iOS 14.5 and Facebook Advertising: What We Know So Far

May 6, 2021 | Social Media

Apple's rollout of iOS 14.5 includes a privacy feature that Facebook warns could weaken ad effectiveness. Here's answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about iOS 14.5 and how it could affect your campaigns.

A data tracking screen on iOS 14.5

Apple’s new iOS 14.5 update has a number of cool upgrades for iPhone and iPad users, including mask support for Face ID and enhancements to Siri, but it also includes a new privacy feature called ATT, or App Tracking Transparency, that has the digital marketing world in a stir.

ATT now requires apps like Facebook and LinkedIn to ask for permission before tracking users’ data across apps or websites owned by other companies.

Apple’s stated goal is transparency, but Facebook argues the feature will prevent it from serving up more targeted advertising, raising costs for small businesses that advertise on the platform. Facebook has even said it could be forced to begin charging for the service if enough users opt out of data sharing (although not everyone buys that).

While we here at Informatics are staying neutral on the change—we love our iPhones and we love Facebook—we’re watching the iOS 14.5 rollout closely to answer your questions on how it may impact your digital campaigns.

The truth is that it’s complicated, and no one has all of the answers yet, but here’s our answers to a few of the most common questions we’ve received:

How will this affect ad (re)targeting?

By limiting the tracking and sharing of data, Apple is impeding the work of Facebook’s pixel, which is a tool that follows the actions, or conversion events, users take on your website or app. Facebook ads designed to “optimize, target and report” on those conversion events will be affected by the iOS 14.5 update, according to the company.

By knowing less about users’ actions, such as adding products to their cart or making a purchase, it will in theory be harder to serve up targeted ads (assuming enough iOS users opt out of tracking by Facebook). The company will also “have a harder time demonstrating that product sales were tied to specific ads,” according to one source speaking to Wired.

Note that this won’t affect Facebook ads based on data collected from within the app, or Facebook’s other apps, like Instagram.

How is Facebook responding to iOS 14.5?

In response to the new tracking limitations, Facebook has said it will begin processing pixel conversion events on iOS 14 devices using what it calls Aggregated Event Measurement. This protocol limits domains to reporting eight standard conversion events using Facebook pixels when accessed via iPhone or iPad.

In practice, that means you’ll need to decide which website events are most important for your business to track, instead of being able to track any event you like. For example, “view content,” “add to cart,” “initiate checkout,” and “purchase” are going to be events crucial for ecommerce businesses.

Facebook has also indicated that it will now only show verified domain owners the events and custom conversions received from Facebook pixels placed on their website. While verifying your domain is already a best practice, it is now critical for domains that integrate pixels from multiple businesses or personal ad accounts.

According to the company, “While verified domain owners will see all these events, the only events they can use for ad optimization and reporting are events they can access from their own Business Manager Account."

One final change to take note is Facebook’s ad attribution setting. Facebook is no longer supporting 28-day click-through, 28-day view-through, or 7-day view-through. All ads will now default to a 7-day click-through.

How can we avoid ad disruptions?

The first thing you’ll want to do is verify your domain in Facebook’s Business Manager. This tells the company that you own the website in question, and that you have the authority to create and prioritize conversion events for the domain.

There are three different ways to do this:

  1. Meta-tag Verification
  2. HTML File Upload
  3. DNS Verification

The good news is it only requires one method to verify, so you can choose which one works best for your website and your needs.

After verifying your website, you’ll want to set up your eight conversion events in Facebook Events Manager. Once these events are created, you can prioritize the order in which these events tracked, from the most important to least important.

Finally, you’ll want to review your current ads and ad sets to see if any have been paused because of the iOS update, due to their use of non-standard events. If so, you'll want to update those so they can be relaunched.

When viewing your Ads Manager dashboard, Facebook provides a Resource tab that should provide a to-do list of the items listed above that should help make the switch as painless as possible.

Of course, this is still a developing discussion in the world of digital advertising, and much remains to be seen regarding the full impact of Apple's privacy features and Facebook advertising. We'll continue to follow the latest developments, and will post updates here.

In the meantime, if you have questions about your Facebook or digital advertising strategy in the wake of the iOS rollout, reach out to us—we'll dig in to find the answers you need.