iOS 14.5 Update Impacts Personal Injury Law Firm Marketing

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How the iOS 14.5 Update Impacts Personal Injury Law Firm Marketing

Apple’s release of the iOS 14.5 allows the tech giant to enforce an App Tracking Transparency Prompt (ATT) within its App Store. This new feature might affect how personal injury law firms market to potential leads.

The hotly-contested iOS 14.5 update is here, up and running since its official launch on April 26th, 2021. All iPhone users should expect to receive a notification prompting them to download the update.

This latest upgrade introduces an abundance of changes and features; the most Apple has ever done since the release of iPadOS 14 and iOS 14. One unique addition generating equal parts of both love and hate is the App Tracking and Transparency prompt. 

This simultaneously controversial and coveted feature enables iPad and iPhone users to allow or deny third-party apps access to their activities. Thereby, app developers have to seek permission from the users to obtain and share their unique identifier for advertisers (IDFA). 

Apple blocks apps from the App Store that do not comply with the dictates of the ATT prompt. The expectation is that the percentage of iPhone users sharing their IDFA with third-party apps will drastically reduce.

What this means for Facebook and other popular apps that heavily depend on user activity to generate quality leads is that they’ll suddenly find themselves at a significant loss for convenience in marketing efforts. Personal injury law firm marketers and other advertisers will soon suffer the consequences of this change, discovering how challenging it is to find and maintain clients without the advantages previously available to them. 

Targeting the right audience is paramount to finding the right people to get your message in front of who will benefit from or need your services. Not being able to track your potential customers’ online habits can hinder your ability to reach them consistently and effectively. 

Choosing an attorney for your legal plight can be daunting. Personal injury law firm marketers rely heavily on a marketing method called retargeting to build trust with their potential clients and personalize their message. Due to the intensity and vulnerability of selecting legal counsel, most users searching for a lawyer aren’t prepared to make an immediate purchase. Retargeting keeps track of who’s accessing your site and makes sure your ads keep popping up in their online channels and social feeds to get them coming back to you. 

Losses incurred by personal injury law firms due to the latest Apple update can include an inability to retarget leads, lessening that second chance at conversions, and increasing your cost-per-lead. Additionally, without valuable data tracking, law firms cannot create “lookalike audiences,” essentially operating in the dark as to who might be likely to interact with your website and convert to loyal customers by gaining from your services.  

Apple's New Privacy Policy

With the 14.5 updates, Apple released a new privacy policy. First, app developers who want to submit new applications and app updates must provide details concerning their application’s data collection methods on the product page. Additionally, their apps must seek a user’s permission before tracking their activities across websites and apps owned or operated by other organizations.

Also, developers must furnish Apple Store Connect with facts regarding their privacy execution. For instance, a developer utilizing analytics SDKs (a third-party code) must explain the data they intend to collect and its related use.

Lastly, a developer must obtain a user’s consent through the ATT framework to access their Apple product’s advertising identifier or track down their activities. To do so, they need to input a purpose string in the system prompt that spells out the reasons for tracking users.

The US and Global Consumer Privacy Acts

According to iClg, personal information is defined differently across the US, with regulations varying by state. Also, the definition of a consumer differs state-to-state, explaining the rapidly developing privacy laws designed to better protect them.

The various changes made in data practices within the last five years also inform us about the increasing number of policies as states struggle to update or review their existing laws to cater to their current realities. Finally, the increasing public concern regarding uncontrolled data use and accumulation leading to increased cyber-crime cases also contributes to the need for the development of new policies.

An excellent example is the GDPR, establishing a legal framework of data collection and processing guidelines designed to encourage competition and power distribution. The regulation was affected in May 2018 to replace the European Directive 95/46/EC. Its main objective is to provide increased protection to individuals’ privacy related to the exploitation of their personal information. It introduced stricter measures for data controllers responsible for processing and managing EU citizens’ data.

