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Facebook Ads: iOS Update And How To Deal With Tracking

Facebook Ads: iOS Update And How To Deal With Tracking

  • Yusuke Imamura

Welcome To The New Normal

With the release of iOS 14 and 14.5, Apple made a substantial update, but this isn't exactly breaking news anymore. At its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June 2020, Apple announced the release of iOS 14 and its App Tracking Transparency (ATT), which saw its first public release on September 16, 2020. Tensions have been high from the moment of the initial announcement until the release of iOS 14.5 in April 2021 and even to this day.

 Apple released a privacy statement to justify the need for its new update: “Privacy is a fundamental human right. At Apple, it’s also one of our core values. Your devices are important to so many parts of "your life. What you share from those experiences, and who you share it with, should be up to you. We design Apple products to protect your privacy and give you control over your information. It’s not always easy. But that’s the kind of innovation we believe in.”

There are few people who would dispute the significance of digital privacy, making it a huge victory for privacy protection. Still, the improvements have been far from ideal for marketers, and as you have probably already discovered, they are also not ideal for paid advertisements.

Apple released iOS 14 to give users greater control over the data they unwittingly share with publishers and advertisers, but this resulted in a general decline in the effectiveness of Facebook and Instagram ad campaigns. 

Marketers must continue running advertisements despite this new upgrade, right? This raises the important question: How do you get over iOS 14 & 14.5's privacy restrictions and continue to gather data to maintain the flexibility of your marketing strategy?

In this article, we will look at what this update actually means, how they have changed Facebook ads, and most importantly how best you can deal with tracking.

Apple's New Privacy Update

When Apple announced its privacy upgrade, it revealed plans to share the Identifier For Marketers (IDFA), which was developed to assist advertisers in measuring ad performance and tracking devices and individuals, when it announced its privacy upgrade. 

By sending pop-ups asking users if they want an app (like Facebook or Instagram) to be able to follow their online behavior, the iOS 14 upgrade essentially secures the users' privacy. Apple severely restricted what advertising and app developers may track in terms of user behavior and maintaining the security of users' data.

One important thing to note: Mobile devices don’t use cookies the way desktop browsers do.

For this reason, Apple offers something called IDFA, which is a unique, completely arbitrary ID number assigned to iOS devices, as a service. It makes browser tracking easier, enabling you - the marketer - to monitor user behavior inside such applications. Oh, don’t forget that the user can always reset IDFA, which does not gather any personally identifiable information (PII).

While advertisers were still cracking their heads on how these new changes would affect their advertising and the best way to go around it, on April 26, 2021, Apple published the iOS 14.5 updates, which by default disabled IDFA In order to give users the option of opting in or out of data tracking, and with this, they introduced the app-tracking transparency (ATT) prompt. This implies that each user will need to specifically authorize each app they use to enable IDFA.

Only 10% of users in the United States have chosen to participate in tracking, compared to about 17% of individuals internationally. I'm sure you can understand why those percentages are what they are. There is little doubt that the focus of technology will change to center more on privacy. Whether we like it or not, this is the new reality for advertising.

iOS Update Announcement

What does this mean for your business?

Ever since the updates, ad performance has gone down when compared to times before the changes. These differences are what you should be expecting:

  • Be prepared for audience sizes to decline.
  • Performance reporting delays and attribution window modifications are to be anticipated.
  • B ready for changes to account level attribution window settings.

Apple's release of iOS 14 specifically had a severe effect on Facebook ads in crucial areas like targeting, reporting, and optimization, making tracking different from what we’ve been used to. Let’s look closer at each of these a bit.

  • Targeting: Retargeting, remarketing, and lookalike audiences were formerly a mainstay of sophisticated Facebook advertising, but they are currently either mostly unavailable or performing poorly. The problem here is that the majority of iOS users choose not to be tracked. As a result, less data will be collected and your retargeting audiences will be much smaller. So, if your marketing plan heavily relied on retargeting website visitors, you probably are experiencing a noticeable performance decline. Additionally, pixel conversions like purchases or leads that are based on lookalike audiences are no longer being tracked properly. As a result, the quality of the audience has decreased and your ad effectiveness has decreased for many of your lookalike audiences whose data sources have degraded.
  • Reporting: To evaluate the effectiveness of their campaigns, advertisers have relied on Facebook pixel conversion metrics like ROAS and CPA. The majority of advertisers have seen shocking discrepancies in these analytics after the release of iOS 14.5 Additionally, Apple has said that users of iOS 14.5 would have a three-day delay in attribution data due to the Private Click Measurement (PCM) protocol. Because of this, Facebook Ads Manager advertisers see fewer reported conversions, which distorts their analytics.
  • Optimization: The algorithm has always been used by advanced Facebook advertisers to help them optimize their campaigns, as you are surely aware. The algorithm receives data from your advertising conversions, which it uses to automatically offer ads to those who match those who have already converted. By now I’m certain you have seen that this is no longer the case with the recent upgrades, and the reason is that Apple now only allows eight "conversion events" per webpage for Facebook ads. Why does that matter? In simple terms, it’s because the algorithm will have fewer data points to work with when optimizing itself. Smaller advertisers who don't have a lot of data points from big spending will be substantially impacted by this.
  • I am sure you now have a clear picture of the implications of Apple’s latest updates but don’t panic! You’ve got a handful of options to manage your campaigns.

    Without any doubt, the iOS 14 Facebook tracking can and will have an impact on your paid campaigns. Still, you can retain valuable user data.

