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How iOS14 impacts Facebook advertising for hospitals and healthcare systems.

How Apple’s New Updates Affect Healthcare Marketing

Throughout 2021 Apple has rolled out operating system updates focused on increasing user privacy. This is good news for people who don’t want others knowing what websites they visit or apps that are on their phone; but it’s bad news for marketing campaign tracking and optimization.

These changes force marketers to rethink how they gather and use marketing data to target and message to prospects. We’ll discuss the implications these changes may have in healthcare marketing as well as provide tips on adapting your campaigns accordingly.


iPhone Users Represent a Significant Portion of Online Activity

Through their mobile devices, Apple holds a large portion of the online audience.

During the first quarter of 2021, mobile devices (excluding tablets) were responsible for 54.8 percent of global website traffic. Within that mobile device audience, Apple holds the highest smartphone market share in the United States with 52.6 percent. As of March 2021, Apple’s mobile Safari browser had a market share of almost 56 percent – making it the most popular mobile internet browser in the United States.

Chart showing device usage of Facebook users worldwide as of January 2021

Device usage of Facebook users worldwide as of January 2021 (from Statista)


Depending on your target market and geographic area of operation, the number of website visitors you have via Apple mobile devices could be significantly higher – we have clients whose iPhone audience accounts for as much as 68% of their website visitors.

While these changes impact only users of iOS devices, when you consider Apple’s mobile market share, and the volume of Apple’s mobile online audience, the impact of these privacy changes is too large to simply ignore.

Apple is changing the way digital marketing data is gathered and shared.

User data is tracked on websites through snippets of code, called pixels, which have allowed advertisers to see what websites customers are coming from, their website browsing activity (e.g., the products or services they look at or purchase, what forms they fill out, button clicks, etc.). Pixels can even track geographic location data, and what kind of device a person is using.

In April 2021 Apple introduced the App Tracking Transparency feature. This update gives iPhone users the ability to choose whether they want apps on their mobile device to track their activity through pixels. If a user chooses to not share their data, iOS devices severely limit the data a mobile app like a web browser can share with a marketing platform like Facebook.

The impact of this update on healthcare marketing is significant.

Consider the marketing impact for people who choose to opt-out of sharing their data:

  • Advertisers can’t retarget these users based on web site activity.
  • Less conversion data is available to show how many people took desired online actions.
  • Less user data is available for audience insights and marketing optimization.

These restrictions do not only apply to people who have chosen to opt-out of data collection. Even if someone hasn’t opted-out, Apple is significantly reducing the amount of data on all users that is sent to media platforms and marketing systems.

What You Can Do – An Action Plan

In response to Apple’s changes, Facebook has begun requiring organizations to complete some specific account activities. Here are a few actions you can take immediately to ensure your Facebook campaigns are allowed to run, and track activity and conversions properly. Here is a short to-do list of what’s required to be compliant with Facebook’s updates.

  • Set up a Business Manager Account.

    A lot of businesses have held off from setting up their Facebook Business Manager. In the past It may have been a little daunting and the benefit was unclear. To many it seemed like an added step that you didn’t need to take. To do any of the following steps you must have a Business Manager account.

    If you haven’t set one up yet now is the time. While you’re at it, take the time to verify your business as well. Anything that helps Facebook trust that your business is legitimate (you are who you say you are) will make things easier in the future.

  • Verify your domain.

    This is simple – Facebook just wants to know that you are a legitimate business and that you own the domain/web site where you are sending people to from your ads. They have provided a few different methods by which you can verify your ownership of your website domain.

    These are all straightforward activities, although depending on your website you may need to get help from a member of your IT team.


  • Create a Facebook pixel owned by your Business Manager.

    Pixels are the pieces of code that gather and share marketing data online. In the past it was common for a website to have many Facebook pixels on it at one time.

    You may have many Facebook pixels on your site. Some may be left over from previous marketing campaigns. Some could be from different marketing teams or agencies. Some might even belong to the people who set them up and then left your organization.

    In the past that was OK. But not anymore.

    Facebook now wants you to track marketing activity through YOUR pixel, owned by YOUR Business Manager.

Do you see a trend here? This is all about controlling the authenticity of the data ownership:

  • Your business controls a Business Manager account.
  • That Business Manager account connects to a Verified Domain.
  • The Business Manager owns your pixel.

As a committed partner, we manage technical details like these (and more) every day for our clients – oftentimes they leave the technical adjustments like these to our team of specialist. This allows them to focus on their business instead of ever-changing technical requirements from platforms like Facebook.

What’s next?

Apple continues to roll out updates impacting reporting and data across the internet – Facebook, website data, email reporting and more. These updates are the first of many upcoming changes to online marketing data gathering, optimization and reporting.

If you have any questions about how to ensure you get the most out of your digital marketing, feel free to give us a call for a free …. [CTA HERE]



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