. But, if they were to turn off their location settings before entering conversion zones, then you would not be able to track them. However, this is always a possibility depending on location settings.  

Related: How Effective Is Geofencing? 3 Examples of Real Campaign ROI

#6) Where can I get more answers about the iOS 14 update and geofencing?

One thing we know about technology is that it is constantly changing. New rules, regulations, and restrictions are always going to happen and lead us to adjust or pivot. For that reason, it’s great to have an informed partner who can guide you through updates and adjustments.  

If you have other questions about how the iOS 14 update is going to impact your existing geofencing advertising campaigns or if you’re interested in learning more about this technology, we’re here to help.  

MyArea Network is a team of local marketing experts who keep up on what works in local marketing so you don’t have to. Contact us to see how we can help you optimize your current strategy or launch something new to work better for your brand. We look forward to helping you reach more customers in your area.