To own a digital marketing agency that specialises in paid advertising and not keep up to date with all of the iOS updates, is a rather foolish Founder.


I mean, iOS14.4 changed so much not only for my industry, but my own agency, so when iOS17 dropped? I was all over it.  Ready.  Willing to receive whatever information presented off the back of the latest updates.  Open to a pivot or two, if required, etc.


The launch of Apple’s iOS 17 is one such seismic shift that promises to – once again, for us weary paid ads marketers – redefine the contours of digital marketing. 


Now, I’m conscious of your iOS-induced fatigue, so I’ve done the deep exploratory stuff for you … so that you don’t have to, and via this post? You’ll be able to walk through the iOS 17 update and its potential impacts on not only general marketing approaches … but paid advertising strategies, also.


What is the iOS 17 update?


iOS 17 is Apple’s latest iteration of its operating system, designed for iPhone and iPad. Each update traditionally brings new features, enhanced privacy controls, and sometimes, reimagined user interfaces that can alter how users engage with their devices—and, consequently, with your ads. While details of the update are still unfolding, the buzz suggests a heightened emphasis on user privacy and data security.


The impact on your marketing strategy:


Apple’s commitment to privacy has been clear, and iOS 17 is no exception. With each update, the digital marketing landscape faces new challenges. Here’s how iOS 17 is poised to impact marketing strategies:


User privacy at the forefront: Following the path of previous updates, iOS 17 is expected to introduce more robust privacy features, potentially limiting the access marketers have to valuable consumer data.


Data-driven decision making: The limitations on data may push marketers to seek alternative, privacy-compliant methods of collecting and utilising consumer insights.


Customer-centric content: With data scarcity, creating content that resonates with audiences will rely even more on understanding customer behaviour and preferences.


Transparency and trust: Brands will need to foster trust by being transparent about data usage and adhering to privacy standards.


The impact on your paid ads marketing strategy:


For those of us specialising in paid ads, the iOS 17 update signals a time for strategic pivoting. Here’s what we should prepare for:


Shifting performance metrics: The efficacy of targeted ads might take a hit, necessitating a shift towards more broad-based performance metrics.


Redefining target audiences: As traditional tracking mechanisms become obsolete, we’ll need to redefine our target audiences and how we reach them.


Diversified ad spending: It’s prudent to diversify ad spending across platforms to mitigate the impact of reduced tracking capabilities on any single platform.


First-party data emphasis: Collecting first-party data through owned channels like email lists and customer interactions will become paramount.


Adaptability in ad creation: Adaptable and dynamic ad content that can perform well even without hyper-targeting will be crucial.


So where do we land by taking in the iOS 17 update, and its associated changes?


Look, for some paid ads specialists, the iOS17 update on top of iOS14.5 [and the huge changes this brought to our industry and the way we can measure results] might even seem daunting … but we’ve always seen opportunity for innovation and evolution in our marketing and paid ads strategies, especially off the back of any change. 


And if the iOS 17 change is screaming anything to us, it’s this: it’s abundantly clear that adaptability, privacy compliance, and a renewed focus on content will be pivotal in sustaining and growing our connection with audiences.


More importantly, and as an extension to that, as we adapt to the new norms set by iOS 17, it’s becoming increasingly clear that brands must evolve beyond traditional conversion tracking methods, like those offered by GA4, or solely focusing on Return on Ad Spend [ROAS] across digital advertising platforms. Instead, a more holistic approach is required, one that involves calculating the Marketing Effectiveness Rate [this can be achieved through sophisticated attribution models such as Marketing Mix Modelling].


Understanding and calculating your MER doesn’t need to be an overly complex task, i.e given that most of our paid ads portfolio are eComm businesses, it’s very much so part and parcel for the businesses we work with to be across, and/or certainly have conversations with us about.


A straightforward method to begin is by aggregating all your marketing expenditures, ranging from advertising costs to creative outlays. Follow this by measuring the revenue generated from these marketing activities. The formula is simple: divide the revenue by your total marketing costs, and you get your MER. An MER higher than 1 indicates your marketing efforts are yielding profitable returns, which is the ideal scenario for any marketing strategy [and business].


For marketers eager to delve deeper into the effectiveness of different channels and campaigns, embracing Marketing Mix Modelling is key. This advanced technique, often considered the ‘secret ingredient’ to successful marketing strategies, employs a data-centric approach. It thoroughly examines various elements, from your advertising investments to pricing strategies, and assesses their influence on sales and consumer behaviour. Such insights are invaluable, enabling you to allocate your resources more effectively,  optimise your MER and ROI, and craft strategies that resonate deeply with your target audience. 


The TL;DR? Or the “this is far too much marketing jargon, Cherie … just tell me what I’m meant to do?” we really have hit an era as business owners, marketing professionals, and especially as agencies representing the businesses/marketing professionals where we’ve gone so far beyond ROAS [unless you have the paid ads clients who truly trust the process], and into something much more sophisticated, i.e truly embracing a more holistic approach via Marketing Mix Modelling.


We went from ROAS and ROI, to something significantly more holistic, and almost overnight, and the data science’y paid ads specialists are living their best lives.