In June 2020, Apple made an announcement that would change the world of performance advertising as we know it. The company announced its new iOS 14 AppTrackingTransparency policy, which will require all apps in the app store that engage in Apple’s definition of tracking to display a prompt to iOS 14 users. This prompt will ask the user permission for the app to track their activities across apps and websites owned by other companies.

The announcement was huge for the industry, for agencies, clients and small businesses alike, who all rely on website data to reach their target audiences effectively. Specifically, the update means iOS 14 users now have the option to opt out of having their web and in-app activity tracked. Prior to this change, the user could be tracked from engagement right through to final conversion on social platforms like Facebook. These events will still take place but without the full visibility for the advertiser of what actions were taken and by how many people. It’s worth noting all events will still be reported for those who choose to opt in on receipt of the prompt as well as non-iOS users. 

On April 20, Apple released a further update confirming that effective April 26 2021, “with the upcoming public release of iOS 14.5, iPadOS 14.5, and tvOS 14.5, all apps must use the AppTrackingTransparency framework to request the user’s permission to track”. With the rollout date finalized, the impact on web advertising will start to materialize and we as advertisers need to prepare for how these changes will impact our Facebook advertising. 

Below, we share five ways to help you prepare for the upcoming changes.

1. Facebook advertisers need to verify their domains and choose their eight priority events

Facebook was proactive in their approach to prepare advertisers for the iOS ATT framework. In this post, Facebook outlines how their Aggregated Event Measurement approach will “help you measure campaign performance in a way that is consistent with consumers’ decisions about their data”. Now, it’s crucial for web advertisers to assess their current setup and verify their domains. Each domain will be limited to eight conversion events and advertisers will need to both select and rank their chosen eight in priority. Note: no changes to the pixel or Conversions API are required in preparation for this.

2. Prepare for seed audience sizes to decrease

For most web advertisers, their strategy includes some form of remarketing and / or lookalike audience targeting efforts. The introduction of the ATT prompt, and thus iOS 14 users’ ability to ‘opt out’ of being fully tracked, means the ability to retarget them based on their website activities will be reduced. Without certain events being fully recorded, advertisers can expect their website custom audience sizes to decrease and see costs rise as a result.

However, Facebook has shared that native targeting options such as age, gender, location, detailed targeting will not be affected. In the case of lookalike audiences, seed audience sizes will be affected but the actual size of the lookalike will not, therefore, unlikely to result in noticeable changes in performance. It is recommended that web advertisers explore alternative ways of leveraging their first-party data such as a CAPI (Conversion API integration) to limit the loss of data.

3. Assess your ad quality ranking and how you’re speaking to your audiences

With data collection being more affected than ever, so will the ability to find the people you want to target. As such it’s important to be more tailored in your ads and speak directly to the consumer. For example, start to assess the need to speak to different age segments differently and test tailoring your creative and messaging to each to understand which resonates the most with your audiences.

4. Anticipate a delay in reporting 

For iOS 14 users who opt in to having their activities tracked once they receive the prompt, all events will be reported accurately. For those who opt out, this is where Facebook’s Aggregated Event Measurement comes into play. It is designed to allow advertisers to understand their campaign performance via the measurement of web events for iOS 14 users. In the case where AEM is used for measurement, data will be restricted, aggregated and delayed. Further, in the case of a user who opts out but completes multiple steps in their journey, only the highest ranked event will be reported to Facebook.

Attribution will also be affected mostly due to mandatory delays in data reporting and as a result, Facebook has updated their rules on attribution. As of January this year, the following attribution windows are now supported:

  • 1-day click
  • 7-day click
  • 1-day click and 1-day view
  • 7-day click and 1-day view

It’s key to note that the 28-day click/view and 7-day view windows have been deprecated. For Web Advertisers, the default setting for new ad sets has now been updated to a 7-day click and 1-day view, and it is now up to the advertiser to amend this at the build stage as required. This will also be updated to a 7-day click once the prompt is enforced.

5. Implement Facebook’s Conversion API Integration (CAPI)

With the move towards a ‘cookie-less’ world and the latest impact of this update, integrating the Facebook CAPI offers a direct server-to-server connection, which will help advertisers in the long term. 

Traditionally, when an event is triggered, the Facebook pixel sends data via your web browser back to Facebook but the ability to do this will be impacted by browsers’ deprecation of third party cookies. Facebook’s CAPI integration allows the ability for web events to be sent directly from the client’s server to FB. Whilst this integration won’t solve the iOS 14 implications, it will help preserve the ability to share data more accurately particularly on the lower funnel activities.

With this industry change, the above denotes some of the ways that Facebook web advertisers can prepare for the changes. With a long roadmap of changes and implications ahead, it’ll be important to stay on top of the latest updates and adapt accordingly.

If you are interested in taking your Facebook advertising to the next level, let’s chat. We’re here to help!