Apple is known for regularly updating their iOS operating system. The most recent version is iOS 14.4, an update for which is available now. As consumers update their phones to this new system, they will be laying the groundwork for greater options for protecting their privacy.
This most recent update is the precursor to one expected to be released to consumers sometime between March and May this year. With the coming system update, Apple will include a number of new privacy features that could have a major impact on advertisers’ ability to track and target iPhone users with personalized advertising on Facebook and other major apps.
When released, this update will prompt iPhone users to opt in or out of tracking before opening apps like Facebook. Unless users choose to opt in to tracking, ad personalization and performance reporting capabilities will be limited for advertisers.This is part of Apple’s new App Tracking Transparency Framework, which is designed to make users more aware of the data they share with apps.
It is unknown exactly how users will respond to being given this choice in such an upfront manner. So it becomes imperative that advertisers prepare for a situation in which a large number of iPhone users opt out of sharing the crucial data advertising platforms, like Facebook Ads, rely on.
Understanding the Impact of the iOS 14 Update on Facebook Ads
The loss of tracking data from iPhone users will affect a number of measurements advertisers on Facebook would otherwise have at their fingertips to assess the performance of their campaigns.
In particular, Ads Manager, Ads Reporting, and the Ads Insights API will experience significant changes. The expected changes include:
- Loss of support for 28-day attribution, with historical data only available via the API
- Loss of 7-day view-through attribution, although 7-day click attribution will still be present
- Advertisers can continue targeting geographic and demographic segments, but will not be able to view a reporting breakdown based on these factors
How Facebook is Responding to These Changes
In an effort to minimize the impact of data loss for advertisers, Facebook is responding with its own changes. Specifically, Facebook is creating a framework called “Aggregated Event Measurement” to help advertisers measure campaign performance while respecting consumers’ decisions to opt out of tracking.
Within the framework of Aggregated Event Measurement, advertisers will only be able to track 8 conversion events per domain. The domain owner can use the Events Manager to configure which 8 events they want tracked, whether they are custom conversions or pixel-based events like Add to Cart, Purchase, Lead, or Complete Registration. These events will be ranked on the basis of priority during the reporting process. In other words, if Add to Cart and Purchase are 2 of your 8 chosen events, Purchase will be given higher priority.
In addition to scaling back event tracking, Facebook pixels must now be connected to a verified domain rather than an ad account. This is of particular importance for advertisers who want to measure events on a domain they own. Of course, it will not result in any changes for brands driving traffic to a third party.
Real-time data will no longer be available in this new framework. Instead, it could take 72 hours for data to appear. Current conversion events are reported based on the time they occur. The new update will change this with conversion events being reported based on the time they are reported to Facebook via the SKAdNetwork API.
Results will be aggregated at the campaign level when reported to Facebook. Unless a campaign has only a single ad set or ad, statistical modeling may be used to show results at the ad set and ad levels.
Regarding web conversions events, conversions will be reported based on the time they occur as opposed to the time of the associated ad impression. Facebook may use statistical modeling to account for conversions from those users using the iOS 14 update.
In addition, there will be a big shift in conversion reporting, specifically in the Ads Manager, due to changes in the attribution window. Finally, as users who opt out of tracking will be pulled from lookalike audiences, these audiences may need to be rebuilt.
How Advertisers Should Prepare for Changes to Facebook Ads
To mitigate the loss of data and prepare for the transition to this new framework, advertisers should immediately take the steps listed below:
- Have your domain verified ASAP. Domain verification will help prevent any disruption in your ability to configure conversion events, especially if you have pixels used by multiple accounts. Three different methods can be used to implement domain verification. Facebook has outlined the process here and here.
- Plan for 8 conversion events per domain. If you’ve been using more than 8 conversion events per domain, now’s the time to assess your priorities and plan to operate within the 8 conversion limit.
- Analyze events from iOS devices. Using the Breakdown Reports, take a look at how many purchases, leads, and other events you’ve been receiving from iOS devices to better understand how your reporting could be impacted.
- Start acquiring email addresses. Adjust your ad efforts to focus on getting email addresses so you can reduce your reliance on pixel optimization for retargeting.
- Download data before it disappears. Download historic data for both the 28-day and 7-day windows as well as 28-day clickthrough. Compare this data to gain additional information about how your reported conversions could change with the shift to a shorter window.
While these changes to Facebook Ads are sure to be disruptive to some extent, disruption is a constant in the digital landscape. Changes in technology, and changes in how consumers respond to new innovations, are inevitable. The better we learn to prepare for and adapt to these ebbs and flows, the more successful we will be in the long run.
At Qiigo, we understand that these changes will be of concern to our clients. Our Brand Directors will be reaching out to their Brand contacts to discuss steps that should be taken in advance of this new feature. If you are a Qiigo franchisee with questions or concerns about the potential effect on your campaigns, please contact your Account Manager.