Four Steps to Prepare for Apple iOS 14’s Impact on Your Facebook Ads

January 20th, 2021 by Marissa Wehrer

Posted updated January 28, 2021 with updates to the Facebook platform in preparation of the Apple iOS 14 Update.

Key Insights

  • Apple’s iOS 14 update will have an industry-wide impact on businesses that use web conversion events to optimize, target, and report using Facebook’s business tools, such as the Facebook Pixel.
  • The update will allow users to opt-out of having their activity tracked across other companies’ apps and websites.
  • Prepare for this update now because the implementation date is expected to be in early 2021. We have already seen an impact on reported conversions in January, based on updates Facebook has made to prepare.
  • Take these four steps to prepare for this industry-altering change:
    • Step 1: Complete domain verification to configure pixel conversion events for Aggregated Event Measurement.
    • Step 2: Select eight conversion events that are most important to your business.
    • Step 3: Understand how reporting changes will affect your ability to measure success and optimize your campaign.
    • Step 4: Identify new campaign strategies and best practices.

How will the Apple iOS 14 Update impact my digital ads?

A significant update coming to iOS 14 devices will ask users if they would like to “Allow Tracking” or “Ask App Not to Track” their activity across other companies’ apps and websites. The general consensus is that the majority of iOS 14 users will opt-out of tracking, thus preventing marketers from sending personalized advertising to those who opt-out.

Apple’s new policy will have an industry-wide impact on personalized advertising.

This update will impact businesses that use web conversion events to optimize, target, and report using Facebook’s business tools, such as the Facebook Pixel. Effects include, but are not limited to, the inability to do the following:

  • Target the right audience with the right message at the right time
  • Allocate budget efficiently to produce the lowest cost per acquisition or return on ad spend
  • Get the same amount of data and granularity of reporting to inform decision-making

Despite these daunting changes, personalization is not at a total loss. Facebook Ads will remain an effective advertising channel if you rethink your current strategies and best practices.

When will the Apple iOS 14 update impact my digital ads?

The Apple iOS 14 update to “allow tracking” or “ask app not to track” is rumored to happen sometime in early 2021, now is the time to prepare. Apple has not confirmed a release date.

We have already seen attribution windows shrink from showing data for a 28-day window to 7-day click window, which means you should expect reported conversions to decrease in January.

How can I prepare my ads for the Apple iOS 14 Update?

If you currently use Facebook Advertising as a lead driver and revenue generator, the following four steps will be vital to avoid major disruption to your campaigns due to Apple’s upcoming AppTrackingTransparency framework for iOS 14 users.

Step 1: Complete domain verification to configure pixel conversion events for Aggregated Event Measurement.

Aggregated Event Measurement is a new, unreleased Facebook tool that will “process pixel conversion events from iOS devices” in compliance with Apple’s new policy while ensuring advertisers can still run effective campaigns.

As a new best practice for all businesses, you must complete domain verification. Domain verification is a way for you to claim ownership of your domain in Business Manager.

Do this immediately to prevent disruption of configuring conversion events with Aggregated Event Measurement.

Facebook recommends prioritizing businesses with pixels used by multiple Business Managers or personal ad accounts.

Following Facebook’s instruction, “Domain verification needs to be done at the effective top level domain plus one (eTLD+1). For example, for www.books.jasper.co.uk, books.jasper.co.uk and jasper.co.uk the eTLD+1 domain is jasper.co.uk. This can help ensure that your domain verification will encompass all variations.” (Source)

How to verify domains on Facebook

Step 2: Select the eight conversion events that are most important to your business.

Per website domain, you will be restricted to eight conversion events total, including standard events and custom conversions. As a reminder, events allow Facebook’s machine learning to better target, optimize, and measure campaign performance.

Once Apple’s update is implemented, Facebook will automatically configure the top eight events Facebook believes to be most relevant to your business based on campaign spend within the last 28 days.

The outlying events will be made inactive at this time, pausing any ad sets using the inactive events. You will have the ability to re-configure your events in Events Manager when this new tool becomes available; however, to avoid campaign disruption, it’s extremely important to be proactive.

