Changes to Facebook Ads: Apple iOS14 Update

Apple iOS14 Updates - Changes to Facebook Ads

Most likely you have heard some news about Facebook and the iOS14 update from Apple.

In 2020, there was an announcement from Apple about the way they are going to handle customer data and tracking on their latest software update for iOS14.

I’ve been watching, reading, listening and chatting with other Facebook Ads Managers. As with any changes (and they come often with Facebook) some Ad Managers are quick to believe the sky is falling, while others realise it’s part of the game and will adapt as required. I’m certainly in the ‘adapt as required’ camp.

It’s early days and until it actually rollouts out, we won’t know the full impact. However there are things we can do to be prepared.

Background: What is Apple Doing?

When users update their system (think iPhone and iPads) to iOS 14, they will be shown an opt-in prompt on each app where they can choose whether to allow third-party sites (like Facebook and other social media sites) to track their user data. 

In simple terms - this means that if a user doesn’t allow tracking within the Facebook or Instagram app, when they click on a link from their news feed, Facebook and Instagram will no longer be able to track that user’s activity on the website they visit.

If they view certain pages, make a purchase or provide their email address - this could be tracked via Facebook. This data was then used amongst other things to create new audiences and optimised campaigns. From a user perspective, the data was used by Facebook and other platforms (including Apple) to deliver customised and relevant information. The ability to use this data will not be possible if the users opts out of tracking.

Not everyone will opt out of tracking, figures are flying around the internet, and where they land is a guessing game at this stage. A recent study, suggested that up to 60% of users will allow tracking with specific incentives.

It’s also important to note that it’s only affecting users on Apple mobile devices. Users on Android and desktops will not be affected.  

You & Facebook - How Will This Affect Your Facebook Account?

Facebook Ads Management

Facebook relies heavily on the user data from software such as iOS 14 to track and optimise campaigns. All the data is collected via the Facebook Pixel. If they are limited to how much data they can access, it’s going to change how things are currently done. At this stage we know the following changes will occur; 

Tracking attribution windows

By default Facebook has a 28 day attribution window. This means if a user interacted with your ad in the last 28 days and purchases today - Facebook will track it as a purchase today. Most likely we will see a shortening in this window to 7 days. For evergreen campaigns it’s not a huge deal, but will have an effect. However for launches which run over a month or more, it can be difficult to get accurate data from Facebook. For example if someone signed up to your challenge via an ad and then purchases - we might not be able to track that purchase back to the challenge ad as we currently can. Other tracking sources such as your website, payment processors and tracking software will most likely be needed.

Only 8 Tracking Events

Only 8 tracking events can be optimised per domain. These events are things such as purchases, leads, initiate checkout, completed registration, etc. If you have multiple funnels or complicated funnels this can become an issue. However at this stage I don’t see it being a major issue.

Start to consider your funnels and which events you want to optimise for.

Custom Audiences

Often with Facebook Ads, we rely on custom audiences created from website traffic, purchase events, etc. Based on the changes, Facebook will be provided with less data which will have a follow on effect on these audiences. Best guess at this stage is that custom audiences won’t be as powerful or will take longer to optimize as less data is available.

Reporting & Breakdown

We have been spoilt by Facebook with almost instant reporting. This will change and reporting could be delayed by up to 3 days. We will also have less data breakdown in terms of gender, age, region and placement for ad results.

What To Do Now - How Do You Prepare?

Get ready for Apple iOS14 Changes with Facebook Ads

In light of this, Facebook has suggested all accounts make changes to be prepared. Even if you aren’t currently running ads, I would suggest that you get prepared now. 

Similarly how it’s recommended to install the Facebook Pixel and Google Analytics on your website when it first goes live, you don’t have to do anything with the data now, but it’s being tracked and could prove useful in the future.

Domain Verification With Facebook

Facebook recommends that all businesses verify their domain with them as best practices. This is especially important if you have multiple domains (in your funnels) or are using a personal ad account. The process is fairly straightforward and for many of my clients it was done within a few minutes. 

Instructions can be found here. The easiest method is the meta tag where you are adding one line of code to your head section - similar to how the Facebook Pixel was installed.

Determine Your 8 Standard Tracking Events

Moving forward you can only optimise to 8 tracking events at one time. It can be changed, however it takes time and ideally you don’t want to change optimisation events regularly. 

Based on your current activity Facebook will optimise for the most appropriate events. However I would recommend, considering your business, it’s goals, your funnels and future plans to determine which events might be best for you. 

For most of my clients (coachings, consultants and course creators), the main events they use are;

  1. PageView
  2. Leads (for pdfs, ebooks and simple opt-in options) 
  3. Completed registration (for webinars and or challenges)
  4. Initiate Checkout
  5. Purchase

E-commerce will also want to include View Content and Add To Cart.

Install Google Analytics

If you don’t already have Google Analytics installed on your website, now is the time to get it sorted. Having alternative tracking sources is vital at all times, but even more so now.

Set Up Conversion API

Most of Facebook tracking to date has come via the Facebook Pixel, however with the changes, the data flow from the pixel will be reduced. With Conversion API (formerly called Server Side API), it allows data to be passed from the server side (i.e. your website) to Facebook without passing via the pixel.

It will allow Facebook to get data it needs without relying on the data collected from website browsers. While it has been available for a long time, it was mostly only used by high end Facebook Ad users with big development teams. 

To make the installation process easier for non techie developers (yes hello, me too!), Facebook has partnered with some platforms to make this integration quick, easy and with no coding required. These include WordPress, WooCommerce and Shopify. They have also partnered with Zapier which will be the solution for most non techie people.

More information about Conversion API is available here.

If you are on WordPress there is a fairly straight forward process done via the Plugin - Pixel My Site

Focus on Emails

If you have been ignoring your email list, now is the time to reactivate your contacts and connections. Focus on providing high quality valuable information and building lasting relationships. Strengthen your open and click through rates. Now more than ever a complete digital approach will be required.

Consider Alternative Contact Methods

Relying on just one source for business is never good - so consider building alternative contact methods such as text messages or even snail mail.

Consider a Complete Dashboard

Facebook tracking only provides one piece of the puzzle, the same is true for Google Analytics or your payment processors. Consider setting up a complete dashboard system that provides data from multiple sources to get a complete picture of your customer journey. I’m using Oviond for my clients and will start integrating alternative data sources for them.

Get professional help with Ad Management

If you aren’t techie or this blog is leaving you feeling overwhelmed, then ensure you have a good ad management team in place to help you. Click on the link for more information on my Facebook Ad Management Services.

Apple iOS14 Updates - Changes to Facebook Ads
Natalie Alaimo

I’m a results-focused, data-driven experienced marketer who works with high-performing women in business. Specialising in Facebook Ads & 6 Figure Funnels for online course creators, coaches and consultants, I blend real-world experience, intuition with intelligent data to create outstanding results for my clients.

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