Facebook Advertising & iOS14 – Guidance & Actions for Business Owners & Marketers

If you’re running ads on Facebook (and frankly any kind of online ads) then you should be aware of Apple’s iOS14 ATT framework.

This is a full guide on what’s happening and what you can do about this as the true impact unfolds researched over many weeks with contributions and insights from sources across the web, at Facebook and peers.

Key Highlights (plus link to the free action packed eBook)

(updated September 2021)

This section is intended to give you the tl;dr. If all you read is the highlights here, you should be much more informed on the high-level of what’s happening with the option of deep-diving into the areas that make most sense for you to do so.

  1. What’s happening: In June 2020, Apple announced an upcoming change to their (at the time) new iOS14 iPhone and iPad operating system. Apple would prompt users on whether they were willing to allow the app developer to track their personal usage of the app via their ‘AppTrackingTransparency’ (ATT) framework (explained further below).
  2. Why is this happening? The truth is somewhere between Apple wanting to protect users’ privacy and Apple being a for-profit business that is potentially looking to monetize a new opportunity (the latter is directly from Facebook).
  3. When is this happening? iOS14.5 rolled out in April 2021 and the impact of ATT on businesses and advertisers has already been felt with the loss of data from iOS14.5+ devices and the changes enforced by Facebook in Ads Manager.
  4. What’s the advertising impact?
    1. Less accurate data for reporting based on opt-outs from tracking
    2. Less accurate audiences based on opt-outs
    3. Less accurate Interests based on loss of mobile app data
    4. An ads algorithm that has less reliable and less real-time data to make optimisation decisions
  5. Is it just Facebook that’s impacted? No. This update from Apple impacts ALL apps, not just Facebook, so this includes TikTok, Pinterest, Snapchat, Amazon and any other app that relies on collecting user data in order to build advertising and/or personalisation services.
  6. Are all advertisers equally impacted? The update impacts mobile app advertisers far more than non-app advertisers with sweeping changes coming in to restrict the data they can see.
  7. Does this update impact website tracking? Apple’s ATT directive impacts mobile apps only. However website tracking will suffer if the user has opted out of iOS14.5 tracking AND the advertising platform honours this through the user journey.This does not change or impact what you can or cannot track from websites via pixels, whether using cookies or server-side tracking from non-iOS14 users. Ensure you’ve set up  Aggregated Event Management – If someone opts out of tracking, Facebook will still collect some data, but it will be aggregated and modelled.
  8. Will server-side tracking solve this issue? The Conversion API (CAPI) is not a straight up solution to the above issues caused by Apple’s update – CAPI is designed to help advertisers collect data through their website (server) without relying on cookies (browser) and so has no impact on tracking in-app activity, which is the main concern here and explained further below. However, Facebook have rightfully advised this should still be priority for your business ahead of further browser and cookie based changes coming up.
  9. Is organic Facebook marketing impacted? This could impact organic performance on Facebook, since the newsfeed relies on signals from users (whether in apps or websites when browsing Facebook, Instagram or using Messenger) in order to see who you interact with, the items you’re interested in, groups and Pages you visit and more. Facebook would need to confirm or deny this – my personal opinion is that this will be impacted through fewer signals over time (thinking 2022 onwards) from iOS14 (or higher operating system) users.
  10. What actions can/should we take?
    1. Set up Aggregated Event Management
    2. Install the Conversion API
    3. Install our FAATT Framework (more on this soon)
    4. Use eROAS (estimated Return on Ad Spend) and eCPA (estimated Cost per Acquisition) to fill in some blanks and create some assumptions, together with Offline Conversions and attribution tools to track multi-channel behaviours. 
    5. Get better with your creative marketing (for example using The BPM Method) since targeting is negatively impacted.
    6. Go multi-channel (stop relying on one ad platform)
    7. There are also some additional items to consider regarding verification and tracking that need to be actioned explained further below in the ebook guide.

Further details are available in the the full eBook on insights and actions to consider right now. Choose from the following two options to access the full eBook:

1. Printable/Downloadable Version

Submit your details below to receive it via email and for regular updates on how we’re tracking Tracking & Attribution using our FAATT Framework.



(if for any reason the form above is missing/blocked by your browser, email us and we’ll manually add your email and send you the ebook)

2. Embedded Version

Below is the full article embedded here if you’d prefer to view it online (easier on desktop/tablet devices due to limited formatting control from the original live document).

