*Please note: iOS14 represents a significant change. Expected impacts and recommendations in this article will be updated over time to reflect new information and experience.c
February Updates on iOS14:
Facebook is testing notifications that ask users to opt-in to tracking. These notifications would occur before the Apple ATT pop-up and are likely to claim that Facebook will use user information to “provide a better ads experience.” User opt-in rates are expected to increase due to the Facebook notification, but projections of ultimate opt-in rate are unreliable at this time.
Apple is rolling out significant changes to data tracking permissions in their iOS14 operating system. The biggest change: iOS14 users must opt in to allow app developers to track their app usage. Since Facebook is an app developer, this permissions change will impact Facebook advertisers, publishers, and app developers.
Because a significant percentage of Facebook app users use iOS mobile devices, and because users typically opt in to data tracking at low percentages, we anticipate iOS14 will negatively impact Facebook targeting, performance, and measurement. Although Facebook’s reaction has been the loudest, Apple’s change will impact all other apps that use user data to personalize advertising (e.g., Pinterest, Snapchat, Amazon, and TikTok). These changes began to roll out in January 2021, and we predict to see increasing impact as users upgrade over the course of the year.
Lookalike audiences with seeds originating from the Facebook Pixel are likely to lose useful data points, weakening their performance.
Ads served through Audience Network placements will lose significant personal targeting capabilities.
A major portion of Facebook app users access the app on the iOS operating system, and their web activity will no longer be available to Facebook’s ad delivery algorithms. Facebook advertising effectiveness and efficiency will suffer because of that decrease in performance optimization data.
Facebook conversions will now be reported based on “time of conversion” rather than the previous “time of impression.”
Facebook is trimming its event limit to 8 conversion events per domain, including pixel events and custom conversions. Advertisers will be given the opportunity to communicate the priority order of their events.
What Advertisers Should Know
Work with the understanding that performance impacts are not as drastic as the measurement impacts indicate. Facebook will be less capable of measuring and reporting advertising successes, but advertisers need to remember that shadow success will continue to occur outside the beam of Facebook’s weaker flashlight.
Remember that the amount of time potential consumers spend on Facebook’s family of apps is unlikely to change based on the iOS14 changes. This means that Facebook will continue to be a relevant venue for advertising.
Continue pursuing best advertising practices, including rigorous testing. The iOS14 change presents new challenges to social media advertisers, but the principles of excellent advertising remain the same.
What Advertisers Should Do
Prepare for measurement and performance changes by:
Analyzing iOS performance to estimate impact of diminished iOS targeting and measurement options
Comparing performance across varying conversion windows to anticipate the new performance baseline
Updating performance projections to reflect anticipated changes
Structure accounts so that more data is aggregated for the algorithms to support successful ad delivery. Be patient: tests may now require longer runways to reach significance.
Run well-designed lift tests to verify social channel efficacy and incremental value.
Take additional metrics into account when judging performance. Ad engagement metrics and social feedback remain useful performance indicators to savvy advertisers.
Complete domain verification so that your advertising entity has control over the conversion events.
Review conversion event configuration and determine conversion event priority in preparation for the 8-event limit.
If running App Install campaigns, configure conversion schema and app event priority.
Determine whether installing Facebook’s Conversion API will benefit your business. The Facebook Conversion API (server-based) attempts to duplicate and supplement the Facebook Pixel functionality (browser-based). Do not expect this to dodge the impact of the iOS14 change.