The iOS14 update and Facebook's reaction

Data Driven Marketing
Digital Analytics & Data
Media Consulting & Audit
Creative
Published on
14.4.2021
Reading time approx.
8
Minutes

At the launch of iOS14, Apple announced it would be pushing privacy further with the App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework. Now, with the iOS14.5 update, it's finally supposed to happen. While many are in favor of stricter privacy, on the other hand, it makes for potentially major restrictions in the social media advertising world. Facebook, in particular, has been hit hard by this and has already announced changes on its part. But before we get to those changes and show what's in store for advertisers, let's take a look at the problem itself.

What's the problem?

Apple has simultaneously announced with the software update "iOS14" to introduce their ATT framework [2]. In the course of this, all apps are prompted to pray the user for consent of tracking. Even though Apple has already presented their own solutions for the advertising market with their advertising API SKAdNetwork and the Privacy Click Measurement (PCM) and thus measuring conversions still remains possible, this will have massive consequences for the switching of ads on Facebook.

Who is affected by this?

Basically, anyone who either owns an app in the Appstore or advertises through one of those apps will be affected. While app developers need to make sure this opt-in is built in, marketers can expect to have less data available on social media. This also affects those who measure web conversion events through Facebook and optimize to that end [1].
Small businesses in particular, which rely on a very precise target group definition, could feel these consequences [3].

What exactly is changing now?

Facebook has already responded and announced some changes.

In response to these changes, we will now also process pixel conversion events sent from iOS devices by measuring aggregated events. This preserves user privacy and allows you to continue running effective campaigns.

In addition, there are other changes that mainly affect reporting but also targeting.

Creation of advertisements:

  1. During ad creation, only one of a maximum of 8 different conversion events can be selected per domain. These 8 events are initially set by Facebook, but can be adjusted.
  2. An app can only be linked to one advertising account and a maximum of 9 iOS14 campaigns can be created per app.
  3. Campaigns and ad groups that optimize for a conversion that is not one of the 8 predefined conversions are automatically paused.
  4. Custom campaigns must be created for iOS14 app install ads.

Reporting:

  1. Real-time reports with iOS14 data are no longer available. From now on, it can take up to 3 days until conversion events appear in the reports.
    This is partly due to the fact that Apple transmits the data to Facebook via an API.
  2. No more breaking down app and web conversions by age, gender, regions or placements.
  3. App and web conversion data for iOS14 users is only transferred to Facebook in aggregated form and only at campaign level. Facebook itself then uses statistical models to divide this data among the ad groups.
  4. The user's conversions are prioritized so that the entire conversion history is no longer reported. For example, only the purchase is reported as an event and not additionally that the user has added products to the shopping cart [4].
  5. The attribution window is adjusted. While previously 28-day click + 1-day view was set as default, this is now greatly shortened. The default is now 7-day click. Other choices are:
    - 1-Day-Click
    - 1-Day-Click + 1-Day-View
    - 7-Day-Click + 1-Day-View

Targeting:

  1. Custom Audiences of website visitors or users of your own app are shrinking.
  2. Retargeting audiences is also impacted, which can be especially noticeable with Dynamic Ads.
What should I do now?

There are four essential things that can already be done:

  1. You should screen your own setup and see if you use more than 8 different conversion events. If so, it's worth considering running some campaigns with more generic optimization options (such as landing page clicks).
  2. As an owner of an app with Facebook SDK, you should make sure to upgrade this SDK to a version 8.1 or higher, as the adjustments to iOS14 have already been made here.
  3. Domain verification: A code snippet is placed on the website so that Facebook can assign the domain to the advertising account. Once a domain is verified, the 8 conversion events can be customized in the Events Manager. For more information: [5]
  4. Set up conversion API: As an alternative to the Facebook Pixel, a so-called server-to-server solution can also be useful. Here, conversion data can be sent to Facebook via this API interface and the data already available can be enriched. More information can be found here: [6]. To what extent this API is also affected by the iOS14 update remains to be seen.
Conclusion

Since you can still measure conversions, the consequences of the change are less dramatic than feared. It is important to keep in mind that not all users are affected. The data of Android users is still available. And the data of iOS14 users who have given their consent is also available. However, it should be noted that data may well show up in campaigns one to three days later. Therefore, a campaign should not be analyzed based on a day or two. Also, for some companies, the shortened attribution window may mean seemingly worse performance. However, it should be noted here that the campaign can still be just as successful as before. It is therefore advisable to work more closely with other analytics in this regard and keep an eye on the big picture.

References:

[1] https://de-de.facebook.com/business/help/331612538028890
[2] https://developer.apple.com/app-store/user-privacy-and-data-use/
[3] https://de-de.facebook.com/business/apple-ios-14
[4] https://de-de.facebook.com/business/help/193250612476055
[5] https://de-de.facebook.com/business/help/245311299870862
[6] https://developers.facebook.com/docs/marketing-api/conversions-api/
Image source: Apple

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