How iOS 14 Will Impact Advertising On Facebook’s Platform

Apple’s latest iOS 14 update will come with a significant change to how the App Store deals with user tracking. The update is set to take effect in January 2021. Up until now, the default setting for tracking in the iOS ecosystem of apps was to allow iOS users to be tracked. This will be changing now with the latest changes Apple has introduced with its AppTrackingTransparency framework. Now, apps like Facebook will have to explicitly ask for users’ permission to track them as the tracking capability will be turned off by default.

The iOS opt-in notification.

This change to user privacy was expected for a while now but it’s still big news simply because of it’s far reaching effects on the ad industry. Industry experts believe a substantial proportion of iOS users will likely opt out of being tracked as user privacy and tracking by social media giants has been a hot-button issue for the last few years. By some estimates, one could expect as many as 80% of users to opt out, radically changing the ad tracking landscape.

Although Facebook has been dead against the idea of forcing this measure down it’s throat, they seem to have come to accept it as an inevitability now. They have released information for their advertisers to take measures to prepare themselves against this situation.

The following are some of the highest-impact changes for advertisers on Facebook –

  1. You can only use 1 ad account per app install campaign. Though you can run ads for multiple apps from a single account, as well.
  2. You can’t have more than 9 active campaigns and 5 ad sets in each of those campaigns, at a given time. Plus, you can’t have more than 1 conversion event optimization at the ad set level across all ad sets in a single campaign.
  3. The website pixel will be limited to only tracking 8 conversion events. Once this change goes online, Facebook will on its own decide which 8 events to keep active for your account’s pixel. Though you will have the ability to choose the 8 most relevant events on your own from the events manager tab in your account.
  4. For the users who opt out of tracking on iOS 14, Facebook will use statistical models to estimate conversions from your ads. This might well be the biggest blow to ad performance tracking efficacy on the platform.
  5. There will be delayed reporting for app campaigns since the tracking and data will flow to Facebook’s ads platform via Apple’s SKAdNetwork API. Facebook estimates this delay to be upto 3 days long.
  6. Previously, website conversions used to be reported at the time of the ad impression i.e., if someone saw an ad on the 1st of October and went on to make a purchase (or add to cart) on the 4th of October, the conversion event would be reported in the stats from the 1st of October when the ad impression happened. This is set to change now. The conversion event will now be reported in the Facebook platform on the date it actually happened i.e., the 4th of October if we were to go with the above example.
  7. Another biggie: Reporting breakdowns based on gender, age, region, and placement will not be available once the new changes take effect.
  8. Attribution windows will be reduced from up to 28 click-throughs to 7 days. And, view attribution will be limited to 1 day, now.

What this means for your campaigns going forward –

The biggest takeaway for me is that advertisers will have to focus a lot harder on coming up with more compelling copy and copy and somewhat less reliant on retargeting. So advertisers with strong direct-response marketing skills will probably be able to deal with these changes better.

I’m still analyzing the 2nd order effects of this major change and I’ll be updating this blog as an when there’s more clarity to things.

You can read Facebook’s response to the tracking policy changes here – https://www.facebook.com/business/help/331612538028890?id=428636648170202