Note: This article was initially published January 19, 2021 and has been updated to reflect the new release date.
In June 2020, Apple announced a new policy update as part of iOS 14. The update was initially expected to take full effect in January 2021; Facebook has criticized the update, asserting that Apple made this policy update unilaterally without industry alignment, resulting in policies that are harmful to businesses that rely on Facebook advertising. Despite the criticism from Facebook and others, the update is now becoming a reality, expected to roll out to users starting the week of April 25th.
The main policy update in question is called the App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework. This requires all apps in the Apple Store to show the below prompt to users on devices running iOS 14, asking for permission to track their data.
If a user opts in to allow tracking, there is no change to data use and targeting capabilities. If a user opts out, Facebook will limit the data use using AEM, which restricts, aggregates, and delays event attribution. To account for having less data, FB must make changes to web advertising flows, which will impact tools and targeting across their ad system.
How will advertisers using Facebook Ads be impacted?
We all know Facebook plays quite a large role in online advertising, but iOS 14 will bring big changes to estimated results and reductions in custom audience sizes. With the limited data use and reduction of tracking capabilities, we will see fewer reported conversions and Facebook’s algorithm will have fewer signals to optimize from. Because of this, Facebook will leverage estimated results & statistical modeling to account for conversions from iOS 14 users, which is likely to drive less effective performance from prospecting audiences, and smaller retargeting audiences.
Not only will we see changes amongst Facebook tracking and conversions, but real-time reporting will no longer be supported and conversion reporting may be delayed for up to 3 days. Conversion events will be recorded according to the time they are reported on Facebook while web conversion events will be recorded based on what time the conversions occur, not the time of the corresponding ad impressions.
Consequently, there will be little to no support for breakdowns of demographic data. Conversion reporting will no longer be available at the age, gender, region, and placement level.
What is Facebook doing to address this?
While iOS 14 changes are approaching quickly, Facebook is developing a new protocol (Aggregated Event Measurement or AEM) that will adhere to the iOS 14 data use requirements. This aims to limit disruption to performance as much as possible, but Apple’s requirements will still force restricted and delayed data, so level of customization and granularity of data measurement we have now will no longer be possible.
AEM will not solve for all of the impacts of Apple’s policy update though, and advertisers will lose some level of functionality with these changes.
Key actions to take
With new changes, how can you make sure your Facebook advertising is prepared for both expected and unexpected changes?
- Update business tool set up in Facebook Business Manager
- Prepare for and identify campaign optimization strategies to diversify performance beyond existing strategies which may be less effective after rollout
- Prioritize integration of Facebook Conversions API tool to give Facebook verified, first-party inquiry, app, enroll, and start data signals to optimize of off.
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