The regulation protects data subjects in the following ways:

  • A data controller must furnish data subjects with details regarding processing their information, where they will be processing it, and the objectives.
  • Before storing, processing, or handling a data subject’s information, a controller must obtain their consent.
  • A data subject can request a controller to provide them with all their past personal data and take it to a different data controller.
  • Data subjects can get a copy of all their information from a controller within a month upon request.
  • A data subject can request a data controller to stop third parties from processing their data.
  • If a data breach may lead to a data subject’s risk of freedom and rights, a data controller must notify them within seventy-two hours after becoming aware of the situation. 
  • Violators of the regulation can attract a fine of 2% of global revenue or 10 million €. If the offense is serious, a violator may have to part with 4% of global revenue or 20 million € in fines.

Another privacy law is the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), separating the sharing and selling of personal details, creating new rights for consumers. According to the Act, sharing personal information means giving out personal details to third parties for non-financial endeavors, cross-context behavioral advertising, or other valuable processes.

The policy provides California residents with the right to opt-out of sharing or selling their credentials. It stipulates that consumers have the right “to direct a business that sells or shares personal information about the consumer to third parties not to sell or share the consumer’s personal information.”

Residents also have the right to opt-out of data profiling. Per the policy, profiling is the refining of personal details “to evaluate certain personal aspects relating to a natural person, and in particular to analyze or predict aspects concerning that natural person’s performance at work, economic situation, health, personal preferences, interests, reliability, behavior, location or movements.”

The final policy is the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) that imposes several restrictions on obtaining or collecting biometric details. It allows Illinois residents to sue businesses and recover compensation for violations committed against them.

At the start of 2019, the State of Illinois Supreme Court provided a thorough explanation of the Act. It indicated that to sue their violators, Illinois residents are not required to show any harm caused apart from the company violating their fundamental legal rights.

How will IDFA changes impact ads?

One significant change accompanying the iOS 14.5 update is the need for apps to seek clear-cut permission from users to access their Apple identifier for advertisers (IDFAs). An IDFA is an arbitrary code given to each iOS user that advertisers use to distribute personalized ads, targeting their ideal customer. Another use for these unique identifiers is attribution and tracking. 

One analysis estimates that only about 5% of users have opted in so far, presenting bad news for most social media channels and personal injury law firm marketers alike. Lawyers are missing out on an opportunity to reintroduce themselves to customers still weighing their options and teetering on the edge of retaining a personal injury attorney to represent them in their effort to seek compensation for their legal damages. 

Often, such a large purchase and commitment requires follow-up and a bit of a push to reassert the law firm’s value to the potential client. Without the ability to retarget interested users and personalize their online search experience, law firms are likely to suffer a reduction in conversions. 

Requiring apps, social media platforms, and top search engines to seek permission from Apple users before accessing their IDFAs will inevitably impact ads in the following ways:

Advertisers using Amazon’s mobile app or website won’t notice any significant changes to the way things have been because Amazon owns their application and website. Additionally, it’s compiling and retaining customer details and first-party audiences on its own. So, there won’t be a heavy impact on Amazon-sponsored brands, products, and display advertisements.

Contrarily, those advertising on Amazon’s demand-side platform (DSP) might experience considerable change since non-Amazon apps and websites can host their ads, and a vast number of Apple users may deny advertisers access to their IDFAs.

Google

Similarly, Google advertisers should brace themselves for fluctuating performance. The Apple updates might force advertisers to keenly oversee their marketing campaigns and streamline their audience, financial expenditure, and bidding. Additionally, they may need to commit themselves to a maximum of eight marketing campaigns per installed app for application-based campaigns.

Facebook

Among the most affected by the iOS 14.5 updates are Facebook advertisers due to the expected massive reduction in data targeting and gathering abilities. The platform will need to implement more privacy-associated changes that will eliminate particular functionalities, such as A/B testing capabilities. Additionally, Facebook must utilize Apple’s SKAdNetwork attribution API for app install measurement to limit app install campaigns.

Instagram

Like Facebook, Instagram advertisers will also be heavily affected if more Apple users deny access to their IDFAs since the changes will weaken the platform’s ability to target ads depending on people’s behaviors and reactions.

Considerable time may pass before advertisers realize the full effect of the changes, as many Apple users might not install the update immediately. 

Twitter

Unlike Facebook and Instagram, this platform promises only a modest impact from the iOS update and expects its profits to continue in 2021. According to Twitter’s business page, its advertisers should continue waiting for more updates since there are still many unknowns, including post-ATT product updates such as SKAdNetwork view-through attribution, Twitter’s ATTprompt, and upgrades to campaign administration.

