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Run Facebook Ads? Will they still work with Apple’s iOS14 update?

Date: January 2021

You may have heard some news floating around about Apple and Facebook being in a bit of a boxing match… Facebook even used full page ads in newspapers to share their view on the argument!

Here’s what’s happening and how it could hugely impact your business, if you rely on Facebook advertising as part of your marketing strategy.

What started it?

In late 2020, Apple announced that their new operating system, iOS14, gave users the option to choose whether they want an app (like Facebook) to track what they do off the app. Apple has called this ‘Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT)’.

Tim Cook (Apple CEO) tweeted a picture in December of what iOS14 users may start to see – a notification from the app they’re using asking if they want to allow the app to track their activity across other companies’ apps and websites.

Apple’s view is that users should be given more choice about their privacy, browsing history and how apps track their activities when not using an app.

How does this impact Facebook and your business?

Ever seen a Facebook ad for the exact product you were looking at on a website the day before? This is only able to be shown to you because Facebook is tracking what you do off the app.

Companies can set up Facebook ads to show only to their website visitors when they next log in to Facebook. These ads are called Remarketing ads. And with Apple’s new software update, these types of ads are going to be a lot trickier for advertisers to do.

If Facebook ads are part of your marketing strategy, you’ll know the impact this will have on your campaigns. We’ve seen Remarketing ads recently for our clients getting around 25 x Return on Investment – so this represents a significant value! And of course, with the change, it will be harder to measure results/conversion events such as purchases, page views, initiate checkout actions and so on.

Here’s a staggering statistic from Tinuiti (2020): “Currently about 70% of iOS users allow apps to track their off-app activity. After the iOS14 changes, it is estimated that this number will drop to 10-15%”.

What is Facebook doing about it?

Facebook is starting to roll out something called ‘Aggregated Event Measurement’. Facebook says that ‘it is designed to help you measure campaign performance in a way that is consistent with consumers’ decisions about their data’.

Whilst this is all new and slowly rolling out, we’re still learning about it ourselves. But here’s what we know so far about this new tool:

  • You’ll only be able to track up to 8 conversion events (before you could track around 15-20!)
  • You are able to choose which 8 conversion events you want to track. You can change these events at any time, but there may be a 3 day delay before they’re ready to use
  • It will be in accordance with the new iOS14 App Tracking Transparency framework.

What steps to take NOW

If you are a Facebook advertiser, you need to take steps now to be prepared. To have use of the new ‘Aggregated Event Measurement’ tool you’ll need to:

  1. Set up Business Manager – You need to have a Business Manager account. If you don’t have one already, here’s how to set one up: https://www.facebook.com/business/help/1710077379203657?id=180505742745347
  2. Verify your Domain – Facebook have shared a useful video on how to do this on this page: https://developers.facebook.com/docs/sharing/domain-verification (you may need to ask your website developer to help if you don’t feel comfortable with this process)
  3. Verify your Business – Another useful article from Facebook on how to do this: https://www.facebook.com/business/help/2058515294227817?id=180505742745347

Once you have done the above steps, it’s a case of keeping an eye out for more updates from Facebook on how to set up Aggregated Event Measurement. The roll out of iOS14 is expected in February 2021. We’ll be sure to update this blog as soon as we can with further info!

Other things to note

This iOS14 change will only affect those with Apple products running this software. However, this is a huge proportion of users, so it’s important to be prepared for the change
Both of the following advertising strategies will not directly be affected, although the measurement of these ads won’t be as in-depth as before:

  • Advertising to Facebook users based on their demographics and interests
  • Advertising to Facebook users based on their Facebook-based events/activities, such as video views, page/post interaction etc
  • Although the real ‘beef’ has been between Facebook and Apple, this iOS14 change will of course affect other third-party apps that rely on data.

Final thoughts

Although the iOS14 update is a worrying prospect for many agencies and businesses, Facebook is coming up with ways to get around it. And it’ll just take time to learn it and refine it. Technology is constantly evolving, so we should all expect and prepare for changes like this!

And lastly, Facebook shouldn’t be your only marketing channel. Whilst it’s a fantastic tool, you are essentially renting a space with your Facebook page, which could potentially be taken away from you at any time. We highly recommend ensuring you use other methods of marketing that you have more control over. Such as having a well optimised website (SEO) and email marketing (making sure you’re being GDPR compliant).

If you need further assistance with Facebook Advertising, or to chat about your marketing strategy as a whole, please do get in touch. We’d be delighted to help.

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