    For one, you can still track conversions even if an Apple customer refuses to disclose their data. You can still track a single conversion event on Facebook. One of the most significant conversion events, the purchase, may be set up on Facebook to be tracked.
    If, for example, you are running a conversion campaign for an online retailer, Facebook won't be able to track every single conversion event, such as if a customer clicked on a certain page of the website, added something to their cart, and then completed their purchase. As a result, Facebook can only keep track of a single event at a time that you have designated as a high priority.

    Keep in mind that tracking the purchase is important if not even the most important aspect of tracking. You get to have details such as the number of purchases made, when they were made, their profitability, etc. In the end, conversion strategies should be centered on the purchase (including stats like purchase numbers, cost per purchase, and so on). 

     Tracking With iOS Updates

    How do you get over iOS 14 & 14.5's privacy restrictions and continue to gather data to maintain the flexibility of your marketing strategy?

    There are a number of tools that can help with this.


      1. SKAdNetwork API: The SkAdNetwork API is a tool that allows marketers to keep track of campaigns while maintaining user privacy. This tool provides advertisers with accurate attribution for their campaigns to Apple users without data directly related to the user or their device. Ads are displayed on a publishing app that begins a 3-seconds timer. Then, the app notifies the SKAdNetwork.If the ad is displayed for 3 seconds, the app notifies the tool and records it as a successful view. The publisher will render the advertised app’s StoreKit if the user engages with the ad. By engaging, we mean the user proceeds to make a purchase or install an app. If the user buys or installs the app within the SkAdNetwork attribution window, the advertiser will get the necessary data such as install postback from the purchase or app installs they need to track their campaign. 
  • Aggregated event measurement (AEM): AEM is another option for marketers to track campaigns without intruding on the user’s privacy. Here’s how Facebook described it: it’s a protocol that allows for the measurement of web and app events from people using iOS 14.5 or later devices. AEM currently limits domains and mobile apps to 8 conversion events that can be configured and prioritized for AEM. This would help advertisers optimize events that can give them the value they want.
  • Asides from the use of these tools, there are a number of actions that you can take to work around the issues created by the iOS 14 & 14.5 updates.

    Here are a few options to explore. 

    1. Verify Your Domain: Using domain verification, you can demonstrate to Facebook that your company is a real one. They will therefore assist you if you experience any account problems.
    2.  Use Re-engagement Audiences: Despite the fact that Facebook only allows logged-in users to access the site, the network still offers a ton of information you can use to create re-engagement audiences. Due to this, you can choose to only target users who: previously interacted with your content or page, watched one of your videos, or clicked on one of your ads. First-party data from Facebook is always a possibility if third-party data is scarce or unavailable.
    3. Personalize With Owned Brand Data: Personalization and contextualization will undoubtedly be more difficult to do to some extent. It won't be an easy process, though. More than ever, marketers will rely on their own data to use features like geo-specific targeting, multilingual campaign setup, personalized offers, weather-based creatives, and reliance on video advertisements for more engagement. Additionally, you can still tell which ads are functioning and which ones did not produce these outcomes. With Facebook advertising, brands can now embrace automation and use even more creativity, effectively putting a greater emphasis on long-term value than on short-term profit.
    4.  Investigate New Audiences Through Whitelisting: If your lookalike audiences based on pixel data have ceased to produce results, think about trying the audience made up of the followers of your influencers. You must activate creator licensing in order to gain access to their audiences. Using a creator marketing platform will allow you to swiftly connect with creators who accept whitelisting in a setting that is secure for the creator. Marketers won't need to worry about putting together the necessary documentation because the platform will handle all of that.
    5. Prioritize a Single Conversion Event: It's true that information about the purchasing process is crucial. But you might want to change your campaign plan due to the release of the update. You might want to keep an eye out for your Facebook Performance Measurement data this time for any more distinct incidents. For instance, attempt to concentrate on last-click conversion events in FB and GA metrics if you only receive information after the purchase is made. Consider it as reducing your options and focusing on the conversion itself rather than the particular circumstances that led up to it. This is how iOS 14 Facebook tracking contributes to the success of your overall plan.
    6. Create Innovative Ad Copy That Incorporates User-Generated Content (UGC): If your targeting options are limited, using better ad copy is one of the best methods to improve performance. How do you go about that? Include user-generated content (UGC) in your ad creatives and your ROAS will increase. You can A/B test various concepts to see how your readers react by utilizing various forms of UGC, such as unboxing videos and product reviews.
    7. Implement The Conversions API: The Conversions API enables you to track data that is sent directly from the server to Facebook, which is advantageous because many of the reporting problems with the Facebook Pixel are caused by it.
    8. Use Google Analytics To Your Advantage: After you have configured UTM tracking, you should build objectives in Google Analytics that are in line with the crucial conversion steps that Facebook tracks. You will be able to view additional targets achieved inside your performance data in this way. Any decline in conversions will now be apparent, and this will allow you to refine, enhance, and develop a stronger strategy for upcoming campaigns. This way, you can optimize your campaign to produce better results in the future. 
    9.  Broaden your audience: While narrowing your target used to be profitable, there is a need for an alternative strategy given the current lack of demographic information. You should therefore aim for a larger audience. How do you go about that? For better results, use interests that will appeal to a big audience and, if you can, combine interests while generating your ad packages.

    While these changes aren’t ideal, they have come to stay. You know what they say about change being constant; but the great thing is, with these options, you can still make the best use of Facebook advertising to scale up your business. We are rooting for you!


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