Impacts of iOS 14 on Facebook advertisers

This article covers the impacts the new iOS 14 update will have on Faraday clients that advertise on Facebook

In light of growing concerns around consumer privacy in big tech, Apple is releasing an iOS 14 update in the spring that will come with some significant changes to permissions for tracking Apple users across websites, devices, and apps. Specifically, iOS 14 users will have to opt in to allow apps like Facebook to track them across websites and apps owned by Facebook advertisers.

It should be noted that Facebook is not expecting a large percentage of its users to opt into this kind of tracking. Accounts that advertise their mobile apps will definitely be affected, as well as any that use web conversion events from a Facebook pixel.

How to prepare for the iOS 14 update

To prepare for these changes, we’d recommend Facebook advertisers do the following two things:

  1. Verify your website’s domain with Facebook. This will help you avoid any interruption in conversion tracking.

  2. Work with your team to prioritize the conversion events most important to your business. Once a domain has been verified, Facebook will limit the domain to eight conversion events, which Facebook will continue to track. Ad sets optimized for an event that is not one of the eight active conversion events will be turned off. Facebook Events Manager will allow you to order your conversion events in order of importance.

If an iOS 14 user were to opt-out of tracking, and then go on to complete a conversion, only the highest-ranking conversion that occurs after that click will be counted. So, if the user triggered a page view, add-to-cart, and purchase event, only a purchase event would be recorded, as it’s the highest-ranking event.

This means that if a user does not make it through one of your eight conversion events after one click, then nothing will be reported. This also means tracking something like an abandoned cart may not be possible, or at the very least will be more difficult. For this reason, Facebook is recommending that conversion events be set up to catch multiple conversions along your sales funnel.

Consequences for Facebook campaigns and audiences

All accounts will be affected in the following ways as users opt-out of tracking and ad sets are given less data to optimize delivery and performance:

  • With less data, ad sets will likely have a harder time performing efficiently.

  • Ad sets may take longer to exit the learning phase, due to having fewer events to optimize with.

  • Retargeting campaigns may be less effective with fewer people to target and less data to optimize delivery of the ad sets.

  • Lookalike generation may be less effective, as there will be fewer people to use as a seed audience (as well as less data on what makes the seed audience unique).

  • Custom audiences based on app data or Facebook pixel conversion data will be smaller. Note: It is not clear at this time whether or not someone who opts out of tracking will still be targetable using a custom audience.

Consequences for Facebook reporting

As for reporting, there will be repercussions here as well, most of which have to do with the immediacy and accuracy of reporting:

  • Reporting for conversions will be less accurate and may include a statistical component to account for how iOS 14 users might have converted (which will be noted if used).

  • Reporting for some conversion events will no longer be in real-time and may be delayed for up to three days due to new restrictions.

  • Breakdowns of ad sets by demographic, location, and ad placement will no longer be available to marketers, limiting the insights they have into delivery and performance.

  • Attribution windows will now be limited to seven-day click, one-day view windows. Marketers who rely on conversion reporting for products with longer sales cycles will see fewer conversions as Facebook can no longer count conversions as far as 28 days out.

  • As discussed above, Facebook will now limit marketers to tracking just eight conversion events for each pixel.

Possible upsides for Faraday clients

  • While Facebook can’t track a conversion after 7 days, Faraday is able to match back individuals from deliveries to the client’s own data and match back conversions for any attribution window.

  • As technology moves in the direction of privacy over data collection, Faraday will still have the resources to look at offline data and what makes a client’s particular users unique. Not being reliant on online data makes it so that Faraday is well equipped to serve its customers as privacy becomes increasingly important. Facebook does have its own Conversions API which is essentially a way to push offline conversions into Facebook so that they can be attributed to any Facebook ads that ran.

  • Faraday can’t provide geographic/demographic data based on how audiences performed on Facebook, but we can provide geographic/demographic breakdowns for the positive exits of any delivery that ran on Facebook. If a client has enough data about the channel which a positive exit came through, we can get even more granular with geographic/demographic breakdowns for just positive exits that came through “Paid social” or “Facebook” channels

  • It’s possible that Faraday can set up a customer journey for online events so long as we are provided with data that we can match. While Facebook won’t be able to track iOS 14 users through various conversion events, Faraday could potentially follow someone who came in as a lead/subscriber and went on to order, for instance.

  • Facebook Lookalikes and custom audiences may begin to perform worse as they have fewer people to track and less data for statistical modeling (can’t retarget website visitors if you can’t track them). Faraday deliveries as custom audiences are not the black box that Facebook Lookalikes are. We know exactly who is in the delivery as well as the important features the model picks up, whereas, with Lookalikes, we know none of this.

A possible downside for Faraday clients

  • We don’t yet know if we can advertise to someone in a custom audience if they have opted out of tracking. There is no word from Facebook on this so it is a big question mark for the time being.