How the iOS 14.5 Update Will Impact Your Facebook Ads
And How You Can Beat Apple at Their Own Game
Apple’s new iOS 14.5 update — currently being rolled out to its iPhone and iPad users — has got digital marketers hot under the collar.
Informed consumers are welcoming the changes to their mobile operating system, and why wouldn’t they be? Apple is promising them enhanced privacy, the likes of which would protect their personal data more effectively than ever before.
On the flip side of the coin, digital marketers and advertisers around the globe are gritting their teeth in nervous anticipation. Enhanced consumer privacy will impact data tracking permissions, and therefore the efficacy of Facebook ads.
The situation is less than ideal. But it’s not as dire as you might think.
Let’s take a closer look at what to expect from the new update and how to avoid any major disruptions to your paid advertising.
App Tracking Transparency: What’s Changed?
Before the update, developers could easily track user data from within an app. Advertisers would take this data (along with similar information pulled from the rest of the web) to build a user profile that they could target with specific advertisements. The ability to track user behaviour made it easier to pair up a particular audience with the advertisements best suited to their age, interests, location, and browsing habits.
To access this information, developers would use an Apple-controlled system, Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA). They could also use a host of third-party tools to access user data when IDFA didn’t quite cut it.
While users have had the ability to turn off data sharing for a while, they would have needed to wade through their phone settings to do so. Now, developers are forced to ask users for permission to track their data every time they download a new app. Companies will no longer be able to track user data across different websites and apps unless those users have expressly allowed it right off the bat.
How This Will Affect Advertising and Marketing Agencies
Unsurprisingly, marketers are concerned that most (if not all) consumers will opt out of data tracking. Without access to user behaviour data, Facebook is unable to measure the efficacy of ad campaigns and marketers will be unable to target specific segments of the population.
Because the update will apply to all Facebook-owned apps like Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp, it will severely impact reach and frequency tactics. There will also be a major impact on any apps that use Facebook’s Audience Network for monetisation.
Before the update, Facebook was able to track user activity on other websites and in other apps through its own tracking code, the confusingly named Facebook Pixel. These pieces of code are installed on websites or apps, tracking when and how a user takes a significant action. So, if a user were to make a purchase, for example, visit a particular landing page, add an item to their cart, or change their mind about making a purchase, the Pixel would notify Facebook. The information gathered through Facebook Pixels helps marketers determine which ads work and which ads don’t, enabling them to make adjustments to their ads to improve them.
Previously, marketers could place as many Pixels as they wanted on their website for an unlimited number of campaigns. Now, it’s only possible to add eight Pixel objectives to a domain. So, not only is the amount of data you can collect significantly reduced, but any users who opt out of data sharing permissions still won’t be trackable.
Without the ability to track user behaviour, Facebook’s targeting function will be rendered almost completely ineffective and ad spend will become less efficient and more expensive. Without effective, personalised ads, fewer leads will be generated and sales will suffer.
How Facebook Ads Users Can Prepare for These Changes
Facebook has been fairly vocal about the iOS 14.5 update, and it’s no secret that such a big change will impact the social media platform’s revenue in a big way.
To try to minimise the impact of data loss, Facebook has created “Aggregated Event Measurement” which should help advertisers measure campaign performance despite Apple’s digital roadblock.
Below are the changes you can expect to see and how you can prepare for them:
Facebook is moving Pixels over to domain-based ownership, so you’ll need to verify your domain with Facebook to prevent disruption to your data.
Advertisers will be limited to eight conversion events, or eight custom conversion events. While you don’t need to do anything to adjust to this change, you’ll need to prioritise your eight most valuable events.
Facebook is removing 28-day attribution of any kind, which will affect your performance reporting. Reporting will change to 7-day post click and 1-day post view. For longer-term reporting, you will need to keep a separate account of the sales that occur from days 8 to 28.
There’s no real way around the fact that many iOS users will opt out of tracking. This will lead to a decrease in the number of app connections and custom audiences for web and app activity. The best way to mitigate this is to broaden your audience and reach out to more Android users, who will not be affected by the update.
Android’s global market share of 72,2% (compared to Apple’s 26,99%) indicates that there are many more Android users globally in any case. In South Africa, Android’s lead in market share is even more pronounced, with 84,09% for Android and 15,45% for iOS.
Value Optimization (VO):
Facebook will track fewer users once the iOS 14.5 update fully rolls out. To compensate for a dip in tracking, they’ve made some changes to who can use value optimization, which allows advertisers to bid for high-value users. Enabling this feature will help you grab hold of users who are most likely to take the desired action on your website.
However, you have to fulfil these requirements to be able to use the value optimization feature:
- Have an active Pixel, product catalogue, or Software Development Kit (SDK)
- Prioritise purchase events in your goal setting
- Have 100 or more optimised purchases in the last 10 days
- Have 10 or more distinct purchase amounts in the previous 7 days
Independent Tracking and Retargeting
Instead of using Facebook to monitor conversions on your website, you can use your website platform’s tracking system to discover what visitors are doing on your site and where they’re coming from. So roll up your sleeves and dive into your Google Analytics account.
While it isn’t ideal, you can also manually collect data to help with your retargeting efforts. Add a new landing page to your conversion flow and have users enter their name and email address. Upload the information you’ve collected to Facebook and create a custom audience from that list.
The iOS 14.5 has marketing and advertising agencies in knots about their ability to automate effective ad campaigns. Without the option to easily target users, generate leads, and measure conversion from Facebook ads, it’s becoming clear that strategies will need to shift.
There are, however, ways to continue using Facebook without too much of an adjustment. Facebook may be the biggest player in the game at the moment, and are clearly focussed on developing new methods of interest and behaviour tracking. So, it’s vital to stay in touch with any new techniques they are likely to release. In the meantime, an adjustment in audience targeting is the smart way to go.
As digital marketers, we need to be resilient and resourceful, adapting to updates and changes with innovative solutions. Operating system updates and increased awareness of personal privacy are par for the course. Some of them are minimal, some are life-changing, but there’s always a clever workaround.