Snapchat

Snapchat admits the demand for ads on its platform may be interrupted due to the update, but it supports Apple’s stance on user privacy and high integrity. To honor that, the platform initiated a new iOS 14 resource base to enable Snap advertisers to navigate the anticipated effects of the change.

How will the iOS 14.5 update impact personal injury law firm marketing?

Personal injury lawyers need to market their services to attract and retain clients. The recent iOS 14.5 updates will significantly affect their outreach, particularly with retargeting. Retargeting strives to reach the majority of website visitors that do not convert on their first visit to your website for a second time. Retargeting or remarketing is a way of keeping your brand in front of your audience. 

The upgrade intends to alter default app tracking permissions from opt-out to opt-in. This change makes it difficult for social media platforms, including Facebook and Instagram, to track Apple phone users’ activities if they deny access to their IDFAs, resulting in a lack of personalized ads and support of businesses that rely on digital advertising. 

The IDFA effectively performs the same basic function as third-party cookies. It allows advertisers to link actions and events, like ad clicks and app installs, to individual phones. This way, they can serve to retarget users with relevant ads and increase ad revenue. Personal injury practice lawyers will now be unable to access crucial leads and place their ads on various social platforms to retarget potential clients.

The update only affects paid Facebook and Instagram marketing. Specifically, it really only affects retargeting for lawyers since conversion event changes impact e-commerce, not offline transactions. Custom and lookalike audiences are unaffected.

Additionally, website conversions will be attributed to the date when they happen instead of when the user clicks on or views an ad, resulting in reporting delays. This change affects an advertiser’s ability to track ROI effectively. Data is everything in digital marketing. Without it, it’s difficult for law firms and other advertisers to track what’s working and what needs improving. It also presents a challenge to marketers attempting to create and target their ideal audience. 

Personal injury law firm marketers might need to shift their processes to focus more on paid promotional media and earned and owned channels, including:

  • Google Ads
  • Email campaigns
  • Organic social content (i.e., keyword targeting)
  • Website changes to increase organic rankings (i.e., search engine optimization)

Personal injury lawyers might also need to build their own referral networks and invest some time researching their audience and behaviors with less reliance on algorithms and data tracking. 

Replacing cookies is a fruitless effort for personal injury lawyers hoping to advertise their services effectively as they move into the future of marketing. Transparency in outreach might help restore confidence among users as a push for first-party relationships and data collection is inevitable. 

Choice and control are paramount to marketers’ success moving forward, with about 75% of US adults surveyed by geofencing firm Herow in November 2019 saying that they could get on board with tracking if given control over the use of their information. Getting users’ permission by utilizing first-hand data granted to you by the customer can be the key to overcoming the challenges presented by the recent iOS 14.5 update.

Other Impacts of the iOS 14.5 Update

Two significant impacts accruing from the update include the following:

  1. Advertisers will find it challenging to send their ads to the correct targets, especially if consumers say no to tracking.
  2. Marketers will no longer have user behavior data to determine the success of their campaigns.

Facebook opposed the update by discouraging Apple users from cutting off tracking activities, claiming doing so will keep the platform free of charge.

Other impacts include:

  • Data collection: The update will negatively impact how data is collected due to low opt-in rates by consumers. Without data, marketers are operating without guidance about who’s interacting, how they’re interacting, and what they can do to encourage future interaction leading to heightened conversions. 
  • Personalization: The lack of sufficient user data also means that companies and data brokers will not have enough information to generate user profiles. It’s long-accepted and understood that consumers respond strongly to personalization. Buyers want to not only know that a service is valuable but that it’s valuable to them specifically. 
  • Targeting: Platforms such as Facebook and Instagram will lack adequate user data to develop solid ads targeted for companies and businesses. For personal injury law firms particularly, these changes inhibit retargeting already interested clients. 
  • Reporting: If more users opt-out of tracking, ad performance reporting will reduce both web and app conversion activities. Opting out essentially eliminates those users as potential leads via ad targeting. Marketers will need to rely more heavily on organic methods to attract these prospects and first-hand data to track results. 

