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Apple’s iOS 14 Update & Facebook Advertising: What You Need to Know


On June 22nd, 2020, the digital landscape went through a major shift. Apple—one of the world’s largest technology companies—announced three new policies it would be implementing with their new iOS 14 update. These policies are the most recent example of a rapidly evolving digital ads ecosystem, one that is making room for increased data privacy on the part of the user.

The problem? This decision was made unilaterally and without consultation, and Apple will begin enforcing these policies in the coming months for all phones operating on iOS 14. These changes will be huge and pronounced, toppling the systems that platforms like Facebook have so far operated under.

In the scramble to maintain advertising ability for the millions of businesses using the platform, Facebook has created a new tool that will soon go live, as well as implementing various other changes. But what do all these major shifts mean for the businesses caught in the crossfire?

In the face of a global pandemic, where businesses are relying on digital and social media advertising more than ever before, what can you as a business owner do to stay ahead? The effects are three-fold and are crucial to understand. Let’s dive in.

How Facebook’s Systems Are Changing

Apple’s iOS 14 change will introduce two policies relevant to social advertising: the Tracking Transparency Prompt and the Tracking via App/Browser APIs Limitation. These perform in conjunction, allowing users to opt in or out of being tracked on social media, and restricting Facebook’s ability to collect data should a user opt in.

Long Story Short…

Businesses will now have to operate on a severely restricted data diet. To help with this, Facebook is implementing Aggregated Event Measurement, a new tool designed to make the best of Apple’s unilateral changes. Rather than pinpointing users, it uses general tracking to judge the performance of ads.

Here’s how Aggregated Event Measurement will work for businesses:

If users opt in to tracking, Facebook can track up to eight standard events for said user as they visit a business’ website (i.e. Page View, Purchase, Add to Cart etc.). iOS 14 has put custom events out of the running altogether, so advertisers must select from Facebook’s preset list.

If users opt out of tracking, Facebook can only receive a single event from them in a given domain, based on a hierarchical list decided by the advertiser. If the user doesn’t complete the top event on an advertiser’s priority list, they’ll receive data on the next-highest event the user completes. Therefore, prioritising your conversion event list is now a must-do.

The Impact on Your Business

The Impact on Your Business

Regardless of whether their users opt in or out, businesses should expect significant changes in their performance due to the attribution window changes. An attribution window is the length of time during which an action is attributed to a user seeing or clicking on a Facebook ad.

When you create a Facebook ad and choose an attribution window, Facebook serves the ads to users likely to convert from a click or view in the chosen length of time. Whereas the default attribution window used to be 28-day click, it is now partial reporting on 7-day click-through default and 1-day view-through windows (thanks to the anticipated opt-outs).

Thanks to the restricted data diet resulting from users opting out, Facebook may also not be able to target people likely to convert in that timeframe as well as before. This means, their ability to serve ads to the right people is diminished, thus impacting on the advertiser’s results and reporting. This is further compounded by the shortened attribution window and limited tracking of events.

Changes in Measurement

We’ll also be seeing significant changes in measurements and metrics thanks to these attribution shifts:

  • There will be no 28-day attribution window, and limited view-through window options. Businesses will see fewer reported conversions. It’s worth noting that the conversions will still happen, but we won’t have full visibility into their nuances.
  • No conversion event breakdowns available. These breakdowns give advertisers insights into their performance driving demographics, but with the limited data diet, these granularities will no longer be available.

Important Steps to Take from Here

Verify Your Domain

Verifying your domain is an important step to take, especially if your account has multiple pixels. For a more in-depth look at this, head to our blog on domain verification.

Prioritise Your Pixel Events

Next on the list is prioritising your Pixel events. Now that data tracking has gone lean, green, and mean, advertisers must create a hierarchy of important events to use if their customers opt-out of comprehensive tracking.

These events are specific to your ad goals, so be sure you correlate your top chosen events for the objective of your ads (e.g., Conversions Campaigns and Purchases). Remember, if users opt out, you will only receive data from a one action they perform.

If the first event on your list is not completed, Facebook will steadily move down the list until they find one that is. Therefore, it’s crucial that your events are organised in terms of measurement importance. If this is not done manually, Facebook will simply guess your hierarchy based on previous events. While this could work for some companies with a lot of data, it’s better to assume Facebook’s fallibility and jump in their yourself.

Anticipate and Prepare for Changes to Strategies

The work is ongoing, and neither Facebook nor Apple have all the answers about how this transition is going to go. However, it is clear that there will be some major shifts in the coming months, and businesses need to prepare appropriately.

Gear yourself up for drops in performance. This is as a result of the attribution changes and limited data diet (in fact, you might already be observing these performance drops now). Test new strategies that utilise the renewed digital landscape to find the best tools for your business.

Talk to our social media advertising team today.

If you’re unsure about how to proceed, there are always experts to help. Talk to the Pure SEO team about engaging our Facebook marketing to weather this transition for you.

Courtney-Dale Nel

Courtney is a Content Writer on the Pure SEO team. They have a Bachelor in Behavioural Psychology, way too much experience working with pigeons, and a fondness for nachos that rivals most marriages.

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