Unless you have been living under a rock for the past few months (or have just stopped reading the news, and in this day and age who could blame you?!) you’ll most likely have seen the two tech giants coming to blows over Apple’s planned iOS 14 release.
But what is actually the issue?
Key Aspects Of The iOS 14 Update: Apple and Facebook’s Views
The main change is the introduction of Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework, which will showcase what data is used by various apps, and which will require users to 'opt in' for tracking on iOS 14 devices.
Apple states that this new framework is designed to protect user privacy and to give consumers more control over how their data is used.
Facebook marketing relies heavily on data collection of consumers’ website and app activity, and the platform is understandably concerned that the possibility that a high level of users opting out of tracking will cause difficulties for both small and large businesses to attain the same efficacy through marketing campaigns run via Business Manager.
So What Does The iOS 14 Update Mean To Businesses Advertising On Facebook?
The main concern for all advertisers on Facebook is that if increasing numbers of iOS users opt out of tracking, it will become more difficult for Facebook to gain relevant information on these people to allow for effective ad personalisation. In addition, decreased tracking abilities will potentially lead to lower levels of sales and conversions being attributed to Facebook and lower efficacy for the platform to display refined remarketing ads.
However, at the time of publication, it is impossible to predict at what speed or level this will occur, and there are several important considerations:
Whilst it is estimated that >50% of iOS users will choose to opt out of tracking, this is not yet confirmed. As of 2020, Android operating systems accounted for >70% of the market share worldwide, while iOS accounted for <28% The ATT will only apply to iOS users and will not affect Android, Samsung, Windows and other devices. Facebook as a platform is keen to retain efficient advertising tactics, and will therefore continue to develop updates to mitigate any negative effects of opt out iOS users.
What Changes Are Occuring On Facebook Business Manager As A Result Of This?
Facebook has recently introduced the new Aggregated Events Measurement (AEM) tool which is a protocol that allows for measurement of web events from iOS 14 users in a way that is consistent with consumers’ decisions about their data, and will be used in lieu of pixel data where necessary. Event priority in Aggregated Event Measurement will determine the conversion point which will be showcased if multiple conversion events occur.
The previous default 1 day view and 28 day click attribution model has been replaced by a new 1 day view and 7 day click model. Any active automated rules will change to a 7 day click attribution window once Apple’s changes take effect. For iOS 14 app install campaigns, the SKAdNetwork API will report results to Facebook aggregated at the campaign level. Real time reporting will not be supported under the AEM tool and data may be delayed for up to 3 days.
What Can You Do To Ensure A Smooth Transition For Your Business During The iOS Update?
1. Domain verification
Verifying your website domain in Facebook Business Manager will allow you to configure the conversion events used by both your Facebook pixel and by Facebook's new Aggregated Events Measurement tool, which will allow you to accurately optimise your campaigns for specific events, and receive the most accurate data in the Business Manager interface. You can check whether your domain is already verified by going into 'business settings' > 'brand safety' and 'domains'. If your domain is not currently verified, you can find out more about how to do this here.
2. Configure events in Aggregated Event Measurement
Facebook has automatically created an event list for your ad account, ranking website events such as 'add to cart' and 'purchase' in priority order based on their historical importance to your business and guided by data from recent ad spend. You can add up to 8 events in the AEM tool - this will not only allow for effective reporting but inclusion of specific events will also determine the opportunity to optimise for these events for future campaigns.
It is essential that the events included are ranked in ‘priority order’ from most to least important. This is due to the fact that where multiple conversion touchpoints occur on your website, the AEM tool will only report on the most important event.
So, if you include events ‘add to cart’, ‘purchase’, ‘initiate checkout’ in that order, and all steps are completed by a user, only ‘add to cart’ will be reported on. It is possible to reconfigure the AEM event priority list at any time, however doing so after Apple’s ATT prompt will cause all ads to stop delivering for 3 days while the system updates and these will need to be manually turned on again. You can discover more on how to prioritise events here.
3. Update to Facebook’s iOS 14 version 8.1
This action is designed to allow you to continue to market iOS 14 app install campaigns and allow for effective ad personalisation and measurement for app install ads. Additionally you will need to configure important events in a similar manner to AEM configuration for web events.
4. Utilise the ‘Comparing Windows’ feature
The comparing windows feature currently allows business owners to view comparisons of attribution windows, including; 1, 7 and 28 day view and 1, 7 and 28 day click. Due to the deprecation of the previous 28 day click/1 day view window to a new default 7 day click/ 1 day view window, businesses are likely to see a decrease in displayed results owing to some customers falling outside the new reduced timeframe.
Importantly, this does not necessarily mean less sales for individual businesses, however it will mean Facebook is able to attribute less sales to the activity of the platform. Using the comparing windows feature to view and capture historical data will lend clarity on the difference in results between the two attribution timeframes and afford an understanding and an expectation of a results level for your business going forward.
5. Amend any active automated rules
Change this to the 7 day attribution window to help avoid unexpected changes later. Prepare for a reduction in app activity and website Custom Audiences as more iOS users opt out of tracking.
6. Prepare to operate using one pixel and catalogue per domain
This will enable you to accurately capture conversion event data.
So, Is Facebook Marketing Finished?
In short, not at all. The iOS 14 update will certainly produce a more challenging environment both for professional Facebook marketers and for individual business owners hoping to reach qualified prospects for their businesses.
However, the impact on individual business’ marketing efforts will be determined by a number of factors relevant to your specific business. These will include things like your geographic demographic and whether you’re marketing to an area with iOS or Android market share. It will also depend on the standard conversion timeframe for purchase events to occur for your business. If most purchases occur within 7 days, you’ll see less of an overall decrease in results than if a larger portion of your purchases occur after 10+ days.
Combining an understanding of your goals and how your business best delivers results via Facebook ads with the best practice steps detailed above is the key to continued success for your Facebook advertising.
It is also important to remember that Facebook’s own main focus is to strive for as seamless a transition as possible during the update, and will therefore provide updates and additional resources to support businesses advertising on the platform as they become available. These additions will support our efforts as marketers and business owners to preserve user privacy and to continue to run effective marketing campaigns on the platform.