Social Advertising

What Advertisers Need To Know About Apple’s iOS 14 Update

February 27, 2021

Amongst the predicted marketing trends for 2021, few could have anticipated Apple’s announcement that it will implement privacy changes with its iOS 14 update which will impact every brand advertising via Facebook. In fact, all businesses that advertise on mobile apps, as well as those that optimize, target and report on web conversion events from any of Facebook’s business tools will be affected. Ahead of the update, slated to rollout early spring 2021, all advertisers should understand how these changes will directly impact digital marketing and pivot their social media strategy accordingly. 

What Will The Update Entail? 

The update will affect the way Facebook receives and processes conversion events from tools like the Facebook pixel. Specifically, Apple will begin to require that all apps in the App Store show a prompt to users on iOS 14 devices. Named the “App Tracking Transparency (ATT)” prompt by Apple, this feature will ask users for permission for the app to track them outside the platform in different ways. Unless users choose to opt-in for tracking on iOS 14 via the prompt, this new policy will prohibit certain data collection and sharing for advertisers. Apple has stated that the intention of this prompt is to give users more transparency and control over third-party data collection.

As a percentage of users inevitably opt out of tracking on iOS 14 devices, ad personalization and performance reporting will be limited for both app and web conversion events. 

Facebook uses industry-standard Online Behavioral Advertising (OBA) across all the sites and apps that use their pixel and Software Development Kit (SDK) to fuel advertiser’s growth. So, while Facebook still has in-app signals, losing valuable signals like transaction data across apps and sites will tremendously impact their success delivering business outcomes for their advertisers.

What Does The Update Mean For Advertisers?

Upon rollout of the ATT, advertisers can expect to be effected in some or all of the following ways:

Less Efficient and Effective Ads and Reporting:
  • Delivery and action breakdowns, such as age, gender, region, and placement will no longer be supported. This will directly shift the process of creative dictating targeting, as advertisers won’t know who the ads are resonating with to improve them in future
    • Advertisers will still be able to target based on geographic and demographic segments, but will no longer be able to see a reporting breakdown by these factors
  • Real-time reporting will not be supported, and data may be delayed up to 3 days
  • When Facebook is not able to track user behavior, the effectiveness of the tracking pixel and all of its implications will severely diminish. This could result in inaccurate reporting for conversions all the way down to ineffective remarketing efforts
  • With targeting options weakened, personalized ads won’t necessarily be delivered to targeted audiences 
  • Delivery and action breakdowns, such as age, gender, region and placement will not be supported. This is a big deal and goes against Facebook’s narrative of creating for growth, where creative dictates targeting and not the other way around. If you can’t know who your ads resonate with, it’s hard to make them better in the future.
  • Web conversion events will be reported based on the time the conversions occur rather than the time of the associated ad impressions
  • Without targeting options, ads will result in wasted spend and more generalized campaigns/copy for ads, thus garnering less effective results throughout
Lower Sale Conversions for Businesses:
  • Your pixel could only optimize and track for a maximum of eight conversion events for each domain. For advertisers who are only focused on one outcome, this shouldn’t create tremendous  impact. However, this could cause challenges for advertisers who operate multiple different versions of their website according to their visitors country location and/or language
  • Facebook’s studies show that without personalized ads powered by their own data, small businesses could see a cut of over 60% of website sales from ads
  • Businesses may need to turn to subscriptions and other in-app payments for revenue, and in tandem, many free services will have to start charging or even exit the market
Facebook’s Response:

Facebook has been outspoken about their belief that this decision would hurt small businesses. It’s also clear this backlash stems from the potential financial ramifications for Facebook and the other publishers, which would be far larger. In early February, Facebook rolled out its own prompt to some iPhone and iPad users to opt in for Facebook to track their activity for a ‘better ads experience.’

Facebook will be using statistical models to try and make up for lost data from iOS14 users. With this, “Aggregated Event Measurement” will be designed to help measure campaign performance in a way that is consistent with consumers’ decisions about their data. As well, the company encourages advertisers to visit its site to evaluate strategic options in advance. 

Actions Advertisers Can Take to Prepare:

In looking at and reevaluating your social media marketing strategy for 2021, here are a few tips to consult before the iOS 14 update ATT rollout: 

Use Your Web Tools to Your Advantage:

One example is to upgrade to the latest Google Analytics for Firebase. For advertisers using Google Ads, Google has recommended upgrading to the latest version of Google Analytics for Firebase to enable SKAdNetwork support.

Create Campaigns Utilizing Your Site:

As part of your holistic strategy, run web visit campaigns using your website’s internal tracking. This will provide info regarding whether or not a sale or conversion occurred as a result of the ads.

Prepare in Advance:

Prepare for the view-through attribution data to disappear. In advance, download your historic data for both windows (28-day and 7-day) and also 28-day clickthrough. As well, verify your domain with Facebook as soon as possible to ensure your pixel data is as seamless as possible.

Track Your Data Early and Often: 

This ATT solely impacts iOS 14 users. The adoption rate of opt-outs will be unknown until it takes place. Monitor your data and results closely to better understand the impact. This will help you prepare as iOS 14 continues to rise in adoption over time.

Related Links: 

– Olivia Carroll 

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