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How iOS 14 Will Affect Your Ads and 7 Ways You Can Prepare Your Business Now

(Updated Feb 2021)

What’s all the fuss about with Apple’s iOS 14 update and how will it affect your ads? The changes can get quite technical, so we’ve developed a simple guide to understanding what the update is, how it will affect your ads and how you can prepare.

In this article, you’ll gain insights on:
  • what’s happening with the iOS 14 update
  • who will be affected
  • how the changes will affect your ads
  • what Facebook is doing about it
  • actions you can take now to prepare your business

What is Apple’s iOS 14 update?

The iOS 14 update includes a change to how apps collect data and will require all apps to ask iOS 14 users for permission to track them across apps and websites owned by other companies. 

Tracking allows brands to collect data for ads, so if a user opts out of being tracked as the same person across sites and apps, it affects targeting, optimisation and measuring conversions. You see, each device has what’s called an Identification For Advertisers, or IDFA, which helps advertisers see whether their ads are effective. You may click on an ad but decide not to purchase right away. With tracking, the advertiser is able to see that the ad was still effective because you purchased from the brand within a certain timeframe after clicking on the ad.

While users already have the option to opt out of data collection and tracking by disabling it for each app, iOS 14 requires users to opt in through a pop up notification. Giving a clear option to opt out means that more people probably will. When Apple introduced location tracking permission prompts in the iOS 13 update, opt-in rates to share data with apps when they’re not in use dropped from close to 100% to below 50%. Around 70% of users share their IDFA with apps at the moment, but that’s expected to drop significantly with iOS 14.

Who will be affected by the update?

  • People using iOS devices who update to iOS 14, which is supported by iPhone 6s onwards. Data tracking is still available for Android users, desktop users and people who don’t opt out.
  • Anyone who runs advertising campaigns for leads or sales across any platform such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, SnapChat, TikTok, YouTube, and Google.

How will Apple’s iOS 14 update affect my ads and business?

CAMPAIGN SET UP

  • Facebook will only track 8 conversion events per domain, such as Add to Cart, Purchase, Lead, and Complete Registration, and will ask you (or your account manager if you’re with a digital agency) to rank these in order of importance in Events Manager. This could be challenging for big brands who operate different versions of their website depending on location or language.
  • If you have both Add to Cart and Purchase as 2 of your 8 events, then only the conversion event with the highest prioritisation will be recorded. Although, if you’re recording purchases as your highest ranking, then you can assume that these people also added to cart.
  • When changing the prioritisation of these events, there’s a 3 day delay on running campaigns with this new order of events to ensure accurate reporting.

TARGETING

  • There will now be limitations to tracking based on demographics. While advertisers can still target based on geographic and demographic segments, there will no longer be support for reporting breakdowns based on these segments for people who opt out.
  • Without breakdowns for age, gender and region, it’s challenging to adapt ads based on what your ideal audience is engaging with.
  • The good news is that, as you can see below, this is only for those who opt out, and there are still plenty of work arounds for those who do. For example, Facebook users sign up by providing their age, gender and location, so Facebook owns this data even for those who opt out of tracking across apps.

RESULTS & REPORTING

  • Measuring results will be restricted, aggregated and delayed. Delayed attribution (the credit that’s given to an ad for a conversion) means that conversions will appear in Ads Manager within 3 days. Advertisers rely on these results to make quick adjustments to ad creatives, copy, audiences and spend based on how well the ad is doing, or to make the decision to pull the ad altogether. There’s a need to make sure the creative and copy is nailing it from the start so that you don’t have to wait days (and waste money) to realise that people aren’t engaging with it.
  • Facebook is removing the 28 day click windows and all view-through attribution data (this is when someone views your ad and takes an action later), so all new or active ad campaigns will be set at a 7 day click attribution window. Think of it like this: someone sees your ad, loves your product and wants to purchase, but they get paid in 8 days and decide to wait until then. With a 7 day window, that ad – clearly linked to the purchase – won’t get credit for the conversion. Return on ad spend (ROAS) will look like it’s taken a nosedive, but you’ll still be getting the conversions.
  • If there are a lot of opt outs, this takes away a huge amount of tracking data, which means that there will only be partial reporting of results, and the rest will be made up of estimated results. Wherever there’s partial reporting and these models have been used, you’ll be notified in the Ads Manager window.
  • In response to Apple’s update, Facebook is changing how it processes pixel conversion events, in other words, the way it gives credit to ads when people convert. It’s called Aggregated Event Measurement and will mean that Facebook will be using statistical models to make up for lost data.

How can I prepare my business for the iOS 14 update now?

#1 Get your domain verified

Facebook suggests that all domains get verified to make sure we can track all selected events. Verify your website with Facebook by heading to Business settings > Domains > Verify.

#2 Choose 8 conversion events

If you’re running your ad account yourself, choose your 8 most important conversion events, such as Add to Cart, Purchase, Lead, Complete Registration and any custom conversions you have set up by going to Events manager > Pixel. If this sounds confusing, consider handing it over to the experts and get in touch.

#3 Use data from Facebook, Shopify and Google

Data on who visited your website from iOS devices may become skewed and people who opt out won’t be included in your website retargeting or lookalike audiences as before, but there are still ways to retarget and include them in custom audiences.

  • Anyone who has visited your page, engaged with your page’s content or clicked on an ad is included in your Facebook engaged audience. Even if someone has opted out of being tracked across apps, you can still retarget them if they’re part of this audience.
  • Upload your customer lists to Facebook as custom audiences. If someone has purchased from you, they will be part of these custom lists, even if they’ve opted out. You can auto-populate this using Mailchimp and Klaviyo integrations.
  • This opt out preference is based on the operating system, not the Facebook account, which means that someone who has opted out on mobile could still be tracked on desktop.
  • Use analytics from Shopify and Google to piece together any lost data.
  • Create predictive formulas to inform what new targets would be. Or, work with us! We’re already creating predictive formulas to stay ahead of any lost attributive data.

#4 Analyse your historical data

Prepare for view-through attribution data to disappear by downloading your historical data for 28-day view-through, 7-day view-through and also 28-day clickthrough. Compare your 28-day click conversions with 7-day click conversions to understand how your reported conversions will be impacted.

#5 Focus on getting email addresses

Focus your ad efforts on getting email addresses so that you can rely less on pixel optimisation for retargeting and grow your custom audiences. You could do this by running a competition, or offering a piece of content that people insert their email address to get.

#6 Bookmark for future reference

Remember that this only impacts iOS 14 users who opt out, which could end up being a low number! Bookmark this blog for future reference – we’ll keep updating this as more information and data comes out over the coming months.

#7 Move to a holistic view of business growth

Re-focus from being highly fixed on return on ad spend (ROAS) to looking at overall business growth through your investment in a paid social strategy. Conversions will now be under-reported due to people opting out of tracking, but you’re still going to see the conversions coming through as we drive growth for your business.

We’re here to help! Get in touch now to understand how our ad experts can navigate these changes for your business.

As a Facebook Business Partner, we get insights first and directly from Facebook, and we’re already creating custom predictive formulas to stay ahead.