In late 2020, Apple released iOS 14 with a host of new features for iPhone users. However, in the digital marketing realm, the new Operating System poses an increased set of challenges as Apple will roll out an update in early 2021 that provides users more privacy control - specifically regarding how apps collect individual user data to use in online advertising.
This poses a massive problem for businesses leveraging social media marketing in their Inbound campaigns with the biggest impact being felt on Facebook and Instagram due to the size of their user base. When the privacy update is rolled out, iPhones will now ask users for permission to track their activity online across various websites and apps. And expectedly, most people will not accept this agreement. .” If a user declines Facebook’s prompt, Facebook will limit data and use Aggregated Event Measurement that restricts, aggregates, and delays event attribution.
Facebook is adopting Apple’s SKAdNetwork API to offer App Advertising on iOS 14 devices which aggregates and delays all app event data.
All app events under Apple’s SKAdNetwork API are put into three categories:
The current attribution window will be unsupported.
iOS 14 will only support 5 ad sets that use the same optimization in a campaign.
Demographic breakdowns will no longer be available.
Reporting will be delayed.
Without being able to track the online activity, Facebook and other platforms will have a harder time optimizing campaigns, targeting specific audiences, and precisely reporting data.
Although there are no statistics on how many people use Facebook on Apple devices compared to others, it's a significant number.
Tracking leads, purchases, add to carts, etc. with the pixel will be under-reported due to people opting out of Facebook’s tracking. Though it should be noted, only Apple device users will be affected.
Optimization will be affected because the pixel will not work as well as it has in the past. Facebook uses people’s location and actions to determine if they are the right audience for a specific ad. And without the ability to gain this data, Facebook's ad targeting tools become less effective.
This privacy update will also affect targeting your warm audience as well. Since Facebook will be unable to collect data on who visited your website from Apple devices, your retargeting audiences will be missing those users. However, manually uploaded customer lists will still be able to help identify a warm audience and lookalike of that audience.
Targeting an audience based on a user's interests will also be limited. Without the ability to gain insight from frequently visited websites and apps, there will be less data available to identify a user’s interests with. It's worth noting that this will not eliminate the ability completely though, as Facebook uses several resources to gain interest insights, and app tracking is just one of them.
Facebook ad campaign objectives that will be affected:
- App Installs
- Catalog Sales
How to Prepare Facebook Ads for the iOS 14 Update
- If you are using Facebook SDK, update to version 8.1 or above.
All Facebook advertisers (iOS and Android) can expect changes in business tool set up, targeting, delivery, and measurement.
There will be an 8-event limitation. Not only do you need to pick 8 events, but you also need to know the priorities of these events.
For optimization and targeting, the conversion window will change and there will be a reduction in website custom audiences.
For measurement, there will be no conversion event breakdown.
- Find out how many conversions you currently get (leads/purchases) from Apple devices.
Go to the desired campaign, ad set, or ad and use the Breakdown report. This can give you can idea of how this update may affect you by showing the devices they are using when interacting with your ad.
The update will also limit conversion tracking to 8 events (purchase, page views, etc). Choose the conversion events you want to use.
Examples: Add to cart, purchase, lead, custom conversions, etc.
- Verify your domain (this helps ensure that only the right people can edit link previews of your content)
- Create lookalikes of existing audiences that can “carry over” for a while after the change.
- Plan for increased monitoring and testing after the iOS14 release to identify areas that need more attention.
- Decrease in CTR – indicates lower quality targeting
- Decrease in audience size – inability to find matching profiles
- Increase cost per result – less effective optimization/ lower quality audience
What Can Advertisers Can Do
The true effects of this update won’t be known until it is rolled out, people start updating their Apple devices, and campaigns are run under the new guidelines. As stated before, not all Facebook users will be affected. It will only be Apple device users. However, Apple users are the majority of mobile device users.
The main action advertisers should take once this update is rolled out is to experiment with alternate optimizations and settings that could get you a similar result as before. This will not be possible in all cases. Advertisers will have to try and use new campaign objectives and metrics to get a similar result.
As advertisers get “settled in” to this new update, there will be resources developed to assist in mitigating the effects. In the meantime, following some of the recommended steps above will help to lessen the initial blow of the privacy updates in Facebook Ads and keep your ads in front of the right users in the coming months.