Digital Communications & Technology in Healthcare Blog DMD Intelligence

What Healthcare Marketers Need to Know About Apple’s iOS 14.5

With all the recent discussion surrounding Google’s deprecation of third-party cookies and Apple’s recent iOS 14.5 release, it’s no wonder healthcare marketers are feeling uncertain—and even anxious. What do these movements really mean for healthcare marketing and HCP engagement?Apple is the number one consumer electronics brand in the world

To fully understand the impact of iOS 14.5, it’s important to consider both the motivation and mechanics behind Apple’s transition to greater transparency.

To Track or Not to Track… That Is the Question

Apple’s previous options regarding privacy—in respect to location services—allowed users to choose from one of three options. 

  • Only While Using the App
  • Always Allow
  • Don't Allow

With iOS 14.5, the options are now:

  • Allow Tracking, or
  • Ask App Not to Track


It’s not surprising that most users will choose “Ask App Not to Track.” Allowing location is one thing—and can actually be beneficial (as I recently found out on a road trip with my family). But, “tracking” resonates as much more invasive. While this transition does not eliminate the device graph completely, it does require users to actively opt-in. By taking this stance, Apple has positioned itself as a champion of data privacy.

However, to be fair, Apple does not sell advertising. They sell devices and operating systems; they are considered a hardware company, not an advertising company—like Google and Facebook. So, it's much easier to have a “soapbox moment” by taking this position with its App Tracking Transparency (ATT) privacy platform.

From DMD’s perspective, iOS 14.5 presents fewer challenges than most healthcare marketers perceive. There is a way to strike a balance between championing data privacy and still allowing healthcare marketers to achieve great results with their targeting efforts. In preparation for the iOS 14.5 launch, we turn the focus to email and social media—two of the “stable” digital channels within which marketers can (and should) start to optimize.

Which Would You Rather: A “Maybe” or the Sure Thing?

Now that iOS 14.5 is live, onboarding to social platforms will undergo a significant transition—similar to the unknown environment programmatic will enter when Google phases out third-party cookies. In fact, there’s already problems with onboarding now. Many data providers use the following to build an HCP database:

With DMD, healthcare marketers can effectively future-proof multichannel campaigns in the social media space.  

  • Self-Declared: Self-reported profession. Cannot identify specific HCPs.
  • "Look-Alikes": Good for finding similar demographics but terrible for finding a group of specific individuals.
  • Probabilistic Matching: Household or Geo/IP-based targeting. They might be the right individuals. They might not be the right individuals. Non-opted in.

In addition, the data most providers use is inaccurate or inflated. At DMD, we use a combination of HCP email and device graph to arrive at what we call “complete addressable social match.” This is possible thanks to two key factors:

Maximizing HCP Social Targeting

  1. DMD possesses records of an average of four emails per HCP, with 83% personal email address coverage. This is key, because HCPs (like most professionals) don't use their professional email to sign up for social media.
  2. DMD’s partner, Lasso—via their relationship with WarnerMedia’s advertising and analytics unit Xandr—has access to deterministic device IDs that have been opted in by HCPs.
We can then crosswalk HCP emails + phone numbers to maximize 1:1 HCP social reach.

Now Is the Time to Future-Proof Your Multichannel Campaigns

The next few months will not be without challenges. But, with DMD, healthcare marketers can effectively future-proof multichannel campaigns in the social media space--despite the impact of iOS 14.5. Our approach also mitigates the impending deprecation of third-party cookies. 

For more on the latter, we’re introducing a webinar series entitled, “HCPs and Digital Media: It’s First-Party Data that Matters, Not Cookies.” Get access to the webinars HERE.

About DMD

DMD, an IQVIA business, offers the only authenticated database available that can reach, report, and respond to the dynamic digital behavior of fully opted-in physicians and NP/PA prescribers. Through this database, pharmaceutical marketers, hospitals and health systems, medical societies, publishers, medical marketing agencies, and others have digital access to more than 90% of physicians with email addresses and real-time web activity data that unlocks precision targeting and engagement capabilities across the most influential healthcare audiences.