If you are currently optimizing for over eight events across the same domain, make it a priority to select the eight events you will optimize for moving forward and adjust your ad sets’ optimization events accordingly.

Step 3: Understand how reporting changes will affect your ability to measure success and optimize your campaign.

There will be new reporting limitations that you should note, as they may affect how you measure campaign success and optimize campaign performance.

Delayed reporting:

Data may be delayed up to 3 days, which could severely impact optimizing short-run campaigns. Another key difference is that conversions will now be reported at the time the conversion actually happened, instead of getting attributed to the last ad impression or click.

Estimated results:

Statistical modeling may be used to account for conversions from iOS 14 users.

No support for breakdowns:

Delivery and action breakdowns, such as age, gender, region, and placement will not be supported. This could greatly impact how you review and optimize campaign performance.

In order to test theories based on delivery and action, you will need to manually run tests, likely by creating more targeted ad sets. However, be mindful that this directly goes against Facebook’s best practice to use broad targeting in order to improve machine learning. (Source)

Changes to account attribution window settings:

First, the attribution window for all new or active ad campaigns is now at the ad set level, in order to ensure that the conversions measured are the same ones used to optimize ad delivery. This is one of the first changes to the Facebook platform in response to the iOS 14 update.

How to do Facebook optimization and delivery

Additionally, the default window is now a seven-day click attribution window, and 28-day attribution will not be supported for new or active campaigns. The following windows are supported under the new attribution setting:

  • 1-day click (modeled data)
  • 1-day view (partial data)
  • 7-day click (default) (partial data)
  • 1-day click and 1-day view
  • 7-day click and 1-day view

This is the most impactful update to the Facebook platform so far. Starting in January, we are already seeing a decrease in conversions due to the new attribution window settings set by Facebook.

Step 4: Identify new campaign strategies and best practices.

Optimizing: Test new optimization events

By being limited to only eight events, this may force you to determine new best practices on how to optimize your campaigns. If you previously optimized your campaign with low-funnel custom conversions, you may need to test broadening your optimization events to less-granular or higher-funnel actions to encompass more website touchpoints.

And if you haven’t switched to Campaign Budget Optimization (CBO) yet, then now may be a good time, in order to let Facebook’s machine learning take some of the guesswork out of optimizing your campaign.

Targeting: Test new audiences and targeting

Our ability to target and remarket to your ideal customer with personalized ads will be severely limited. Now is the time to start testing new audiences, likely interest and in-app engagement, in order to create a new targeting best practice.

You may also want to consider removing the Audience Network as a placement from your ad sets, since Facebook is not confident in their ability to deliver personalized ads for this placement to iOS 14 users.

Facebook stated, “Ultimately, despite our best efforts, Apple’s updates may render Audience Network so ineffective on iOS 14 that it may not make sense to offer it on iOS 14.” (Source)

Reporting: Test new attribution windows and metrics

Reporting already looks different with the new 7-day attribution windows, and eventually we will lose reporting breakdowns.

If you have been using 28-day attribution, review what performance looks like when limited by 7-day click attribution by using the comparing windows feature, where you customize reporting columns. Doing so will help you prepare for the “drop in performance” you’ll see when your default attribution window is updated to 7-day click. It’s important to understand the “drop in performance” is due to a lack of reporting and not actual performance.

Remember to update automated rules using attribution windows, if applicable.

How to use Facebook attribution windows

If you currently report using breakdowns by delivery or action, determine how or if you will continue reporting on this granular data moving forward. Since these reporting breakdowns will no longer be available, you may need to determine new key metrics to report on.

Apple’s iOS 14 privacy update will transform the digital advertising landscape. To maintain control of your accounts, stay on top of the upcoming changes and create new best practices for optimizing, targeting, and reporting.

It’s okay to feel a bit confused about the effects on your Facebook Ads, because no one has all of the information or answers yet. If you have questions about how you can still generate leads for your business despite these changes, one of the experts at Search Influence can help. Contact us today to learn more.

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