Advertiser FAQs on iOS14’s impact on Facebook Ads

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Among many offerings of Apple’s latest iOS 14 update, one contentious feature is the AppTrackingTransparency (ATT) framework, which aims to provide more privacy to users. Apple’s iOS marks user data with an Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) system, and ATT will allow users the choice to withhold their IDFA from advertisers, preventing data tracking through apps. ATT also prevents advertisers from combining advertising data across apps.

Needless to say, this will heavily impact the movement of major advertisers and social media marketing as we know it. Facebook has continuously spoken against the move since it was first announced in early 2020, saying that this will drop developers’ ad revenue by up to 40 percent. Apple has stressed that advertising without first-party information is possible, an example being grouping users by similar characteristics without disclosing identities. Now, Facebook is prepping to roll out new advertising systems to address changes that ATT will bring in.

The OS update became available to users in September last year, but the ATT framework will be rolled out early this 2021 to give advertisers time to strategize. Now, advertisers and digital marketing agencies will have to innovate in running campaigns. With the short time left before the digital marketing landscape undergoes a major shift yet again, we look at the primary questions we need to ask about the ATT’s impact on the bread-and-butter platform of most digital marketing agencies in the Philippines: Facebook ads.

What user data will advertisers lose with iOS 14?

With ATT, iOS 14 users will be prompted in the App Store to opt out of data tracking from apps. Apple considers tracking data as, but not limited to, the following: device locations, email lists, advertising IDs, third-party advertising IDs, SDKs and displaying targeted ads. ATT also prevents advertisers from combining data between apps for the purpose of consumer profiling. This will directly impact the efficacy and optimization of tailored ads and campaigns.

In a statement, Facebook has said that it is developing an Aggregated Event Measurement system for OS users, preserving user privacy per ATT’s standards while also providing developers enough data to run effective campaigns.

How will this affect advertiser Facebook campaigns?

In the event of retargeting an audience or creating lookalike audiences, iOS 14 devices or users might not be included anymore. Advertisers’ Pixels (which is a site’s single unique code connected to each Facebook ads account) will also be limited to eight conversion events at a time, which will prove tracking difficult for businesses with multiple custom conversion steps and products.

Apple will also not allow incentivizing users with gated content to allow tracking permissions. Per Apple’s App Store Review Guidelines: 5.1.1 (iv), Advertisers may, however, explain why they need users’ permission, but they must also be transparent on how the data will be used. Advertisers must also honor a user’s permission settings, and no attempt of manipulation, trickery, or force is allowed to obtain consent of unnecessary user data submission.

Which KPIs might be impacted?

KPIs based around events happening outside of Facebook will suffer. For example: traffic centered around landing page views, conversions via iOS app installs and catalog sales outside of Facebook will not be accurately tracked anymore. However, events within Facebook such as link clicks will not be affected.

Another Facebook change to note is the loss of longer conversion window tracking. Soon, Facebook will only be tracking the following: 

  • 1-day click
  • 7-day click (default)
  • 1-day click and 1-day view
  • 7-day click and 1-day view

How do we prepare for the new changes?

There is still much we can’t determine for certain before ATT and Facebook’s changes are fully implemented, but here are some steps advertisers can take as early as now.

  1. Determine how much of your market is on iOS: This is so you can plan ahead on how much of your data will be compromised. You can also start switching your strategy to be more lead generation-heavy so you can rely less on Pixel for data.
  2. Verify your domain: Facebook recommends domain verification to prevent domain disruption. This will also enable advertisers to maximize the Aggregated Event Measurement feature once it becomes available
  3. Narrow down your events: Since only eight conversion events at a time can be done, set your priorities on what your top priorities are for tracking.
  4. Update to Facebook’s SDK for iOS 14 version 8.1: Facebook says that their iOS 14 version 8.1 SDK supports Apple’s SKAdNetwork API. This will enable measurement of app install ads.

The new shift is sure to significantly impact iOS data measurement and interpretation as we know it. But the only constant in the digital marketing space has always been changing, and innovating to adapt is something digital players are no stranger to. With smart planning beforehand, advertisers can stay ahead of the curve to craft defensive strategies and continue bringing relevant marketing materials to consumers.