Facebook Live Discussion with Q&A

The Audio Podcast

Listen to the full audit from the interview here:

Excerpt:

Depesh: And that’s the thing, it’s going to lose so many signals, but also an impact on targeting. Like you mentioned broad, for example, and how many people have said that over the last probably 12 months, use power simplification, CBO and broad, that stuff is not going to work as well as it did before, but also your lookalikes, your interests and behaviors, because guess what?

That relies on data. And if that data is not being passed, then the quality of that deteriorates. So DSPs, demand side platforms, they’re basically banner ads being served broadly to users based on some demographics and stuff.
That’s kind of how Facebook used to operate many years ago. It didn’t have all the data it has now. I’d probably say all of us here on this call, the four of us have probably experienced that.

A lot of people in the last two, three, four, five years, haven’t experienced the old way that you used to target with Facebook and the fact that you could only target right-hand side. And there were limited creatives and stuff like that. Still made it work, but not as easy as it is now, and I think that’s going to be harder to make it work.

Maxwell
: So part of me thinks in the long run, this type, these types of events are good for the market because the people that want to work hard and want to put the effort in and realize this shouldn’t be an easy overnight success thing are going to find ways to make it work.

They’re going to be creative, they’ll come up with solutions, that’s what entrepreneurs do. And the people that got into it just to make a quick buck and didn’t really want to put the effort in and looked for the easy hack in the solution, which is a lot of people, unfortunately, they won’t be able to survive. But at the end of the day, people survived 10 years ago, 20 years ago, a hundred years ago.

There was advertising firms who were buying stuff, right? People, there were companies that were thriving and growing back when there was no TVs, back when there was no radios, back when there was no internet.

I think it’s the same thing here. It’s we’ve gotten spoiled, we’ve got addicted to the way things are right now. And it’s going to be a rude awakening and it’s going to be painful and challenging to get off of that, but there’s another side. This isn’t this isn’t the end of the world.

11 thoughts on “Facebook Advertising & iOS14 – Guidance & Actions for Business Owners & Marketers”

  1. Really appreciate you putting so much thought and research into this. Read it from cover-to-cover as soon as you emailed it.

    I do have a question. A lot of the talk has been about ATT’s impact on Audience Network, app install campaigns, etc. Which is concerning even though I’m not an app developer (some of my best returns have been from Audience Network on my web campaigns).

    But even further, this is devastating even to basic retargeting, right? You mentioned this a couple times but just wanted to clarify. If someone comes to my site organically and gets tracked via cAPI, I still won’t be able to retarget them on Facebook if they turn off tracking within the Facebook app, right?

    Reply
    • Thanks Jason. Yes in short, if they opt-out of tracking on iOS14 in the Facebook app, then Facebook cannot link the user’s advertiser ID on their phone to their ID in Facebook’s database which means you’ll be unable to retarget them on their iPhone.
      To confuse things more, Facebook advised in a recent webinar it means they’ll also opt-out of non-iOS tracking (e.g. if they’re on a desktop browser) – I personally don’t think this is correct but if Facebook believes this is what Apple intends then that’s their decision. Facebook is yet to publicly confirm this and we’ll update the guide if and when they do.

      Reply
  2. I think specifically international markets are going to have a major hit because of the market share apple holds. However, in India, the % of market share of apple devices is around 4% max which should not impact a lot data. Thoughts?

    Reply
    • It’s a valid point that different markets will be hit in different ways. We understand South America also has fewer iPhone vs Android users too.

      Reply
  3. Hi Depesh,
    I’ve just finished listening to your interesting conversation with Curt Maly on FB (https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=1570921289771366&ref=watch_permalink).
    I’m facing one of the problems you’ve been pointing out. Let’s say I’m running an ecommerce domain (www. e c . xyz) where multiple clients sell on.
    Due to the domain’s architecture, ALL clients share the same root and are identified only by url parameters (e.g. www. e c.xyz?client_id=1).
    Do you see any solution at all on how give all of them who advertise on FB the chance to verify our domain for their campaigns?

    Thank you very much for your point of view on the matter,

    Matteo

    Reply
  4. The concept of pre-consideration marketing, where you embed a product in the consumer s mind before they have conceived the idea of buying it, is something which TV and other broadcast media have tried to instil since the very early days of advertising.

    Reply

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