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April 23, 2021
Gabe Hernandez

How Apple’s Updates to iOS Will Impact Facebook Ads (And How You Can Prepare)

Slipped into Tuesday’s “Spring Loaded” Apple product launch event was the announcement that the next major update to the iPhone operating system, iOS 14.5, is coming next week. While updates come and go, this particular update will provide users with data tracking pop-ups that asks users to opt-in to tracking their in-app activity. Now that we know when it’s coming, we want to provide some more background on this shift, how we think it will impact Facebook ads, and what you can do now to prepare. 

What's Changing?

Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA), an Apple assigned ID for each device, will no longer be tracked by default. Think of IDFAs as the cookie ad platforms relied upon for ad targeting. They are what power in-app advertising. This will primarily impact in-app ads, meaning Audience Network placements will be taking most of this hit.

SKAd Network will be mediating in-app advertising. It will provide click-through attribution for Publisher ID, Campaign ID, and Conversion Value but will not provide view-through attribution for apps and click-through attribution for browser and email. In short, less data for Facebook on the apps users have installed. This will primarily impact advertisers who promote apps. 

App Tracking Transparency (ATT) will be introduced. This is where the meat of the concern for most ecommerce companies stems from. Users will receive prompts from every app asking them to opt-in to tracking. Opt-outs will dramatically reduce the data signals ad platforms like Facebook use for ad targeting and Facebook’s original response tipped their hand that they don’t believe many will choose to opt-in.

Facebook Full Page Newspaper Ad Critical of Apple

This iOS Update Spells the End for Facebook Ads, Right?

We don’t know the full impact yet but we remain cautiously optimistic. 

We’ve reported on a slew of tools being deprecated as a result of these changes like Facebook Attribution, Audience Insights, and Facebook Analytics. However, each of these announcements from Facebook come with indications that replacement tools are in the works. 

We don’t know how many users will be so quick to update their operating system to even get the ATT prompts. It seems like this will be less of a tidal wave and more of a trickle. 

Finally, we’ve been pleasantly surprised with how communicative Facebook has been with information to prepare for this change. 

What Should Advertisers Expect?

Advertisers should expect less data. Facebook says the change will mean:

Delayed Reporting

The SKAdNetwork API will not support real-time reporting, and data can be delayed up to 3 days. Results will be reported based on the time that they are reported to Facebook by the SKAdNetwork API and not on the time that they actually occurred.

Estimated Results

The SKAdNetwork API will report results to Facebook aggregated at the campaign level. Statistical modeling may be used to account for results at the ad set and ad levels, unless there is a single ad or ad set in the campaign. Reporting at the creative level if there are multiple creatives for an ad will not be supported. 

No Support for Breakdowns

Due to the aggregated nature of SKAdNetwork API data, any delivery or action breakdowns for installs or in-app conversions (ex: age, gender, region, placement) will not be available. 

No Support for Current Attribution Windows

The SKAdNetwork API will not enable support for 1-day, 7-day or 28-day click-through or view-through attribution windows. Results will be reported based on the SKAdNetwork API’s attribution window and will be noted in Ads Manager in the attribution settings column. 

Audience Sizes May Decrease

Audience sizes may decrease because they may not include people on iOS 14. 

Limited Event Tracking

Facebook will implement its new Aggregated Event Measurement feature, which supports advertisers' efforts to preserve user privacy while running effective campaigns. Aggregated Event Measurement will limit the amount and type of data that advertisers can send to Facebook through tools like the Facebook pixel. Advertisers will be able to use up to 8 conversion events from a single website domain. 

What Should Advertisers Do to Prepare?

Right now the best advice we have is to make sure you're set up to get data passed through properly.

Verify Your Domain

Facebook needs to ensure that a Business Manager is authorized to set up the 8 priority conversion events and is using domain verification to do this.

Facebook Article: How to Verify Your Domain:

Set Your 8 Priority Events for Aggregated Event Measurement

Configure events on the domain to be processed using the Aggregated Event Measurement protocol. You can choose up to 8 standard events and custom conversions. Custom events and page view events are not generally available at this time. 

Facebook Article: How To Configure Events to Use Aggregated Event Measurement

Take A Deep Breath

Facebook advertising will be changing and reporting won’t be as robust, but the fundamentals of marketing haven’t changed. All advertisers will be feeling these effects. All we can do now is be prepared and adapt to the changes. 


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