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Beyond Ad Targeting: What the iOS Changes Mean for Your Digital Strategy

Posted by on May 25th, 2021
Posted in Blog, Digital, Social Media   

Earlier this month, Apple sent shockwaves through the digital advertising industry with the rollout of their iOS14 update. It might just sound like tech-jargon drama not relevant to your work, but it’s likely to impact your organization’s digital strategy in one way or another. How? Let’s dig in.

The update includes a new pop-up feature in many apps, which allows audiences to either allow or opt out of data tracking. While a welcome change for many who believe in stronger online privacy, this creates hurdles for organizations who rely heavily on targeted social ads to spread awareness, mobilize, or fundraise.

It’s worth noting that the changes do not completely eliminate targeting and reporting. But they do affect social advertising’s return on investment. Organizations that rely heavily on social advertising may have to adapt and rely on it less, while others may decide to move their marketing dollars elsewhere entirely.

What’s Next

Apple’s decisions are part of a larger trend of growing skepticism over and regulation of consumer data tracking, such as Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica controversy and the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). In a digital advertising and fundraising world that has grown accustomed to the audience reach ad targeting has brought us, one wonders: What’s next?

While it’s too early to definitively say, for digital strategy this points to the ending of one chapter and the beginning of the next. It’s an opportunity to get creative with your brand storytelling, listen to your audiences, and start the next chapter in how to deeply engage your audiences.

Build Back Trust With Brand

The fallout from data tracking and targeting has created challenges in building trust with audiences. Now is the time to double down on authentic, brand-centered communication that reminds your current audiences of why they followed you in the first place: they are aligned with your values, personality, and other guiding principles that shape your work and impact everyday. Make these the cornerstone of your digital strategy, and look for key opportunities to weave these into your communications.

Refocus on Your Current Audiences

Think about it—ad targeting was innovative in its ability to reach to new audiences previously unaware of your organization. This information reached them via “third party” tracking that they did not necessarily consent to and/or weren’t acutely aware of. Your current audiences, such as those that have opted in to read your newsletter, are “first party” audiences who have definitively consented to their interactions with your brand. They trust you and will seek out increased opportunities for engagement and action. Revisit your current audience data and your assumptions about their behavior. How, if at all, are these changing? They will now be more important than ever.

Email is Back

Despite growing skepticism over the future of email a few years ago, as one of the few direct, “first party” ways to reach users on the Internet, it’s about to become very relevant again. Most audience demographics are still reliant on email as a direct method of communication for personal, educational, or work-related use; this is even true of social media-active younger generations like Gen-Z. Email is a key opportunity to talk directly to audiences, giving them a valuable experience rooted in your brand.

Keep Stoking Group Communication

Many organizations have expanded their digital strategy to include group-based communication on platforms like Facebook Groups, WhatsApp, or audience-focused Instagram accounts for alumni and volunteers. These platforms will continue to be an important way of directly reaching a smaller, very targeted portion of your audience, such as key volunteers, donors, or program alumni. Not only is this a way to communicate with them, but the exclusive nature of group communication encourages them to share their own content and experiences with each other and your organization, creating increased opportunities for content curation.

Are you interested in revamping your digital strategy in the wake of these changes? Reach out to us! We’re here to help.


Related Content: Nonprofits: It’s Time to Think Twice About Facebook

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