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You may have noticed that user location in Google Analytics is looking a little strange these days. As data privacy continues to take center stage in the digital world, Apple’s iOS has been at the forefront of safeguarding user privacy. In a recent update, Apple has introduced a feature that skews the location of visitors to websites in Google Analytics. This article provides an insightful look into this location modification by iOS and delves into how marketers can still accurately target iOS users through Google Ads.

What’s happening:
iOS’s role in protecting user privacy

Apple has always championed user privacy, and in its relentless pursuit to protect user data, iOS has made significant changes. The latest iOS update includes a privacy feature that affects location reporting in Google Analytics. Specifically, this feature obscures the actual geographic location of iOS users visiting websites. As a marketer or website owner, this may raise concerns regarding the accuracy of your Google Analytics reports.

Whats Happening iOSs Role in Protecting User Privacy

Why is iOS
skewing location data?

Enhancing User Privacy

Enhancing User Privacy: Apple believes that a user’s location data is sensitive and personal. iOS’s location data modification is part of the company’s broader strategy to protect user privacy. This is in line with the growing trend of data protection regulations such as GDPR and CCPA.

Complications for Google Analytics

Implications for Google Analytics: Google Analytics has been a staple for website owners and marketers seeking to understand user behavior. However, with iOS’s location modification, the location data in Google Analytics may not be as reliable as it used to be. The system may show an imprecise location, which can impact data-driven decisions. We are seeing results in Analytics that shows conversions from people outside of our target areas, but when you layer the conversions with the data in Google Ads, you can see the targeted user location is accurate. 

But What About Google Ads

But What About Google Ads?: Interestingly, while iOS’s privacy feature affects location data in Google Analytics, it doesn’t have the same impact on Google Ads.

precision remains

When running ad campaigns targeted at iOS users, Google Ads can still pinpoint their locations accurately. This is because Google Ads uses different data sources and methodologies to infer user locations. The location targeting in Google Ads is based on a variety of signals including GPS, device settings, and Wi-Fi networks which ensures the precision of ad targeting.

Targeting Precision Remains

Syncing Google ads
and Google analytics

Whats Happening iOSs Role in Protecting User Privacy

To reconcile the differences between Google Ads and Google Analytics, it’s important to have a clear understanding of how each platform processes location data. Align your marketing strategies knowing that Google Ads can accurately target iOS users, but Google Analytics will show skewed locations for these users.

Best practices for marketers
in the iOS privacy era

Understand The Difference: Acknowledge that Google Analytics and Google Ads handle iOS location data differently. Make informed decisions based on this knowledge.

Leverage Google Ads for Location Targeting: Use Google Ads for precise location targeting of iOS users and tailor your campaigns accordingly.

Diversify Metrics: Don’t rely solely on location data in Google Analytics. Use a variety of metrics to get a more comprehensive understanding of your audience.

Educate Your Team: Make sure everyone involved in your digital marketing efforts understands the nuances of iOS’s impact on location data.


Navigating the iOS privacy landscape can be challenging, but with a clear understanding of how Apple’s privacy features affect location data in Google Analytics, marketers can continue to make data-driven decisions. Remember that while location data may be skewed in Google Analytics, Google Ads remains a powerful tool for accurately targeting iOS users. Stay informed, adapt your strategies, and keep safeguarding user privacy as a top priority.

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with Greenbaum Stiers

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