IOS 14 Changes and Mobile Web Advertising on Facebook

IOS 14 Changes and Mobile Web Advertising on Facebook

Facebook advertising will not be the same.

There. We are not going to bury the lead. You came here for an answer to your question, so we gave it to you.

Now that you know the effect, we need to examine the causes. You need to know why Facebook advertising may not be what it has been for the past decade. 

We want to highlight the top-level questions that many advertisers are asking – and if not asking, at least should be wondering. 

WHAT WE’LL ANSWER HERE:

  • Why is Apple launching an iOS update that affects Facebook advertising?
  • How will the iOS 14 changes impact my Facebook advertising?
  • What should I do to prepare my Facebook advertising for these changes?
  • Should I consider other platforms for advertising?

Why is Apple launching an iOS update that affects Facebook advertising?

In late 2020, Apple announced that the next version of its operating system would require app developers to specifically ask for permission to access each user’s unique identifier.

Basically, this means that apps that like to use your data to deliver personalized ads will not automatically get to access your internet-surfing patterns.

Consider how often you see ads on the Facebook and Instagram apps for products or brands you were looking at just hours or even minutes before.

To this point, these social apps have been able to freely track your actions as you scroll through Amazon products, shop for your pet on Chewy, or jump on that sale at H&M. 

Until now.

With this Apple update, apps like Facebook must ask for your permission to access this valuable data. Though users have always been able to turn off tracking in an iPhone’s Settings, tracking permission has never been as straightforward and upfront as it is about to be. 

Apple CEO Tim Cook tweeted that the permission notification will likely look something like this. 

Why is Apple doing this? The company believes in what it is calling App Tracking Transparency – that users should have transparency in the decision whether or not apps have permission to track their actions. 

Data protection and privacy have been significant talking points over the years. This iOS 14 update is another (massive) step to protecting user’s actions.

How will the iOS 14 changes impact my Facebook advertising?

Tracking

Now that we know users must opt-in to tracking permissions, we can safely assume that many users, when forced to answer the prompt as they open Facebook and Instagram, are going to select, “Ask App Not to Track.” 

Clearly, that presents a problem for Facebook advertisers who are relying heavily on user data for retargeting, product purchases, past conversions, and recent website visiting patterns. 

To predict the future, we only need to use stats from the past. In an iOS 13 update, Apple required app developers to ask users for permission to share data when apps were not in use. Those opt-in rates average below 50%, according to Digiday. When app developers did not specifically have to ask for users to share their data, opt-in rates were always close to 100%. 

Naturally, we should suspect similar percentages for this upcoming App Tracking Transparency update.

The iOS 14 update has also forced Facebook to set an 8-pixel limit for optimizing on any domain. For any given domain, you should analyze your current Pixel Events and select the most impactful 8 Pixel Events to your overall advertising success. 

Unless you have a robust Facebook advertising strategy, this may not impact you. But, if it does, be sure you have a good understanding of which Pixel Events generate the best ROI for your brand.

Apple has also announced its launch of Private Click Measurement specifically for web attribution. This new concept limits the amount of data that an advertiser can see once users bounce off the platform.

For example, a local candle store runs a Facebook ad campaign promoting its seasonal products, pushing the target audience to its seasonal products landing page. With the new PCM concept within the iOS 14 update, that shift from the Facebook app to the new landing page domain is not going to properly attribute that sale.  

You may be wondering, “If everyone says no to data tracking and not all sales of products can be attributed, how are we even going to run quality ads for the right people?”

It’s a fair question, given what social advertisers have become accustomed to over the years. 

In response to the pending changes, Facebook has announced its launch of the Aggregated Event Measurement (AEM) software.

In short, this Facebook tool “will support your efforts to preserve user privacy and help you run effective campaigns” by using pixel conversion events. Facebook states that even with opt-outs looming, AEM will allow for efficient campaign delivery while protecting its users. 

Time will tell how effective AEM is in reporting on attribution from mobile web events. Facebook has offered its confidence, but the advertisers will make the call. 

Reporting

Another significant change advertisers should prepare for is reporting differences based on attribution windows. In the past, Facebook allowed for marketers to measure actions that a user took within 28 days of a conversion. 

Now, no attribution window will be longer than 7 days.

This change can certainly impact the perceived performance of your campaigns if you look at Facebook data in the same way you have before. Advertisers are losing 21 days of attribution that could have accounted for sales. 

To add to this, the iOS 14 PCM update delays displayed data by three days. Because this data lingers in the cosmos for a few days, numbers may look off compared to typical campaign performances. 

What should I do to prepare my Facebook advertising for these changes?

We covered a list of changes you should expect. Now, we need to cover how to prepare for these changes. 

Examine Attribution Window Data 

Because attribution windows are drastically changing, you should download current data for your different attribution windows. Particularly, you want to compare your ad data from the attribution windows that are going away and those that are staying.

GOING AWAY:
  • 28-day click
  • 28-day view
  • 7-day view
STAYING:
  • 7-day click and 1-day view
  • 7-day click
  • 1-day click
  • 1-day view 

Depending on which types of campaigns you run, you may not see a massive change in attribution numbers. But, studying the differences between these attribution windows gives you a better indication of the metrics to come. 

If you see a decline in campaign performance in June 2020, but those same “declines” occurred in campaigns in June 2019 when comparing different attribution windows, you can confidently share these results with the understanding of attribution window changes rather than wonder what happened in your current campaign. 

Verify Your Domain in Business Manager

This seems like a simple request, but Facebook is requiring all advertisers to verify their domains in Business Manager.

Facebook offers a few ways to do this, but an easy way to do so is to add a meta tag to the <head> of your homepage.

For detailed instructions, visit Facebook’s Business Help Center

Choose Your Conversion Events 

As mentioned earlier, advertisers who use more than 8 conversion event pixels on one domain need to choose which 8 are most important to your optimization efforts. 

Take stock of all the data within your Facebook Business Manager to determine which Conversion Events are most critical to your success. 

Should I consider other platforms for advertising?

All of these changes lead to this question.

Of course, the answer is yes! 

But, that does not mean you should give up on advertising with Facebook and Instagram. 

For years, brands of all sizes have spent sizable portions of their advertising budgets on Facebook and Instagram because of its cost effectiveness, its targeting opportunities, and its simple delivery to consumers. Despite all the changes stemming from iOS 14 updates, Facebook and Instagram are still working as hard as possible to make your advertising spend efficient and effective. 

Continue to work Facebook and Instagram into your budget. But, we encourage you to diversify your ad spend. Every ad platform has its unique benefits and could deliver impressive return on investment – if you test it out.

Interest radio. Niche social apps. Podcast sponsorships. Influencer partnerships. Know where your audience is, then push to allocate some of your ad spend to those platforms. 

Need a quick debriefer with a more…lighthearted…delivery? 

This TikTok gives us a great summary and should leave you with a laugh.  

Let’s Chat

These changes can be overwhelming. If you want help navigating these guidelines or have concerns about what these changes mean for your advertising budget, our team at Switch is happy to chat with you. 

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