What Apple’s iOS 14 Update Means for Your Facebook Ads

In a major win for user privacy, Apple’s iOS 14.5 update gives iPhone users a better idea of the kind of tracking that occurs on their devices. While privacy advocates have been celebrating, technology companies that rely on this data for their advertising platforms have been scrambling to develop workarounds.

Most notably, Facebook has been a vocal critic of the new changes, going as far as running a months-long media campaign arguing against the updates, claiming it would hurt their ability to serve personalized ads that many small businesses use.

So, what’s the deal with Apple and Facebook and how is it going to affect your ads? We’re here to break down what the new iOS 14.5 update means to your Facebook advertising strategy.

What is Apple doing?

Apple’s latest update has made significant changes to user privacy, most specifically on mobile apps. With the new update, Apple will require apps in the App Store to help users understand how the app uses their data. Any app that engages in what Apple defines as “tracking” must show a prompt to iOS users asking for their explicit permission to track and share the user’s in-app activity.

As more users opt-out of in-app tracking, advertisers will have a limited amount of information available to understand how their campaigns are performing.

How this affects Facebook advertising

These changes will affect every advertiser on Facebook, regardless of the device their audience uses to use Facebook. We expect to see these changes impact how Facebook tracks conversions, targeting, and reporting.

Conversions: Facebook will be restricting the number of conversion events you can create to eight per domain or pixel. You will also need to prioritize the events. It’s important to note that any changes to your events, including the order, will result in a reporting delay of 3 days. Be sure to select your events and priority order carefully.

Targeting and optimization: The limited pool of data will reduce the effectiveness of remarketing and Audience Network campaigns, along with reducing the quality of custom and lookalike audiences. You will still have access to the information people share on Facebook so regional and demographic targeting are available – though reporting breakdowns will not be available.

Reporting: There will be a reduction in data reporting, specifically in attribution. Attributions windows have been reduced from 28 days to 7 days. This may lead to fewer reported conversions in Ads Manager. This could also cause increases in cost-per-acquisition (CPA) or a decrease in return on advertising spend (ROAS). It’s important to note that iOS users who opt out of tracking will only be eligible to register one conversion event.

Facebook will no longer support the 7-day view-through and the 28-day click- and view-through attributions. However, you will be able to view historical data through the API. Home builders will need to rely on other tools like Google Analytics to measure conversions from Facebook campaigns.

What do we do now?

Even though the new iOS update has been released, you still have a couple of options available.

Facebook’s recommended approach

Facebook recommends advertisers verify their website domains to claim ownership. This must be done through a Business Manager account. There are a few different ways you can verify ownership of your domain: you can add a DNS TXT entry to your DNS record, you can upload a Facebook-provided HTML file to your web directory, or you can add a meta tag to the <head> section of your home page.

After verifying your domain, you need to set up eight conversion events you want to track. This can be done in Events Manager and should be done by the pixel owner, not your agency partner. An event is any action taken on your website, like a page view, form submission, or button click.

The final step is creating an ‘Allow List’ of domains that are allowed to send events to your Facebook pixel. Use top-level domains for your list. This will include any subdomains. For example, if you add ‘domain.com’ then ‘help.domain.com’ will also be included.

Create Awareness or Consideration campaigns

Run an awareness or consideration campaign that drives traffic to your website. You will need to rely on your internal reporting tools to track whether a conversion happened. The best way to do that is using UTM parameters. These short text codes are added to the end of links to track performance. This will give you a fuller picture of your advertising campaign’s success.

Is this the end of Facebook ads?

Short answer: no. The marketing landscape is constantly evolving and this latest change is just part of that evolution. Facebook is developing new ad tracking and data tools that align with Apple’s new focus on privacy. It’s important to note that opting out of tracking doesn’t mean a user won’t be served ads; it just means the ads they do see won’t be personalized to their known activity and interests and maybe irrelevant.

The true impact of Apple’s decision remains to be seen but don’t wait to make these changes. As digital marketers, we need to be flexible to adjust to a changing landscape. With a tailored strategy, Facebook ads can still provide value to home builders. If you need help with your social media marketing strategy, give us a call.