Why measuring the success of campaigns is crucial

Businesses and advertisers, including personal injury law firms, need to measure the success of their campaigns for the following reasons:

  1. To obtain more knowledge regarding consumer behavior
  2. For firms to realize a return on their investments (ROI)
  3. To realize a campaign’s objectives
  4. Enables brands to make informed decisions

How fast will the changes happen?

The adoption of the iOS 14 update is showing more promise than iOS 13. In late 2020, Apple reported that iOS 14 is running on 72% of all devices. How fast remaining Apple users will enable this update is unknown, but the numbers show that about 10% of users are still operating on systems older than iOS 13, meaning many might be ready for an update as support for older systems wanes. 

It’s too soon to tell how fast advertisers will begin to see the results of the changes as Apple users adopt the updates. Several variables can affect impending outcomes, including Apple users’ decisions to opt-in or out and how third-party applications in the Apple store will comply with the new instructions. 

What happens if I do not adapt to the updates?

For now, it’s not mandatory to acquire the update, but you’ll miss out on the new features until you do. Other features accompanying the update include mask support for Face ID, App Tracking Transparency, new music players, and new emojis. 

Additionally, your personal information is at risk, and companies can continue tracking and targeting you until you adopt the option to opt out. Even if you choose to opt-in, the objective is to give you increased control over your personal data. 

Are there any benefits to the iOS 14.5 update?

By updating your iOS to 14.5, you’ll benefit in the following ways:

  1. Security fixes for vulnerabilities: The new update covers the security loopholes found on Apple’s previous operating systems.
  2. New features: The update includes new exciting features mentioned above.

Early Responses to iOS 14.5 Updates

When Apple initially announced its intention of launching the iOS 14.5 updates, top advertising firms and search engines responded uniquely:

Facebook

Facebook announced it started testing a screen that would go hand-in-hand with Apple’s ATT prompt. The primary aim was to provide Apple users with more information on why and how it utilizes an individual’s website and app activity, with transparency and awareness paramount to users making informed decisions.

The reason for this response was to convince Apple users not to deny Facebook access to their IDFAs to enable the platform to continue receiving vital user data and send users targeted campaigns, thereby arguably also continuing to support businesses. The social media platform even created a page for small businesses to discuss the update’s effects and a hashtag specific to the cause, #StandUpForSmallBusinesses. 

Many personal injury law firms fall into the small business category by definition,  employing less than 100 individuals and operating as privately owned corporations, partnerships, or sole proprietorships. 

Google

Google responded to Apple’s announcement by releasing a notice on May 6th, 2021, regarding Android’s future and user data transparency. In the message, Google announced upcoming safety features in Google play to become more privacy-centric. This announcement constituted an in-direct response to Apple’s iOS 14.5 update, remaining relevant and competitive. 

The good news for personal injury law firms is that Google might offer an excellent alternative to garner more leads. If marketers shift their focus to Android users when creating marketing campaigns, they might be able to make up for some losses. Additionally, investing in Google AdWords can help supplement your organic (unpaid) methods as part of your overall marketing plan.

How can you minimize the impact of the iOS 14.5 update?

In addition to the shift in focus mentioned above, you can minimize the effects of the iOS 14.5 update on:

Websites

First, you can consider organic (non-paid) marketing or posting consistent content for website-based campaigns. The impact of organic efforts accumulates long-term and remains unaffected by privacy concerns. 

You can also utilize direct response marketing, which entails deploying list-building strategies. This method involves adding names to databases or emails to increase traffic and target your marketing using first-party access.

Apps

If you’re utilizing app-based campaigns, you can upgrade to the current Google analytics and transfer your current application campaigns to tCPA rather than tROAS.

Other alternative marketing methods include:

  1. Developing a diversified marketing plan for your law firm practice
  2. Engaging in community outreach
  3. Performing website tracking

Final Thoughts

The iOS 14.5 update is generating a lot of buzz in the advertising sector. Many popular sites such as Google, Facebook, and Instagram are crying foul about the updates. 

Despite the surrounding conflict, Apple maintains its stand on the matter in response to user concerns and vows to eliminate applications that refuse to comply with its directive timely. 

Though these changes will inevitably impact personal injury law firm marketing, there are steps you can take to minimize any adverse effects. A digital marketing firm can help you devise an alternative plan to fit your ongoing outreach needs while adapting to the future of marketing. Contact us here at CAMG to see how we can help you.

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