It’s official. It’s happening. And it will affect how we use Facebook ads.
Apple’s three new app policies are expected to take full effect soon. Well, nothing to be surprised about here. The digital ads ecosystem is very dynamic and keeps changing. Whether it’s new government regulations or tech company policies, changes have occurred in the past, and will most likely happen again in the future.
But for now, let’s discuss the current changes that are going to occur due to the iOS 14.5 update. Apple announced that most likely from March 2021, it will provide users with an opt-in prompt on each app which will allow them to choose whether they consent to third-party sites like Facebook to track their user data.
In this article, we are going to discuss how Apple’s new policies will affect Facebook advertisers. And if you scroll all the way to the end, you will also find several expert strategies to ensure that you survive this latest update.
Here are some changes you should expect soon:
1. Changes in App Advertising
In May 2018, Apple introduced a concept called the ‘SKAdNetwork’ API. One of the main reasons behind coming up with this concept was to increase the privacy of users who installed mobile apps.
Well, now that it’s 2021, and the SKAdNetwork API is no longer just a concept. It’s a reality that will affect the way you use Facebook Ads.
Going forward, the SKAdNetwork API will be used by Facebook for app advertising on all iOS 14 devices, and this will either restrict, aggregate, or delay all app event data.
For example, when it comes to campaign management, event data will be restricted to a maximum of nine campaigns and five ad sets per campaign for every Facebook Ads account.
Furthermore, lift measurement will be unavailable for iOS 14 App Install and App Events campaigns.
And last but not least, reporting of events will be delayed for up to three days after an app is installed.
2. Changes in Mobile Web Advertising
The SKAdNetwork API is not the only new creation of Apple that will affect advertisers. Apple has also created the PCM (Private Click Measurement) protocol for web attribution. This protocol will strongly contribute to restricting data that businesses and platforms can access.
Let’s understand PCM with an example.
Suppose an iOS 14 user is served an ad on Instagram and is taken to a web browser to complete a purchase. Now, because of PCM, this event would be lost and not properly attributed.
Tracking users in a different geographical location will also be a challenge. For example, if a user in Spain is served an ad for a US-based company, but is then redirected to the local version of the website based on their location, the purchase would not be properly tracked.
Rest assured, Facebook will release the Aggregated Event Management tool to counter this problem. This tool will help in proper attribution of sales if an event similar to the ones mentioned above occurs.
3. Optimization and Targeting
With iOS 14.5, there will be an eight-pixel event cap per domain for optimization. This means that an advertiser will only be able to use a maximum of eight conversion events per domain for optimization.
So, if you’re an advertiser, you will need to prioritize the eight events that are of most importance to you. One thing to note here is that the eight-event cap is only capping the number of events you can optimize towards. However, you may still track more events for reporting and audience creation.
In short, the new iOS update may hinder optimization, especially if there are not enough data points. This is probably not very good news for small-scale advertisers who do not have many data points as compared to the big players. Also, as more and more people update their operating system to iOS 14.5, the size of retargeting audiences will also shrink over time.
The new default attribution window will make measurement a bit complicated as it will contribute to under-reporting on organic as well as paid channels. You should also expect an increase in dark social traffic. (If you cannot recall what ‘dark social’ is, it’s when people privately share content on social media which makes it harder to track. Dark traffic has always been there, but the new iOS update might contribute to its increment.)
When it comes to ad reporting data, there will be a three-day delay on data display for the data that comes from iOS 14.5 users. This is because of Apple’s PCM (Private Click Measurement) protocol. As explained above, PCM can restrict and delay data access.
Limited data could make running ads a little inconvenient to advertisers. For example, clients will only be able to see a few reported conversions, and sadly, the conversion event breakdowns would not even exist.
5. Business Manager Tool Setup
This section is short and simple, yet very important. The Facebook Business Manager interface will have a change in design. This needs to be done because Facebook cannot have a separate interface for Android and iOS.
It’s likely not going to be rocket science and advertisers will get used to the new changes in the Facebook Business Manager interface easily. For instance, things might move from Ads Manager settings to campaign level, or maybe, from Ads Manager to Event Manager.
How to Prepare for the iOS 14.5 Update in a Proactive Way
Actions to take now
Action 1: Verify your domains with Facebook
When you verify your domains with Facebook, this means that you’re officially set up on the platform.
There are several ways of verifying domains with Facebook. You could add a DNS TXT entry to your DNS record and confirm that you are the owner of a particular domain. You could also upload a Facebook-provided HTML file to your web directory to do this.
Adding a meta tag to the <head> section of your domain home page is also an easy way to verify domains.
Action 2: Decide which eight events for conversions you’ll track
Because of the new limit, you will have to choose the eight events you want to use to track conversions, then rank them in the Events Manager. Remember, just like domain verification, this needs to be done by the pixel owner, not the partner.
Check out Facebook’s official overview of “events” and this guide on how to decide which events to track.
