Apple iOS 14 Update: How Did It Affect Your Facebook Ads?


Privacy has become a hot topic in the past few years. From the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation to the California Consumer Privacy Act, laws and regulations aimed at protecting the privacy of consumers while on the internet have popped up in recent years, changing the way of how advertisers collect data. And it looks like it’s happened again.

In an effort to protect users’ privacy, Apple is stepping up its game with the release of iOS 14. Announced in June 2020, Apple’s newest operating system forces app developers to ask users permission to track their movements across the internet. This means users now have the ability to opt-out of ad cross tracking.

Since Apple’s announcement, many app developers had expressed their frustration over the technology giant’s actions. The loudest critic is Facebook, which claims Apple’s actions will only hurt small businesses that rely on Facebook’s Advertising Network.

But why was Facebook so upset about the privacy settings? It may have something to do with the way it tracked a user’s movements when serving ads.


How Does Social Media Ad Tracking Work?

You’re scrolling through your newsfeed on Facebook when you see an ad for a new kitchen appliance. The ad makes you stop scrolling for a minute to take a closer look. Isn’t that the same blender you were looking at a couple of weeks ago? How did Facebook know that?

The short answer is you’re being watched.

Facebook and other social media companies use something called a tracking pixel. This pixel can be placed on a number of digital assets — newsletters, display ads, or web pages. When that web page loads, it sends a signal to the advertiser’s tracking tool, letting them know that the user has viewed a page through a specific ad.

The tracking pixel provides a wealth of information such as what browser the user was using, whether they were using their phone or a desktop computer, where the user lives, and what the user did while on that page. With all that data at an advertiser’s fingertips, they can optimize their ads to get them in front of the right audience.

So as you can imagine, tracking a user’s data is important to both the advertiser, who wants to target the right audience for their products, and to Facebook, who wants the advertiser to succeed so they can keep advertising on its platform.


So How Will Apple’s New Privacy Settings Affect Facebook Advertising?

If iPhone or iPad user prevents social media companies from tracking their data, that tracking data will have a serious impact. According to Facebook, the following changes will occur:

  • 28-Day Attribution Window Eliminated: Currently, advertisers are able to see what actions a user took for 28 days before converting on the ad. It gives advertisers a deeper look into the customer journey, to understand how their ads may have played a part in that conversion. However, that attribution window is being removed. Instead, a 7-day attribution has become the default model.
  • Offsite Conversion Events: Instead of learning whether an impression on an ad resulted in an offsite conversion, only conversions will be reported on when the event occurred.
  • Targeting Reports: Although advertisers will still be able to target based on demographic and geographic segments, they will no longer see a breakdown of these factors.
  • Conversion Limits: Facebook is limiting advertisers to only 8 conversion events that will be ranked based on priority. So for example, if you have an Add to Cart and Purchase as two of your events and a user does both actions, only the Purchase event will be recorded since it is the “higher prioritization” metric.

In other words, you won’t get a full picture of how well your Facebook ads are performing.


How to Soften the Blow

It’s important to be proactive and protect your ad campaigns from falling off the face of the earth. Facebook recommends the following actions to stay ahead of the curve:

  • Verify your domain: According to Facebook, you will need to verify your domain as soon as possible to keep your pixel data running smoothly.
  • Download your data: With the attribution window shrinking, you should download your historic data. Not only the 28-day and 7-day attribution windows but also the 28-day clickthrough. Compare the data to get an understanding of your conversions will be impacted.
  • Prioritize your events: If you have multiple events, now is the time to prioritize them by the level of importance.
  • What about Google Ads?: So far, Google has remained quiet on iOS 14. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t leave it all to chance. Make sure you continue to utilize UTM tags and research your Google Analytics to fill in any gaps.


Zen Agency Can Help

If you see a drop in your ad campaigns and need assistance with your Facebook advertising, Zen Agency’s social media experts are here to help. Contact us today for more information.

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Kelly Franks

Kelly Franks has over 10 years of experience with multichannel internet marketing, specializing in content marketing, copywriting, social media marketing, search engine optimization, and pay ­per click advertising. She has been a regular contributor to the Citizens' Voice Newspaper and has developed numerous promotional campaigns to successfully maximize the visibility of both online and storefront businesses.

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