How Apple’s iOS14 Update Will Impact Your Facebook Ads

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What is the Apple iOS14 Update?

Apple’s iOS14 update, an ongoing rollout, will require Apple device users running iOS14 to explicitly grant permission to all websites, mobile/apps, etc. with marketing or advertising tracking enabled before they can gather data and follow that users activity across the web. 

See examples of prompts end users will now receive below:

Why is This Happening Now?

Since 2018, Seer has covered the overarching topic of user privacy and data protection across 14+ pieces of content. 

This renowned focus came as a result of the following regulations that rocked the digital marketing and advertising industry over the past 2 years:

  • May 2018: GDPR (European General Data Processing Regulation)
  • December 2019: CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act)
  • March 2019: ITP2.1 (Apple’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention 2.1)
  • June 2019: ETP (Firefox’s Enhanced Tracking Prevention)
  • February 2020: SameSite (Google Chrome’s Security Update)
  • July 2020: LDU (Facebook’s Limited Data Use Feature)
  • November 2020: 7-Day Attribution Update (Facebook's Move from 28-Day)

We’ve seen a common thread across these drastic shifts from corporations like Google, Apple, Mozilla, etc: a more secure, controlled experience on the Internet for users everywhere.

This most recent announcement from Apple didn’t exactly come as a shock to us. While the larger impact across all websites, mobile/apps, etc. is yet to be known, we have a good understanding of how iOS14 will affect Facebook Advertising

Keep reading for more details specific to Facebook, or skip right to our preparation checklist if you’re ready to take the next step. 

How Will Apple’s iOS14 Update Affect Facebook Advertising?

Impact on Ad Personalization

Reduced Targeting Precision

With the iOS14 rollout, users will explicitly need to opt-in to being tracked, both within Facebook and across apps and websites that Facebook may serve ads on via their audience network. 

As a result of Apple’s iOS 14 update, we anticipate seeing a reduction in custom audience sizes as some users opt-out of being tracked. 

Examples of audiences that can be impacted may include users who visit a product page without completing a purchase, users imported via CRM lists, and more.

Impact on Conversions & Reporting

Delayed Conversion Data

We’ve known since Q4 2020 that Facebook would be replacing the 28-day attribution window for a 7-day window, but we now also know that real-time reporting will NOT be available for any/all conversion events triggered from Apple devices running iOS14. 

As a result of Apple’s iOS14 update, Facebook is now predicting conversion reporting delays of up to 3 days. That’s a stark difference from near real-time.

Removal of Audience Insights

Delivery and Action breakdowns like age and gender will no longer be accessible in reporting. While we’ll still be able to target users based on their demographic information, we will NOT be able to access that data in reporting.

Restricted Event Tracking

There will now be a limit of 8 conversion events per Facebook ad account. These events can be pixel-based or custom conversions. 

Conversion events will be ranked by priority, and if multiple conversions are completed by one user, the higher priority event will be reported on. For instance, if a user were to complete both an “add to cart” conversion event and a “purchase” conversion event on your website after clicking through a paid ad, Facebook would only report the “purchase” conversion event. 

We've visualized this new concept below:

This is in contrast with how we're used to counting conversions in Facebook:

Facebook is actively developing a new Event Configuration Tool to support this change and it should be available by the end of the month.

What’s Next for Facebook Amid Apple’s iOS14 Update?

The full-scale effects of the iOS14 update are still unknown as we wait to see what percentage of Facebook users choose to opt-out of tracking. 

What we do know is that any historical performance or benchmarks we have will look different in coming months as these changes roll out. But it’s our job to analyze the impact and pivot our reporting and targeting given these new constraints. 

It’s the nature of digital platforms to be in a constant state of change, and we have confidence Facebook & Instagram will remain an important channel for advertiser’s holistic Digital strategies. 

Facebook has already begun to roll out new tools in order to combat the anticipated loss of tracking ability. The Aggregated Events Measurement tool will be introduced in early 2021 and will help support reporting on web events and conversions through data sharing. Facebook has also communicated their product team will be working to solve for cross-domain measurement in the upcoming months. 

Apple’s iOS14 update will impact the majority of advertising platforms, however, the implications will eventually become the “new normal”. 

We will find ways as an advertising community to deliver alternative methods of personalized ads and conversion tracking that are privacy compliant and respectful of the wishes of our users.

How to Prepare Your Facebook Ads for Apple's iOS14 Update

4-Step Checklist:

  1. Download all historical data from your account for future comparisons
  2. Ensure your app is updated and in compliance with Apple’s iOS14 guidelines
  3. Ensure you’ve verified your domain(s) in Facebook Business Manager
  4. Evaluate your current conversion events and determine which eight are the highest priority to keep, then customize them in the Events Manager

Seer will continue to report on what we see in the marketplace and in our own data to bring you the latest on user privacy effects on marketing. Please let us know your questions so we can continue to help find you answers:

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Kia Street
Kia Street
Sr. Manager, Marketing
James Corr
James Corr
Assoc. Director, Digital Measurement Solutions