How Things Change - iOS 14 and the Issue with Facebook Ads

Social Media Marketing

iPhone taking a photo of the street and car below

“Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.” - Mary Shelley

I don’t know about you but I find change hard to deal with. Changing jobs; moving homes; I find switching shampoo tough enough! So when Apple announced the iOS 14 update and the data changes that come with it, I’m sure many digital marketers across the globe felt a tight knot of panic deep in their stomach.

The update and changes aren’t incredibly clear. However, when it comes to privacy, tracking and data – it very rarely is. So, we’re here to help bring some clarity around iOS 14, how it might impact Facebook Ads specifically and a couple of tips that can prepare you and your organisation for the impending change.

So what’s really going on here?

In short, Apple now requires all apps within their app store to show users a prompt that asks for their permission to be tracked outside the given app or platform. This “opt-in” process is distinctly different from the usual “opt-out” method used by many digital products. As a result, iOS 14 devices will now require user approval for a variety of things including:

  • Sharing location data

  • Displaying targeted advertising

  • Sharing email lists with a third party advertising network

This change caused such concern that Facebook VP of Ads and Business Products, Dan Levy, outlined in a post how these changes will have a “harmful impact on many small businesses that are struggling to stay afloat and on the free internet that we all rely on more than ever.” Once users update to iOS 14 and begin opting out of data collection and sharing, the landscape of digital advertising will begin to shift drastically.

Changes to Targeting

There is no question that these changes will impact targeting and impact organisations that rely on third party data. Apple’s new iOS 14 policy will limit an organisation's ability to track user behaviour and conversion events – which in some cases may render the Facebook pixel useless.

Less Personalisation

The effect of poorer targeting will also have an impact on personalisation. With less information available to publishers, the ability to create personalised ad sets for remarketing efforts becomes limited. The consequences of this are significant, with testing at Facebook outlining that “publishers experience more than a 50% drop in revenue when personalisation was removed from mobile app ad install campaigns.”

Diminished Ad Performance

Overall, these changes will impact an organisation’s ability to optimise for their desired audience and compete within their target market. From limited user data to inaccurate conversion reporting, the information being made available to publishers is no longer as detailed and reliable as it once was. As Dan Levy so aptly put it, “it doesn't do a local wedding planner any good to reach people who aren't planning a wedding.”

Is Facebook Advertising Still Worthwhile?

You may now be questioning whether Facebook is still a viable platform for advertising. Before you panic and switch off your ads, think about your industry segment, audience and current strategy. For example, if you’re using Facebook to build brand awareness and drive traffic to your site, a strategy with broader targeting can yield more positive results.

Also consider that Android and Desktop users are still unaffected by these changes. The ratio of mobile to desktop users varies greatly depending on industry, so more granular targeting will still reach these users.

The best way to see if Facebook ads remain worthwhile for your business is to track and measure results as the update comes into play. However, it is still good to be prepared and there are a handful of things you can do in anticipation for Apple’s iOS 14 policy update.

Get familiar with Aggregated Event Measurement

According to Facebook, any pixel conversion events from iOS 14 devices will now be processed through Aggregated Event Measurement. This limits domains to eight conversion events that can be used for campaign optimisation.

Strategise around conversion events and identify those that are most important to you. These can range from landing page views to purchases on site. This is vital as Facebook will only report on the highest ranking conversion event in order of your selected priority.

Though some assumptions have to be made, optimising your conversion events with desired user outcomes ensures that you receive some insight into your Facebook advertising strategy as things begin to change.

Verify your website’s domain

This may seem relatively obvious but is important to state. Domain verification is vital and will help you avoid any future disruption to any website campaigns. Not only does domain verification give you creative control over your organic links, it allows you to further configure pixel conversion events on domains where the Facebook pixel is active.

This process will be vital now more than ever as Facebook begins moving any advertising campaigns on iOS 14 devices to Aggregated Event Measurement.

Collect First Party Data

The changes that come with Apple’s iOS 14 update may start to push us towards a cookie free future. Google has also announced that they are moving away from the use of third party data. So start collecting your first party data – anything from purchase history to time spent on site – and use this information to create your audience. Concurrently, start thinking about lead generation tactics to further build on your existing customer databases.

Consider your digital advertising more broadly

Right now, this change is still strictly limited to iOS 14 devices. However, overall sentiment suggests that this is a watershed moment that foreshadows a broader shift.

Consider how this change might impact your advertising strategy on Android devices. Or how it might even impact desktop or tablet advertising. Actively consider how you might develop a more robust third-party data strategy and how you might leverage this for more effective marketing.

Just like the banner ads of old, or classic cold email marketing, change is afoot in our world. 

Being aware and prepared for it just might be the edge you need.

Interested in getting more out of your organization’s Facebook Advertising - get in touch with the team at Clue today.