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April 19, 2021 - Scale

The impact of iOS 14 update on Facebook ads

Privacy and data usage take center stage in the latest Apple iOS update. From now on, users have the option to either ‘Allow Tracking’ or to ‘Ask app not to track’ across apps and websites. Only when the Facebook (and Instagram) app have received permission from the user, they will be able to access the device’s advertising identifier and track them. So, the user’s decision definitely has consequences for your campaigns in Facebook Business Manager …

Blog - iOS update - KV

Facebook is slowly but surely rolling out the App Tracking Transparency of iOS 14 update. So, don’t worry if you haven’t received the pop-up yet!


What does the iOS 14 update mean for your Facebook advertising?

The iOS 14 update has an impact on several domains of your Facebook advertising. Let’s gather the facts!

Facebook Audience Network

Up until now, the tracking cookie was on by default for iOS users, but now users can’t be tracked by default anymore. And that means less data for ad targeting. Facebook says that they will continue to serve ads, however the ability to deliver personalised ads on iOS 14 will be limited.

Their ability to accurately target and measure campaigns on Audience Network will be so impacted that it wouldn’t make sense to show ads there anymore. This should result in lower CPMs (Cost Per Mille or 1,000 impressions) on the Audience Network, but you will have more clutter since targeting will be less accurate.

Facebook App Install campaigns for iOS

The main objective of such Facebook campaigns is to drive app installs. When we get less data from iOS users, it obviously becomes more difficult to run those Facebook campaigns for iOS users. Targeting and retargeting will be limited.

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Facebook audience building

When users choose not to be tracked anymore, this will have an impact on your collected remarketing audiences, which then will have an impact on lookalike audiences. Even the standard Facebook interest audiences will suffer under it, since there will be less data available to base the audiences on

Facebook conversion events 

Advertisers are now limited to 8 conversion events per domain. That includes pixel events and custom conversions. Optimised ad sets for an event or conversion that is not within these 8 ‘chosen ones’, will be paused. 

Let's say you have conversions placed on some page views and some user actions. In this case, when someone visits your website (page view - conversion 1), visits a product page, adds something to the cart (add to cart, conversion 2), makes a purchase (purchase - conversion 3), you're good.

Facebook delivery & optimisation

If Facebook is tracking fewer events, it will be more difficult to optimise your ad sets and ad sets could have a harder time leaving the learning phase.

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Facebook reporting

There will be a significant delay in reporting. So, don’t panic when you don’t see any results coming in right after you launched your Facebook ad. From now on, it would take one to three days between someone taking action and you seeing that data. That means you’ll have to change your approach from short-term (1 day) to long-term (1 week). 

What’s more? When you compare today’s data with data from before the iOS 14 update, it will look like your results got worse. That’s because the Attribution Window is changing from 28-day to 7-day click: that means that leads, conversions and events will only be tracked and registered for 7 instead of 28 days after (an interaction with) your Facebook ad. Fortunately, you can analyze the additional conversions in Google Analytics, Shopify ... too.

5 hands-on tips to help you out

We can imagine you’re at a loss what to do now. That’s why we sat together with our online marketing team and collected five hands-on tips that can help you out. 

  1. Check the iOS share of your audiences: When setting up your ad set, you can figure out the share of iOS users. How? Go to your Google Analytics to see how big the iOS share of your users is. Or use the targeting estimates at the ad set level, filter on iOS devices and see how many people are iOS users within your targeted group. How hard will it impact your business? According to different sources, the share of Apple devices (iPad and iPhone) in Belgium range between 34% and 38%. 
  2. Get your domain verified: In order to get a hold of your 8 configured events, you should get your domain verified in your Facebook Business Manager. To do this, surf to business.facebook.com. You can find ‘Domains’ under the ‘Brand safety’ tab. There, you can add a new domain. You will then get instructions on how to verify the domain. In our experience, the easiest way to do so is via a HTML file upload.
  3. Choose which conversion events you will use: Don’t wait until it’s too late, but start thinking about these 8 conversion events now. Remember: this includes pageviews, add to cart, purchase, lead, complete registration and custom conversions. Which conversions you choose best is totally up to you.
  4. Consider removing the Audience Network: When you rely heavily on the Audience Network, you will need to rethink your strategy. You suggest to focus on the other placements provided by Facebook.
  5. Improve your first-party data: Focus on gathering first-party data, such as email addresses, in order to build (lookalike) audiences yourself. 

Or … you could work with Conversions API, an alternative to the Facebook pixel, which allows you to send conversions to Facebook. The API does not work from your client’s browser, but from your own server. That means you are no longer dependent on cookies and you can bypass the whole iOS 14 update. For more information, we recommend visiting the Conversions API page on Facebook for Developers.

Our general advice? Just be patient and see how it impacts your Facebook campaigns. Regularly check industry news and the Facebook Business Space. No one really knows how hard it will hit, but from what we read, a lot of people are concerned. Need help? Don’t hesitate to contact us; we’re happy to help!


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Justine Trio

Justine Trio

Marketing Copywriter

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