Action 3: Compare the relationship between 28-day to 7-day attribution
You should calculate the impact that the attribution window change will have on your business before Facebook removes 28-day attribution. Since the reporting will change to 7-day post click and 1-day post view, you will need to keep an account of the sales that occur from days 8 to 28.
Here are some more detailed instructions on adding comparing windows to show view and click attribution.
You should proactively evaluate the impact of targeting and optimization changes on your campaigns. Also, make sure that the Auto-Advanced Matching is turned on in Events Manager.
Finally, to understand the true impact of Facebook and Instagram ads on your sales funnel, you should install a post-purchase attribution survey tool, like Prove It Post-Purchase Surveys. This will help you collect data and feedback from customers voluntarily—without relying on cookies.
Actions to take later
Action 1: Focus on strategic alliances with innovative data products
You should use products like ‘clean rooms’, which provide advertisers with privacy and safe access to data with events tied to various user IDs for ID management. Some examples of these products include, but are not limited to, Google Ads Data Hub, Facebook Advanced Analytics, Adobe Experience Platform, and Amazon Marketing Cloud.
Action 2: Find alternatives to cookie tracking
If you’re a marketing partner, you can still facilitate retargeting by using any number of user-specific identifiers to target individuals, such as email addresses, phone numbers, etc.
In order to increase the volume of persistent IDs, you should encourage site login through improved authenticated experiences or by offering incentives to consumers for logging in.
Action 3: Develop “value exchange” strategies
As explained briefly in the previous point, you could offer incentives to customers for sharing their data through “value exchange” strategies. This is a great way to increase a brand’s first-party data.
An Accenture survey from 2019 found that 71% of the 8,000 surveyees believed that the brand had communicated in a way that was too personal. However, a whopping 93% said that it’s important that every interaction they have with the brand should be excellent.
To offer excellent experiences, brands need to dig deep into their consumers’ psyche—and a lot of data is required to truly understand your customers. So, use value exchange strategies to collect data and use it to your advantage.
To survive the new changes, you should make data governance a top priority.
In order to do this, you must ensure that the data collected and stored has proper user consent, and can be appropriately leveraged for media execution purposes.
You should also implement Conversions API to ensure that the events are passed back to Facebook directly from the server—not just from the pixel.
If you use Shopify, you should set up the Facebook Sales Channel App. It is very easy to set up. Simply connect your Facebook account and watch all your products sync automatically. This will make it convenient for you to promote them on Facebook or Instagram.
What Industry Experts Have to Say
Effect on the promotion of movies via FB Ads
“This will have the biggest negative impact on one particular type of movie release, that being the cinema release. A conversion for a movie ticket is in most cases a cross-device conversion as an effect of the complex value chain of the movie industry. This, combined with the ticket being accessible to purchase in a limited timeframe will ultimately result in fewer conversions for theatrical releases whilst continuing on a trend the industry has seen in the last couple of years; more and more movies will be watched online.”
– Nikolaj Mathies, CEO at Gruvi US
Effect on the promotion of SaaS via FB Ads
“Facebook ads is one of the best channels to drive new customers for SaaS companies and the iOS14.5 update isn’t going to change that. What will change however is the ease at which you can expect to report back on the direct impact of your ads. Continue to focus on your fundamentals like improving your creatives, messaging, and overall marketing funnel. Accept that you’ll have a little less precision with your in-platform reporting and make sure you’re always using UTM tagging so that you can still track everything easily in Google Analytics.”
– Dylan Hey, CEO at Hey Digital
Effect on the promotion of real estate via FB Ads
“The changes push the real estate industry to adapt and find new strategies once again. It will be difficult to rely less on the Facebook Pixel for retargeting and ad measurement but there will still be many ways to use the platform efficiently.”
– Zachary Dulla, CEO at Indoor Drone Tours
Effect on the promotion of e-commerce products via FB Ads
“Since the CTA is rather cold of the prompt Apple is sending to IOS14 devices, we’re expecting a rather high opt-out ratio. In conclusion, side-server tracking will become the most important third source for facebook to gather their aggregated data events. Social media channels, such as Facebook, will therefore need to work towards eROAS, which are an estimated ROAS, instead of actual data proven ROAS. Facebook Ads will temporarily have lower ROAS for eCommerce until their algorithm is up to speed with eROAS.”
– Ricardo Ghekiere, Head of Paid Social at Upthrust
Take Stock of how iOS 14.5 affects your brand and be proactive
Ultimately, the iOS 14.5 updates are going to change a lot about how you track the performance of your Facebook ads—but not all is lost. Brands who adapt to different ways of collecting feedback—and stop relying on cookies to tell them everything—will be ahead of the curve.
How are you adapting to the affects of iOS 14.5? Let us know in the comments!
Madis Birk is an independent Facebook Ads Consultant. A lean, mean, growth-focused Facebook advertising plug-in to your existing A-team. A digital marketing expert integrable into your winning strategy. If you want to get in touch with Madis, you can find him by going to www.madisbirk.com.