There has been a lot of talk in the digital space about Apple’s iOS 14 update and how this relates specifically to Facebook advertising. Over the years I have read and heard rumors that there would be some kind of legislation that would mark the end of Facebook ads. These, of course, never happened or had a substantial impact on the business, so Facebook advertising has struggled over the years.
But this time, however, the threat seems to be quite significant and it is clear from the response that Facebook is having towards the policy. In this post, I:
- Demystifying exactly what the iOS update entails
- Clarify how it will affect your Facebook advertising
- Help you plan and strategize in response to the update.
So read on if you want to continue getting the most out of your marketing and advertising efforts on the Facebook platform.
How iOS 14 Affects Facebook Marketers
There are many resources describing the situation with iOS 14, most notably from Facebook itself. To sum it up, Apple announced changes with iOS 14 that will impact the way Facebook is able to receive and process conversion events from tools like the Facebook Pixel. So basically any business that advertises mobile apps, as well as those that optimize, target and report web conversion events will be hit. In short, Apple requires all apps in the App Store to show a message to its users on iOS devices essentially asking the user for permission for the app to track them off the platform in several ways:
This new iOS 14 policy will prohibit the collection and sharing of certain data unless people choose monitoring on iOS 14 via this prompt. This may sound or sound relatively familiar as most websites with any form of cookie tracking on their website have rushed to establish requests in response to the GDPR requirements. If you’re not familiar with what I’m talking about, you’ve probably seen one of these on a news site or blog you’ve visited:
If iOS users choose to disable Facebook tracking, the resulting domino effect will be as follows:
- If Facebook is unable to track user behavior, the effectiveness of the tracking pixel and all its implications are greatly reduced. This results in inaccurate reports for conversions up to ineffective remarketing efforts.
- Targeting options it will be weakened. This means your ability to create hyper-personalized ads for your audience could be severely hampered.
- Less targeting options means more wasted expense and less customization of copy of the ad.
Facebook’s response to iOS 14
It is clear through Facebook’s reaction to these updates that they are very concerned, some may even say they are panicking. This update has the potential to be extremely damaging to their revenue. Second Statista.com, 79.9% of Facebook users only use the application on their mobile phone compared to 1.7% who only use it on desktop or laptop computers. The remaining 18.5% use it on both.
Of that 79.9%, there will be a large portion that will use an iOS device with the iOS 14 update. From that number of users there will be a percentage that will actually allow the app to track their data, but how many of these they will be unknown and probably won’t be a large fraction of the total. With popular documentaries like “The Social Dilemma” plus years of user data scandals, it can be assumed that most iOS users will rule out Facebook tracking.
Facebook responded by attacking Apple’s decision, saying it will negatively affect small businesses looking to advertise on their platform. Like many things these days, this sentiment is true but somewhat misleading and manipulative. Facebook takes full advantage of the large companies that advertise on their platform, and while small businesses add to that revenue, they certainly aren’t the major players in Facebook’s advertising business model. When big companies with millions of dollars to spend on advertising decide it’s no longer worth spending that money on Facebook and decide to go elsewhere, this is where the panic begins.
That said, these changes will 100% affect small businesses. In fact it will have a huge impact on all advertising activities on the platform. In a post titled Speak for small businesses, Dan Levy, Facebook’s VP of Ads and Business Products, outlines his arguments against the iOS update. In the article it states that Apple is applying the update to encourage apps to include in-app payments and subscriptions (which they would benefit from). It also explains how updating damages small businesses’ targeting ability, which is very true. Small businesses have lower budgets and needs so many options to refine your targeting possible. Additionally, Levy points out that Apple isn’t necessarily playing by its own rules. What he means by this is that Apple’s custom advertising platform isn’t subject to the new iOS 14 policy, so Apple doesn’t need to send you the prompt, but other applications do.
How does iOS 14 affect your Facebook ads?
There are several ways your ads will be affected by this update. Some that Levy pointed out are:
Businesses will be forced to turn to subscriptions and in-app payments
This repercussion is related to the fact that Apple “doesn’t play by its own rules”. Quite simply, they don’t get a cut from Facebook ad revenue or other apps with similar business models. When an app has subscriptions or in-product payments, however, they do.
Less efficient and less effective advertising
As mentioned, this comes down to being able to track events and behaviors like you did before. If done correctly, everything Facebook advertising strategies will have some form of remarketing, conversion tracking or look like generation: all of these depend on the effectiveness of the Facebook tracking pixel. If users opt out of tracking, this renders the Facebook pixel useless for that user. If all users who are on Facebook properties on an iPhone opt out of Facebook tracking, you will not be able to later advertise to those individuals via remarketing in the future on their mobile device.
Less website sales from ads
This claim is made by Facebook “studies” through their own data, so it should be taken with a grain of salt. That said, the trend towards de-personalized ads will impact those who want increase sales through Facebook. In particular, a loss of personalization that could result 60% less website sales from ads.
Reduce ad revenue for installing Facebook apps
This loss of personalization could lead to aa 50% drop in revenue resulting from Facebook app install ads. This point was made for those who create applications and promote them using Facebook ads. The point is similar to the previous one mentioned above, which implies that the loss of remarketing and customization of ads will result in huge reductions in revenue.
Increased difficulty for small businesses to reach their ideal audience, limiting growth
This refers to the ability of small businesses to not just remarketing for the users they have visited their website but also to leverage pixel data to make audiences look like.
How to plan the update for iOS 14
As I said, the main component of Advertising on Facebook that will be affected by this is pixel tracking. This means remarketing lists, conversion events, and so on. When you create a Facebook conversion campaign, the algorithm learns and optimizes to drive more desired actions for you. Some simple workarounds for updating in the near future might be:
Exclude iOS devices from campaigns with conversion goals
This is certainly not a permanent solution for running paid advertising on Facebook in the future, but doing so may give you an idea of what you can expect when the update takes effect.
Create campaigns outside the conversion goal
This would mean running web visit or other campaigns and using your website’s internal tracking to determine if a sale or conversion has occurred as a result of the ads. UTM and a variety of other tactics can be used to determine from which campaign, ad set, and ad a conversion occurred without having to rely 100% on Facebook’s tracking pixel. Conduct advertising campaigns can also be used. This strategy will not negate the impact on your retargeting audience, but it will help your ability to get results from your prospecting campaigns.
Create an additional layer or break down the conversion flow on your landing pages
What I mean by this is to require users to provide information about themselves early in the conversion process. First name, last name or email addresses can be retroactively uploaded to Facebook for generation custom audiences for retargeting purposes. This is a very indirect way of dealing with the problem, but it may allow you to rely more on people who are willing to give you some information rather than the pixels that trigger from simple page views.
The future of Facebook ads
I don’t think this will be the complete end of Facebook advertising and I am cautiously optimistic that it will have less impact than expected. Facebook is at a point where they are almost considered a “too big to fail” company. I believe there will be several workarounds in the coming months to help advertisers weather the storm. In the meantime, there are a few things you can do to prepare for the changes in order to put your business in the best possible position for advertising success.
As mentioned, starting testing and trying to rely less on the Facebook pixel is the first step. You can also explore ways to get more from other advertising channels like Google, Bing, and Linkedin, and build remarketing audiences across these platforms. If history has taught us anything it is that human beings are highly adaptable, and this is also true of technological societies. I believe there will be resolutions in 2021 to mitigate the damage caused by these updates.
- According to this source Here’s what the iOS 14 update means for your Facebook ads
- Check the more updates related to Apple Tips and Apple news now.
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