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IOS 14: The Impact on Facebook Advertising

Posted April 26, 2021
4 minute read

User logging into facebook on an iphone

If your business actively advertises online, you certainly should be aware of the most recent updates by Apple. In June 2020, Apple announced the rollout of their new IOS 14 iPhone and iPad operating system.

The newest update, 14.5, is set to begin rolling out this week and may have a significant impact on your Facebook advertising campaigns.

We’ve put together this brief breakdown of the changes ahead, along with some actionable steps that you can take in response. Read on to learn what you can do to limit the impact of Apple’s new IOS 14 update on your advertising campaigns.

What is happening?

On Tuesday, April 20, 2021, Apple confirmed that their new IOS 14.5 operating system would begin to roll out this week. The major component of this update that online advertisers should take note of is the introduction of the new App Tracking Transparency (ATT) Framework.

This new framework requires all mobile apps to prompt users on whether they are okay with the app developer tracking their usage.

This prompt is unique because it requires users to actually opt-in to data collection rather than opt-out.

How will this impact your campaigns?

While the overall impact is still unknown and likely won’t be until later in 2021, once more people adopt IOS 14, many experts have speculated on how this change will impact ads on Facebook and other platforms. Here’s a quick breakdown:

Ad placements on the Audience Network will be less personalized

Facebook’s Audience Network is a collection of ads spanning across thousands of mobile apps outside the Facebook family. With a limited view of user behavior, the ads on this network will become much less personalized. These updates will not have a significant impact on most advertisers, though. Many have found these placements to be ineffective and avoid them altogether.

Conversion tracking

If a user opts out of being tracked by Facebook, Facebook won't be able to see what actions a user takes after they leave (on mobile). While you will still be able to see what action they take on your website because of tracking with Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics, that information won't be reported back to Facebook's dashboard. This will make optimizations more challenging as Facebook's algorithm won't have the same amount of information about which user behaviors lead to conversions and which do not.

Audience behavior/interest targeting

Similar to the above, Facebook will have much less information about what a user does after they click to leave Facebook. This means that any interest and behavior targeting attributes you may have previously used for campaign targeting will likely be less reliable.

Ad account/Business manager operations

Advertisers will be limited to eight custom conversion events. If you currently have several custom conversions set up within your business manager, you will need to consolidate these into eight high-priority conversions.

  • Ad sets optimizing for an event beyond the eight that are prioritized will be paused.

  • The eight conversion events per domain will be ranked based on priority. If a user completes multiple events (i.e. “add to cart” and “purchase”), only the higher prioritized event will be reported.

  • After the initial configuration, the domain owner will be able to configure which eight events are tracked for a given domain in Events Manager.

Smaller attribution window

Facebook is moving from a 28-day click and 1-day view window to a 7-day click and 1-day view attribution window. Fewer conversions will be reported in the Facebook dashboard because of the much smaller window.

This will likely result in fewer year-over-year conversions being reported even if the same number (or more) conversions actually occur. Facebook will try to use modeling to help advertisers understand how many conversions will be underreported, but it's not exactly clear how that will look.

What steps should you take now?

While the impact of these updates is still unknown, there are steps that you can take now to prepare your business and minimize any negative effects. Below is a summary of guidance provided by Facebook to prepare for the update:

Verify your domain in Business Manager: Facebook is asking that all businesses who actively advertise on the platform verify their domain within the Business Manager using the steps in their Help Center.

Prepare for the eight conversion limit: If you are currently using more than eight custom conversion events throughout your campaigns, take a look at these and begin to consolidate them. Choose the eight conversions that are the highest priority to your business.

Prepare for attribution window changes: Adopt the Comparing Windows feature to see how conversions attributed to ads compare across different attribution windows. Also, adjust any automated rules using a 28-day attribution window to a 7-day window to avoid any unexpected changes to spend when the update goes into place.

The Future of Advertising and Privacy

With data privacy and security top of mind for consumers, many online platforms are making significant changes. This latest update by Facebook is only one of few taken by major technology companies recently. Google announced its plans to phase out third-party cookies last year, and other updates are sure to come.

Stay informed and ensure that changes do not negatively impact your business by continuing to read up on blogs just like this one.


Topics Digital advertising

Alan joined WebStrategies after earning his BA in Communications from Rutgers University. Alan brings value to WebStrategies in several ways, assisting our Client Account Managers in delivering top-tier digital marketing strategy and producing detailed reporting to analyze and interpret results, as well as writing content to educate companies on improving their digital marketing strategy.

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