Back in 2020, Apple launched iOS 14 in what was a huge shock to the advertising ecosystem. iOS 14 allowed users to opt out of tracking and opt-out they did. The latest statistics show that only 34% of iOS users remain opted-in.
While the release of iOS 14 didn’t completely destroy the digital advertising landscape like many feared, it did add a new layer of complexity. With significantly less audience data, retargeting on channels like Google Ads and Facebook became more complicated and less fruitful.
Now, with iOS 17 having been released and tracking links being stripped, audiences are shrinking even further.
Fear not though. Despite what appears to be gloom and doom, there are ways advertisers can recover ad retargeting audiences and keep campaigns running more efficiently than ever before.
Understanding the iOS 17 Update & Its Impact on Advertising
There are plenty of feature changes and new elements in iOS 17 (Hello Live Voicemail!). You can find those here. For our purposes, we want to look at the key change impacting advertisers and specifically ad retargeting.
The biggest change with the launch of iOS 17 is the introduction of Link Tracking Protection. From Apple’s press release:
“Some websites add extra information to their URLs in order to track users across other websites. Now this information will be removed from the links users share in Messages and Mail, and the links will still work as expected. This information will also be removed from links in Safari Private Browsing.”
Not ideal for advertisers. The good news (for now) is that email campaigns shouldn’t be impacted, specifically if you are using an email marketing platform that appends UTMs after a link redirect. Additionally, parameters such as Source, Medium, and Campaign will not be stripped as they are not personal identifiers.
3 Steps to Recovering Ad Retargeting Audiences After iOS 17
There is no time like the present to start recovering your ad retargeting audiences and Customers.ai is the solution to do this. With our Website Visitor X-Ray tool, you can identify the name, contact info, and intent signals of your anonymous visitors and use that data to build retargeting audiences for your digital ad platforms. This means you can reach the people who are most likely to convert. Even better, you can get started in three easy steps:
1: Install the Website Visitor ID X-Ray Pixel
The Website Visitor ID X-Ray easy to install and can be done in about 90-seconds. We have several ways to install it including GTM, Shopify, WordPress, and more.
In the dashboard, navigate to My Automations, select + New Automation, and get your pixel. Make sure to test it to verify it’s working. Bonus: You can select which page/s you want to track for even more specific targeting.
2. Export Your Audience of X-Ray Visitors
The key to building your ad retargeting list is in your X-Ray list. To export your list of website visitors, navigate to My Leads, choose “X-Ray”, and select the visitors you want to export.
Want to learn more about your visitors or create additional segments? Each visitor contains information like email, first and last name, the page they landed on, how many times they visted, and more.
3. Upload Your Export As a Custom Audience in Your Ads Platform
Once you have your audience lists exported and created, upload them into Facebook Ads, Google Ads, etc.
With Customers.ai, you can not only grow your retargeting lists, but ensure you are targeting people who are already interested in what you have to offer!
Now that we have the important part taken care of, read on for more information on how iOS 17 is impacting advertisers and what you need to be thinking about.
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How Does iOS 17 Impact Ad Retargeting?
There are two main considerations here: Retargeting and Remarketing Audiences.
Retargeting: Any retargeting campaign that relies on click IDs will be impacted by iOS 17. Without the click ID data, ad platforms like Google and Meta will have a hard time detecting if a user should be retargeted to.
Remarketing Audiences: Remarketing audiences are built on previous interactions a user had with you – email clicks, Google Ads clicks, Meta Ads clicks, etc. Without click IDs, the platforms are going to have a much harder time identifying who should be placed on the remarketing list and audience lists are going to become much smaller.
How Can Marketers Recover Ad Retargeting Audiences?
If you’ve been paying attention in recent years, these iOS updates shouldn’t surprise you. Privacy is a top concern for companies like Apple and Google and we know they will continue to make changes that make the life of marketers and advertisers much harder.
We also know marketers are great at adapting. We’ve seen the push toward first-party data, the embrace of new technology to capture that data, and the changes in strategies to ensure budget is being put toward measurable channels.
Let’s dig into a few strategies advertisers can employ to recover ad retargeting audiences:
1. Look to Collect Zero-Party Data
If you haven’t heard the phrase ‘zero-party data’, it refers to the information your customers, website visitors, or email subscribers give to you. For example, form data, survey responses, chat messaging, and customer profiles are all considered zero-party data.
This is the kind of data that when used properly, can help grow your ads retargeting list and lead to some phenomenal personalization on both the ads and email side of things.
For example, with the Customers.ai AI email writer, you can use this exact type of data to send dynamically AI-generated, hyper-personalized remarketing emails that drive engagement.
In the screenshot below, you can see we know an address, we know there is an interest in startups, and we know this user has two kids. The AI email writer puts that into one highly-targeted (and interesting!) email.
Zero-party data not only allows you to build your ads retargeting list but also allows you reach those users in a better way.
2. Utilize Your First-Party Data
First-party data has always been valuable. After all, first-party data is your data. It’s the data you’ve collected from your customers or visitors. It’s information like email addresses, purchase history, or browsing data. First-party data allows you to measure more effectively and it allows you to create effective remarketing audiences.
For example, if you are an ecommerce clothing retailer, first-party data can tell you individual A added a pair of pants to his cart and left without checking out. We can then ensure that individual is put into a retargeting campaign and served ads for the product he abandoned.
But what if there is way to capture even more first-party data about our visitors?
What if we can capture the email addresses of people who visit our website but don’t take an action? What if we can identify visitors who simply visit our site? Wouldn’t that lend to an exponential increase in our ads retargeting audiences?
The answer is YES and that is exactly what the Customers.ai X-Ray tool does.
By adding a simple pixel to your site (which you have hopefully already done), you can start collecting email addresses and building audiences immediately.
Customers.ai X-Ray tool changes the landscape when it comes to first-party data and helps advertisers recover (and more importantly, expand) the ads retargeting audiences being lost to iOS 17.
Now, what’s important to remember with both zero-party and first-party data is a strong CRM is essential. In this world of cookieless retargeting, your audience lists are only as good as the data behind them.
3. Explore Contextual & Interest-Based Audiences
The last strategy we want to discuss is contextual and interest-based audiences. While contextual advertising hasn’t always been the belle of the advertising ball, the privacy changes being made by companies like Apple is leading to a resurgence. In fact, according to the Contextual Advertising – Global Market Trajectory & Analytics report, the contextual advertising market is set to reach $335.1 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 13.3%.
What makes contextual advertising interesting is that your ad isn’t being shown on a random site. It is being shown on a related site – a site that is “contextually” similar to your product or service. You can target by category, keywords, or even semantics, giving you a variety of ways to reach your audience.
Now you might be wondering, how does this help us recover our ad retargeting audience?
Simple. Customers.ai has a database of over 250M U.S. shoppers, broken out by demographics, buying behavior, and interests. By building these into your audience lists, you can find and target new customers effectively. You can utilize contextual advertising to reach these individuals and bring them into the fold.
The changes brought by iOS 14, iOS 17 and certainly future releases mean advertisers have to think of new ways to reach their customers. As privacy changes evolve, your ad retargeting lists will likely continue to shrink unless you take action.
With Customers.ai, you can not only recover those audiences but you can grow them even larger, opening up new opportunities and increased revenue. Learn who’s visiting your website right now and add them to your Facebook or Google retargeting audience — for FREE!
Important Next Steps
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