How the iOS 14 Update Will Affect Your Facebook Ads

By Emily Paulsen / February 17, 2021 / Advertising

In the ongoing battle over user data, Apple announced in June 2020 that iOS 14 would allow users to completely turn off app tracking.

This update will prevent apps like Facebook, Google, and more from collecting user data and using it to send them personalized ads.

While there is a unanimous agreement in the marketing world that safer, more secure data collection is beneficial to publishers and users alike, Apple’s move is an unprecedented action against data collection.

Soon after the announcement, companies like Facebook launched campaigns against the move.

The social media platform insists that the loss of data and the inability to run personalized ads would be detrimental to small businesses who rely on these ads to sell their products and services.

Because of this pushback, the rollout of iOS 14 was delayed from a previously expected August 2020 launch and is now available to the iPhone 6S model and newer in 2021.

With the dramatic tracking changes that will without a doubt come with this shift, it’s important for marketers to adjust their tracking strategies and data collection expectations prior to the iOS 14 rollout.

These changes will affect campaigns that drive traffic to apps differently than those that drive traffic to websites.

The below information outlines specifically how these changes will impact ads that send users to a brand’s website.

How Facebook Performance Data Will Change With iOS 14

Shorter Lookback Windows

Conversion lookback windows will be shortened to a maximum of a seven-day click and one-day view lookback window.

This is a significantly shorter period of time than the 28-day click and view lookbacks currently in place.

The change will decrease the overall amount of data that companies are able to analyze, particularly for companies who traditionally have longer conversion lead times.

Delayed & Estimated Results

Real-time reporting will not be available with iOS 14, and data may be delayed up to three days. Once this data is available, it will be aggregated at the campaign level.

Facebook says that statistical modeling may be used to account for conversions at the ad set and ad level but has yet to provide information on what this modeling would entail.

Limited Data Breakdowns

Delivery and action breakdowns, such as region, age, gender, and placement will not be supported.

This means that advertisers will not be able to tell if their ads perform better among women vs. men, in specific geographical locations, or on specific types of placements (stories vs newsfeed ads, etc.).

Pixel & Conversion Action Limits

Ad accounts will be limited to one pixel and eight conversion events per domain.

At the beginning, Facebook will pick the eight conversion events that it believes are most relevant to the business.

But you will have the ability to customize these in your events settings.

Smaller Audience Sizes

As people opt out of tracking, the size of the audience brands will be able to target will decrease.

This could mean that over the next several months, the same number of advertisers will be targeting smaller groups of people. Thus increasing competition and increasing the costs necessary to reach the same targeted audiences.

Additionally, retargeting audiences will diminish as app and website tracking abilities may be lost.

How to Prepare for iOS 14-Driven Changes

Preparing for the shifts in targeting and data collection in advance will help make the transition to iOS 14 as smooth as possible.

We recommend making the following adjustments as soon as possible:

Consolidate Conversions & Transition to Aggregated Event Measurement 

If you have more than eight conversion events in your account, we recommend combining similar actions into single conversions in order to get your total down to eight or fewer.

Some of our clients have combined their multiple form submission goals into one, merged click to call and click to email goals, consolidated download-based goals, and more.

Once the goals are combined, set up Aggregated Event Measurement. In the data source settings, select the new Aggregated Event Measurement tab and click “Configure Web Events.”

Aggregated Event Measurement graph shown for Facebook

Then, select your domain and select the custom events in order of importance. Once it has been saved, it can take up to 48 hours for these events to begin tracking.

It’s important to remember if you have campaigns that are optimized for conversions to switch those conversions over to the new Aggregated Event Measurement version of your conversions. 

Verify Your Domain

Facebook recommends verifying your domains regardless of the iOS 14 rollout, but this will be especially important as iOS 14 limits each domain to one pixel.

Verifying your domain ensures that there is only one pixel per domain and validates that your business manager account is authorized to run ads for your domain.

Share Assets with Partners & Ad Accounts

Since Facebook Ads will be limiting advertisers to eight conversion actions and one pixel per domain, brands will need to make sure that their pixel is shared with the respective ad account and advertising partners (like an agency) that may need to use the pixel.

Take this time to ensure the domain has been shared with your partners as well.

To share a pixel, navigate to the Business sSttings in Facebook, then scroll down to Data Sources. Here, you will see the option to click Pixels. From here, move to Partners and Connected Assets. Here is where you will check to see if any agencies your brand is working with are listed under Partners, and that your account is connected under Shared Settings.  

Facebook Business Settings partner pixel sharing tab

Facebook Business Settings ad account connect section

To share a domain while in Business Settings in Facebook, scroll down until you see Brand Safety, then select Domains. From there, navigate to Connected Assets and share your (verified) domain with any advertising partner who runs ads to the domain on your behalf. 

More Smaller Campaigns vs. Fewer Larger Campaigns

With performance data being aggregated at the campaign level, it will be more difficult to tell which ad sets or ads are driving performance if there are many types of ads in the same campaigns.

Breaking up large campaigns into smaller ones by message, audience, location, and more can help you better assess which campaigns and targeting types are driving revenue for you moving forward.

Providing you with information to use when allocating budget and other resources is important to the success of any campaign.

Up Your UTM Tagging Game

Although Facebook may not be able to report on certain user details, you may still be able to gather some of this data from Google Analytics.

Creating a streamlined UTM tagging strategy will help you pass campaign, ad set, and ad-level information into Google Analytics for analysis — in a platform that will still allow up to 20 conversions and a 90-day lookback window.

Closely Monitor Facebook Ads Performance

With changes in tracking abilities, data analysis, and conversion tracking, it will be more important than ever to ensure that you’re consistently monitoring and reporting on the ROI generated by Facebook Ads.

Marketing experts across the industry are expecting a wide variety of changes, from increased competition due to smaller audiences, to decreased CPMs as advertisers leave the platform.

But what we can all agree on is that the next several months will be a rollercoaster for companies who advertise on Facebook.

Work with a Marketing Team to Assess the Efficacy of Facebook Ads in 2021

The best thing that brands can do to combat the effects of the iOS 14 update are to prepare in advance and monitor campaigns closely.

It’s also just as important for brands to keep an open line of communication with their marketing teams on the effectiveness of Facebook ads.

It’s possible that many advertisers will find that without actionable data for optimizing and targeting, Facebook Ads will simply no longer be a viable advertising platform. And if that’s the case, your digital marketing team will help identify the next best alternative.

Our digital marketing team has their finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the industry and what impacts your brand might see because of the updates.

To learn more about the iOS 14 update and how we can help prepare your brand for the change, contact us today.