Part 1: Apple's IOS 14 Update & FB Ads

The hot topic going on right now in 2021 is the long-awaited and most-anticipated privacy update from Apple and as marketers or people who leverage FB ads to generate sales for our businesses, We are worried. It is ok to be worried and we have read or heard certain ways on how this will affect us. On my own part, i have spoken to some insiders as well as colleagues in the business and i will share the findings here in a 2 part blog post. For part 1, Let us try to understand what is really going on and how will it affect us. In part 2, I will share how you can prepare yourself for the changes.

First of all, I would like to clarify that at the time of writing this post we are not sure if the update has kicked in or not. In fact, Apple did not give a specific date for this but we know it might come in within the first quarter of 2021. As entrepreneurs, should you panic? No! you should not. Apple and Facebook are fighting again but this time over ads and privacy. Sometime next month, it is expected that Apple will roll out its iOS 14 updates with a privacy change. Apple will explicitly ask its users if they wanted to be tracked by a specific app. A simple question, with a potentially serious consequence. Facebook warns that these privacy changes can lead to a more than 50% drop in its Audience Network advertising business.

What is IDFA?

To understand what is really going on, You need to know what IDFA is and how it helps you and your pixels. Apple assigns IDFA or Identifier for Advertisers to an iPhone across apps. This tracking mechanism is basically their cookie and advertising platforms rely on the data to target ads. App and gaming companies rely heavily on such data that show ads via Facebook’s ad platform, Audience Network. This identifier was always present by default for iOS users that means that we can or have been tracking activities of our customers via pixels through the help of Facebook but Apple’s new privacy change means that users cannot be tracked by default anymore. Many advertising industry insiders believe users will refuse data tracking permissions if given a choice. This means no data for ad targeting which eventually will make ad placement a task. This is also bad for Facebook, In fact, the company has been in a panic I would say as this will slash almost 50% of the audience network revenues according to CNBC NEWS Fewer ads on Facebook’s Audience Network will lead to less revenue for publishers. With the iOS 14 update, Facebook will need to ask permission to track its app users across external websites and apps. Facebook needs this tracking to allow its advertisers to use this data to run relevant, personalized ads to its users.

Campaigns that deliver desired outcomes are key for advertisers and results influence the use of specific advertising platforms. As you can imagine, this is a big issue for Facebook. Facebook Audience Network is one of the ad placement options for Facebook. This placement depends on ad placement within the app. The app owners monetize this placement. The data from IDFA works with Facebook’s SDK, a tracking mechanism.

What is Facebook Doing About This?

Facebook has alerted advertisers of reduced targeting and campaign measurement ability as well as publishers especially working with Facebook’s Audience Network of the fall in revenue by 50% and warned that the impact could be more. More detail >> HERE

Facebook has outlined the steps to be taken to ensure that its advertising business is in line with Apple’s requirements. However, this will limit the scope of targeting ads effectively to iPhone and iPad users.

  • Facebook will not collect IDFA by making a change to its own apps on iOS14. They will spare them from having to ask for data-tracking permissions from the users.

  • Facebook asks businesses to create a new ad account dedicated to running app install ad campaigns for iOS 14 users. The current account that targets previous iOS versions along with Android users is to be maintained.

  • An updated version of the Facebook SDK will be released to support iOS 14 which will limit the data available to businesses for running and measuring campaigns. This update will be rolled out before Apple releases the iOS14 update.

How Will This do Change Affect Online Marketers?

Honestly speaking, There are still a lot of unknowns so some of this is speculation on how things will work. Remember that this is a large-scale change to both small and big businesses so the full scope of the whole effect is unknown. Based on the information we have, Here are the changes we know.

Now, I would like you to keep in mind that this change is ONLY for people using iOS devices when they update to iOS 14. Data tracking will still work on Android and Desktop and for people who DON’T opt-out, although Facebook is making some sweeping changes that I will discuss. Also, this is not just on the Facebook platform, , ALL advertisers are going to be affected– Pinterest, LinkedIn, Snap Chat, Tik Tok, YouTube, and Google. Big stuff huh?

What Are The Notable Effects?

  • Tracking Pixel Actions from Facebook ads. Any tracking such as Leads, Add to Cart, Purchases, custom conversions, etc. with the Pixel will now be under-reported due to people opting out of tracking.

  • Optimizing your Ads for these actions. Because the pixel isn’t learning as well, the ads possibly won’t be optimized as well to people who are taking the actions.

  • Retargeting ads. When you create a Retargeting audience, anyone who visited your website from an iOS 14 device won’t see your retargeted ad (still some fuzzy issues on this).

  • Building Audiences. Because we won’t have data on who visited your site from iOS devices, they will not go into a Retargeting or Lookalike audience. But there may be Engagement audiences that they will be in (again, still fuzzy on some of this).

  • App Installs. Facebook won’t be able to optimize around App Installs or other App related conversions for iOS devices if you have an App you are advertising.

You still will be able to get leads and sales and actions from iOS 14 devices, you just won’t be able to TRACK or optimize as well for those actions.

Some of the Ad Objectives that will be affected

  • Traffic Ads that are optimized around Landing Page Views (use the Pixel). If you are optimizing around Link Clicks, your ads will not be affected.

  • Conversion Ads that are optimized around Standard Events or Custom Conversions

  • App Installs when targeting iOS

  • Catalog sales when they go to your website (Facebook Shops and Instagram Shopping that stay on the platform will still track)

This means that If you are tracking any Pixel activity with the other objectives, then that will also be affected - That includes message ads! Another effect or change on us will be campaign optimization. If you are running conversion ads, traffic, or ad installs you will have problems when it comes to audience and campaign optimization because of this limitation. We aren’t going to be able to retarget or build lookalike audiences from events and the optimization of our campaigns will suffer. How far this effect will go remains to be seen!

Now about the effect on pixels, Another issue is that Facebook is now scaling back the tracking events to a maximum of 8 events per domain (standard events such as Purchase as well as Custom Conversions!!) - I DONT LIKE IT!

The conversion window will also suffer and all your current ads on it! There will be no tracking of longer conversion windows any more. So if you have a longer sales cycle, you will see your reported purchases go down.

Facebook will only be tracking these conversion windows:

  • 1-day click

  • 7-day click (default)

  • 1-day click and 1-day view

  • 7-day click and 1-day view

I advise you to change your ad account attribution window as soon as possible! Although, This issue is actually Apple independent since it will be for all of their ads. If you are focused on a shorter sales cycle and tracking window so this may not be as big a problem for you but you can use Google UTM links or other methods to back up your tracking. I would like to add that message ads or message conversion ads will be safe in this matter!

In the end, Everyone running ads especially on Facebook will be limited to the following:

  • Deliver ads to the most relevant audiences

  • Deliver ads to people based on engagement events

  • Measure and report certain conversion events

  • Optimize costs over time and efficiently allocate campaign budgets

Now, many of us would be panicking now that this is the end of eCommerce, dropshipping, or online marketing. I do not see it that way. In fact, this is a new challenge and as entrepreneurs, it is your job to adapt to the changes and sail through. From what I know we see this kicking in a few months so I believe we have time to prepare for this and how to adjust.

That will be the topic for part 2 of this! How can you prepare and what necessary change do you need to make to protect your business and campaigns when the IOS 14 update kicks in!

Got any questions about this? Leave them in the comments

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