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How iOS 14 may affect your Facebook Advertising

Apple has announced changes to how Facebook will receive conversion events from Facebook pixel on iOS14 devices. Any business that advertises mobile apps, as well as anyone optimising, targeting and/or reporting on web conversion events will likely see their businesses impacted. This is due to the release of Apples AppTracking Transparency Framework, which requires all apps in the App Store to show a permission prompt to users on iOS 14 devices when sharing information.

These changes have the potential to dramatically affect app developers ability to measure and monetise advertising. How severely these changes impact on the Facebook Pixel with regards to in-app activity on iOS devices and onsite activity by shoppers is unclear. But there is potential for disruption as less data is passed back to Facebook.

Facebook are providing continual updates on Apple’s iOS 14 privacy changes and how they may impact your campaigns here.

We expect Facebook advertising to be affected in a variety of ways including:

  1. Delayed Reporting: Real-time reporting for iOS devices will not be supported, and data may be delayed up to 3 days.
  2. No support for breakdowns: For both app and web conversions, delivery and action breakdowns, such as age, gender, region, and placement will not be supported.
  3. Attribution Changes: The attribution window for all new or active ad campaigns will be set at the ad set level, rather than at the account level. Additionally, going forward, 28-day click-through, 28-day view-through, and 7-day view-through attribution windows will not be supported for active campaigns.
  4. Targeting Limitations: As more people opt out of tracking on iOS 14 devices, the size of your app connections, app activity Custom Audiences, and website Custom Audiences may decrease.
  5. Dynamic Ads Limitations: As more devices update to iOS 14, the size of your retargeting audiences may decrease.
  6. Limited to 8 conversion events per domain: You’ll be restricted to configuring up to 8 unique conversion events per website domain, and ad sets optimizing for a conversion event that’s no longer available will be paused when Facebook implements Apple’s AppTrackingTransparency framework. Businesses that use more than 8 conversion events per domain for optimization or reporting should create an action plan for how to operate with 8 events maximum. (Note: Facebook will automatically configure the events most relevant based on our activity)

Facebook have come out swinging against the changes, with newspaper ads in the United States stating the “average small business advertiser stands to see a cut of over 60% in sales for every dollar they spend” on ads. In an official blog post Facebook stated the policies are harmful to the ‘free internet’ and make some forceful statements about how it will impact small businesses:

They’re creating a policy — enforced via iOS 14’s AppTrackingTransparency — that’s about profit, not privacy. It will force businesses to turn to subscriptions and other in-app payments for revenue, meaning Apple will profit and many free services will have to start charging or exit the market.

They’re hurting small businesses and publishers who are already struggling in a pandemic. These changes will directly affect their ability to use their advertising budgets efficiently and effectively. Our studies show, without personalized ads powered by their own data, small businesses could see a cut of over 60% of website sales from ads. We don’t anticipate the proposed iOS 14 changes to cause a full loss of personalization but rather a move in that direction over the longer term.

They’re not playing by their own rules. Apple’s own personalized ad platform isn’t subject to the new iOS 14 policy.

We disagree with Apple’s approach, yet we have no choice but to show their prompt. If we don’t, we’ll face retaliation from Apple, which could only further harm the businesses we want to support. We can’t take that risk.

We have been aware of these changes since late August thanks to Apple Insider and have been taking steps to better understand impacts and attempt to minimise disruption.

With data now the world’s most valuable commodity and more social awareness of the value of ones personal data, the impacts of social media (thanks to documentaries like The Social Dilemma) & the commercial opportunities data presents. We anticipate this event to form a start in the shifting perspective away from automatic opt in to optional opt out first with regards to data sharing. Bringing with it commercial dilemmas for advertisers & opportunities for the nimble competitor.

Things you can do to prepare:

1. Verify your domain ownership in Business Manager. This will allow you to have authority over which conversion events are eligible for your domain https://developers.facebook.com/docs/sharing/domain-verification
2. ROAs will likely appear lower in the coming days & you may not be able to simply look at yesterday’s data when assessing performance. Instead you may need a 3 day window.
3. Whilst not flagged or commented on by Google, we expect this iOS change to impact Google Ads as well, so get ready.

We expect a shift in strategy back to the days of old will occur i.e. less automation/AI input due to less data & more manual handling across ad campaigns. Though i am sure Facebook will be aiming to minimise these impacts as best they can.

Ultimately, the downside risk is capped due to the nature of the Facebook auction system. Driven by supply-and-demand, if performance dwindles, so does price. Less success (performance & efficiency) translates into less ad spend. Less spend, lower CPMs, lower cost per acquisition. And lower costs drive the platform back to a point where it provides meaningful scale.

If the sky does fall, that’s the hedge.

If you’re unprepared, contact us to see how we can help.

Author avatar
Mark L