March 15, 2021

How Apple’s iOS 14 Update Will Impact Facebook Ads

Written by Jonty Boshoff

Apple’s latest updates to iOS 14 adds a new feature that allows users to opt-out of app data tracking that companies like Facebook currently rely on for ad targeting. This update creates a blind-spot in Facebook’s ad algorithm, so they are making some updates to ad targeting as well as adding a few ad limitations to accommodate Apple’s iOS 14 privacy update.

With Apple accounting for about 55% of mobile devices in North America, the update has the potential to seriously disrupt online advertising targeting methods, depending on the number of users who will opt-out of app tracking.

Before this update, Facebook’s ad algorithm leveraged user activity data on any website visited that uses a Facebook pixel to refine the ads they show to users. After the update, Facebook will only be able to track a few key events from iOS users who have opted out of tracking.

Facebook is responding to the loss of data from iOS 14’s privacy feature with something called Aggregated Event Measurement, which limits advertisers to track up to eight key conversion events per domain. Facebook is also adding some limitations to ad creation and adding delays to reporting as a result of the update.

Backstory: iOS 14 vs Facebook

As recent events regarding data privacy happen all around the world, companies like Apple are making moves to protect user data instead of profit from it. 

Apple’s shift towards increasing privacy is not new. In 2016, iOS 10 introduced differential privacy which reported aggregated data to partners instead of real-time data.

In 2017 with iOS 11, Apple’s Safari browser update included anti-tracking features which also impacted online advertising, prompting major players in the digital ad space like Facebook to respond negatively to Apple’s updates.

How iOS 14 Impacts Facebook Ads

The latest iOS 14 update has resulted in several factors that Facebook advertisers need to be aware of.

  • Aggregated Event Measurement will step in for the loss of data of iOS 14 users who opt-out of data tracking. Aggregated Event Measurement focuses on tracking up to 8 key conversion events per domain and uses predictive data modelling to fill in the blanks. Facebook advertisers will need to define these 8 key measurement events.
  • Ad sets that were optimizing for a pixel conversion event that is no longer available due to the iOS 14 update will be turned off. With new data limitations, you may need to change some campaign objectives towards landing page views or link clicks.
  • Real-time reporting will no longer be supported for web events and data may be delayed up to three days. This delay needs to be taken into account when reviewing ad performance as well as when creating reports.
  • The attribution window for all new active ad campaigns will be set at the ad set level rather than the account level to ensure that the conversions measured are the same ones being used for campaign optimization. This may help increase campaign flexibility by allowing multiple attribution methods to be used in one campaign.
  • Facebook recommends all domains used for ad destinations be verified to avoid ads being rejected.
  • Facebook recommends only using one catalogue and pixel per domain for e-commerce advertisers using dynamic product ads.
  • Advertisers focusing on app installs will need to adhere to a slew of new policies such as only associating one app per ad account, inability to toggle ads on or off, ads going to a web browser instead of the app install page, targeting limitations, estimated results instead of actual results, removal of demographic data reporting, and a limit of 9 iOS 14 specific campaigns per ad account.

How to Update Your Facebook Ads For iOS 14

There are a few key things advertisers need to do to ensure ad accounts are ready to adapt to the iOS 14 update.

  • Consider updating campaigns that currently optimize for a pixel-based conversion event like form completions to optimize for link clicks or landing page views.
  • Define the 8 key conversion metrics that you will use for ad optimization in your campaigns
  • Verify all domains you plan to use as an ad destination.
  • If you use multiple pixels or catalogues on your domains, migrate to one pixel per domain.
  • Review remarketing campaigns as data limitations may impact performance.

Another Step Towards Internet Privacy

Internet and mobile device privacy is constantly increasing. Consumers are becoming aware and unhappy with how their data is leveraged for profit. It has become such a prevalent issue in the world today that many companies like Apple are making shifts towards user privacy. Google is currently facing a class-action lawsuit for allegedly invading user privacy.

With consumer data privacy demands continuing to increase, we should expect to see our digital marketing platforms change as we continue to adapt to new rules, regulations, and limitations. As marketers, we need to remain informed of privacy changes and adapt quickly when needed.