It’s official. It’s happening. And it will affect how we use Facebook ads.
Apple’s three new app policies are expected to take full effect soon. Well, nothing to be surprised about here. The digital ads ecosystem is very dynamic and keeps changing. Whether it’s new government regulations or tech company policies, changes have occurred in the past, and will most likely happen again in the future.
But for now, let’s discuss the current changes that are going to occur due to the iOS 14.5 update. Apple announced that most likely from March 2021, it will provide users with an opt-in prompt on each app which will allow them to choose whether they consent to third-party sites like Facebook to track their user data.
In this article, we are going to discuss how Apple’s new policies will affect Facebook advertisers. And if you scroll all the way to the end, you will also find several expert strategies to ensure that you survive this latest update.
Here are some changes you should expect soon:
1. Changes in App Advertising
In May 2018, Apple introduced a concept called the ‘SKAdNetwork’ API. One of the main reasons behind coming up with this concept was to increase the privacy of users who installed mobile apps.
Well, now that it’s 2021, and the SKAdNetwork API is no longer just a concept. It’s a reality that will affect the way you use Facebook Ads.
Going forward, the SKAdNetwork API will be used by Facebook for app advertising on all iOS 14 devices, and this will either restrict, aggregate, or delay all app event data.
For example, when it comes to campaign management, event data will be restricted to a maximum of nine campaigns and five ad sets per campaign for every Facebook Ads account.
Furthermore, lift measurement will be unavailable for iOS 14 App Install and App Events campaigns.
And last but not least, reporting of events will be delayed for up to three days after an app is installed.
2. Changes in Mobile Web Advertising
The SKAdNetwork API is not the only new creation of Apple that will affect advertisers. Apple has also created the PCM (Private Click Measurement) protocol for web attribution. This protocol will strongly contribute to restricting data that businesses and platforms can access.
Let’s understand PCM with an example.
Suppose an iOS 14 user is served an ad on Instagram and is taken to a web browser to complete a purchase. Now, because of PCM, this event would be lost and not properly attributed.
Tracking users in a different geographical location will also be a challenge. For example, if a user in Spain is served an ad for a US-based company, but is then redirected to the local version of the website based on their location, the purchase would not be properly tracked.
Rest assured, Facebook will release the Aggregated Event Management tool to counter this problem. This tool will help in proper attribution of sales if an event similar to the ones mentioned above occurs.
3. Optimization and Targeting
With iOS 14.5, there will be an eight-pixel event cap per domain for optimization. This means that an advertiser will only be able to use a maximum of eight conversion events per domain for optimization.
So, if you’re an advertiser, you will need to prioritize the eight events that are of most importance to you. One thing to note here is that the eight-event cap is only capping the number of events you can optimize towards. However, you may still track more events for reporting and audience creation.
In short, the new iOS update may hinder optimization, especially if there are not enough data points. This is probably not very good news for small-scale advertisers who do not have many data points as compared to the big players. Also, as more and more people update their operating system to iOS 14.5, the size of retargeting audiences will also shrink over time.
The new default attribution window will make measurement a bit complicated as it will contribute to under-reporting on organic as well as paid channels. You should also expect an increase in dark social traffic. (If you cannot recall what ‘dark social’ is, it’s when people privately share content on social media which makes it harder to track. Dark traffic has always been there, but the new iOS update might contribute to its increment.)
When it comes to ad reporting data, there will be a three-day delay on data display for the data that comes from iOS 14.5 users. This is because of Apple’s PCM (Private Click Measurement) protocol. As explained above, PCM can restrict and delay data access.
Limited data could make running ads a little inconvenient to advertisers. For example, clients will only be able to see a few reported conversions, and sadly, the conversion event breakdowns would not even exist.
5. Business Manager Tool Setup
This section is short and simple, yet very important. The Facebook Business Manager interface will have a change in design. This needs to be done because Facebook cannot have a separate interface for Android and iOS.
It’s likely not going to be rocket science and advertisers will get used to the new changes in the Facebook Business Manager interface easily. For instance, things might move from Ads Manager settings to campaign level, or maybe, from Ads Manager to Event Manager.
How to Prepare for the iOS 14.5 Update in a Proactive Way
Actions to take now
Action 1: Verify your domains with Facebook
When you verify your domains with Facebook, this means that you’re officially set up on the platform.
There are several ways of verifying domains with Facebook. You could add a DNS TXT entry to your DNS record and confirm that you are the owner of a particular domain. You could also upload a Facebook-provided HTML file to your web directory to do this.
Adding a meta tag to the <head> section of your domain home page is also an easy way to verify domains.
Action 2: Decide which eight events for conversions you’ll track
Because of the new limit, you will have to choose the eight events you want to use to track conversions, then rank them in the Events Manager. Remember, just like domain verification, this needs to be done by the pixel owner, not the partner.
Action 3: Compare the relationship between 28-day to 7-day attribution
You should calculate the impact that the attribution window change will have on your business before Facebook removes 28-day attribution. Since the reporting will change to 7-day post click and 1-day post view, you will need to keep an account of the sales that occur from days 8 to 28.