The rapid evolution and growth of the digital ads ecosystems have led platforms to make changes that cater to both the consumer and business needs. Apple’s newest iOS update — to iOS 14 — is one that extensively modifies the way ads are created, tracked, and interacted with.
Facebook’s original response to the new iOS 14 policy was resistance, but it ultimately decided the best course of action was to oblige in order to provide stability for its businesses and partners.
In this post, we will go over Apple’s new iOS 14 policy, discuss the changes for both web and app advertisers, and review the required next steps to be prepared for these changes.
Apple’s New iOS 14 Policy
What Does the New iOS 14 Policy Entail?
To understand how Facebook advertising will be affected, you need to understand exactly what will be changed with the iOS 14 update. The full brief is available from Apple if you’d like to dig into the nitty-gritty details, but for those short on time, we’ve summarized the three main changes that are coming.
Data Nutrition Label
Tracking Transparency Prompts
Tracking via App/Browser APIs
What is Facebook Currently Doing to Mitigate These Changes?
While Facebook is against these changes due to the far-reaching effects they can have on small to medium-sized businesses, the technology behemoth will be adhering to the new iOS 14 policy guidelines listed above. Although these guidelines will lead to changes in the way businesses advertise, the threat of losing their relationship with Apple would ultimately be more detrimental to Facebook.
Here’s a summary of how Facebook is handling the upcoming changes:
Adhering to New Prompt Guidelines
Continuing to Collect Device Identifiers
App-Based Business Tools
Aggregated Event Management (AEM)
Changes Advertisers Can Expect
The ramifications of these changes will be felt by both web and app advertisers. We’ll go over each of those changes separately, but first, let’s cover some general limitations to be aware of if you’re a Facebook or Instagram advertiser.
Changes and Next Steps for Web Advertisers
Now, let’s go over what you can expect to change as an advertiser. If you’re an app advertiser, you can skip ahead to the next section. Web advertisers, read on
Facebook Aggregated Event Management (AEM)
Facebook will be implementing AEM to comply with Apple’s prompt. This will not solve all impacts of Apple’s protocol and advertisers will still lose functionality with these changes, but it’s their best option given the circumstances. AEM limits the transmission of user data while still supporting critical advertiser use-cases. Facebook hasn’t provided many details on AEM quite yet, but we’ll keep you posted as information continues to roll out.
Your pixel may only track and optimize for a maximum of eight conversion events for each domain. Facebook will initially configure the conversion events they believe to be the most relevant to your business. All other events will be made inactive for campaign optimization and reporting. You will be able to manage your event priority preferences in Events Manager.
Any ad sets that are optimizing for a pixel conversion event that is no longer active due to this eight-event limitation will be paused. Those who opt-out of the data tracking will only be logged for one event completed after the ad click. This means that only customers that make it to one of your predetermined conversion events on the first ad click will be logged.
To cater to this new system, Facebook recommends setting up your eight conversion events to track the potential customer at key points of their purchase journey. For example, if a customer visits your website, adds items to their cart, but does not go through with the purchase, you will want a conversion event for both the Add to Cart event and the Purchase event. Without the Add to Cart event, the data from that customer will not be tracked unless they complete a purchase on the first ad click.
You may need to consider changes to your campaign measurement strategy. Upper-funnel event optimization (landing page views, link clicks, etc.) may be required.
Attribution and Conversion Windows
Due to limitations of the view-through signal, the default attribution setting for new campaigns after the prompt is enforced will be set to seven-day click and one-day view. Facebook will no longer be able to support 28-day click, 28-day view, and seven-day view conversion windows. In situations when there is limited data available from iOS 14 users, statistical modeling will be used for certain attribution windows. There will be in-product annotation to communicate when a metric is modeled.
Conversion Event Breakdowns
Advertisers have previously been able to break down conversion actions for more insight into consumer behavior. By accepting Apple’s prompt, Facebook will no longer be able to show breakdowns for reported conversions. This includes delivery and action breakdowns, such as age, gender, religion, and placement.
For dynamic ads, it is important to ensure that your catalog is only utilizing one tracking pixel. The pixel will also only be able to report and optimize for a maximum of eight conversions. All other conversions will be made inactive for optimization and reporting.
Next Steps for Web Advertisers (infographic)
Now that we’ve summarized the changes, let’s go over what you can do now to prepare. In summary, you’ll need to make sure your web domain is verified in Business Manager, start preparing your list of eight priority pixel events, and prepare for the changes to attribution windows and campaign strategies.
For future preparation, campaign optimization will change as potential customers start to opt-out of data sharing. Niche-targeted campaigns could be affected by a lack of consumer data, therefore campaigns may need to be adjusted to suit broader audiences.
Overall, you will want to ensure that your campaigns are prepared for the changes coming to the Facebook advertising platform. Your agency team will help you plan for these changes and make sure your campaigns are built to any new best practices. As Facebook continues to release information, we will continue to update you on how that impacts your advertising efforts.
Changes and Next Steps for App Advertisers
Finally, let’s go over the changes and next steps as they relate to app advertisers.
Attribution – Restricted
Conversion data shared via app business tools may be restricted, aggregated, and delayed by the SKAN API. As for attribution windows for app install campaigns, Apple’s SKAN API will be determining those windows. This change is projected to occur in mid-to-late January 2021. Facebook will initially be defaulting to a seven-day click and one-day view attribution setting. The new default attribution setting may result in a decrease in the number of reported conversions.
Campaign Management – Restricted
If you plan to run app install campaigns, you will need to ensure that your app is associated with only one ad account. An ad account may house multiple apps, however. With the new iOS 14 update, you will only be allowed to run a maximum of nine campaigns at one time. Each of these campaigns must contain no more than five ad sets per campaign and auction will be the only buying type available. Once your campaign is published, you can’t turn on or turn off the iOS 14 campaign toggle. You’ll have to turn off or delete your campaign.
Breakdowns – Aggregated
Demographic breakdowns of conversion events will no longer be available.
Lift Measurement – Aggregated
This will be unavailable for iOS14 App Install and App Event campaigns.
Reporting – Delayed
Real-time reporting will not be supported and data may be delayed up to three days. For iOS 14 app install campaigns, conversion events will be reported based on the time they are reported to Facebook by the SKAN API. Results will be aggregated at the campaign level and statistical modeling may be used to account for results at the ad set and ad levels.
Next Steps For App Advertisers (infographic)
Now that we’ve summarized the changes, let’s go over what you can do now to prepare. In summary, you’ll need to make sure to review Apple’s new privacy details and if you’re using Facebook SDK, make sure you update to version 8.1 or up. Looking ahead, you’ll also want to prepare to use an “advertiser tracking enabled” flag, configure your conversions schema for app events, plan to integrate with SKAN API, and plan to consolidate your app campaigns to one ad per account.
The Apple iOS 14 update undoubtedly brings considerable change for all Facebook advertisers. Whether you are a web or app advertiser, this update is one that will not go unnoticed. Use the best practices set forth in this post to ensure your Facebook and Instagram ads can survive the iOS 14 update from Apple.
This post was co-authored with significant contributions from Lex Olson, Marisa Giacalone, and Erin Patten.