Facebook Ads and Apple iOS14 Update: How to prepare?

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February 10, 2021

What The iOS14 Update is About?

Let’s start with two facts: Facebook is by far the biggest social media network gathering a 2.74 billion monthly advertising audience and over 10 million active advertisers as of the third quarter of 2020. For brands and businesses alike, Facebook has been a platform of choice providing great opportunities to get in front of large targeted audiences.

However, more recently, Facebook was faced with a considerable challenge that poses a risk to both its dominant position and advertisers: Apple’s latest operating system update, iOS 14. But what is it all about? While the iOS 14 update officially started to roll out last year, a new feature called ‘App Tracking Transparency’, will soon be added on iPhones for all the applications present on the Apple platform some time around Q1 of 2021.

Users could previously enable what was known as Limit Ad tracking (LAT) to hide their identity from advertisers and to prevent targeted ads from being displayed on their device. But, once the update is implemented, the LAT feature will become a default setting. Thus, users will have to make a conscious effort to disable LAT for apps on an individual basis. As for App developers, they will only have the possibility to turn it off by displaying a dialogue box to request permission from users, once. If the user refuses to grant permission, the app won’t be given another chance to ask unless it is deleted and reinstalled.  

The Impact of iOS14 for Facebook Ads

We can all see the obvious benefits in terms of individual data privacy. However, this could have a devastating impact on Facebook, advertisers and ultimately brands, leaving experts exposing the fragility of the cookie-based approach used for ads targeting. According to Facebook, “without personalized ads powered by their own data, small businesses could see a cut of over 60% of website sales from ads”. The giant also claimed that Apple’s move is more about “profit” than “privacy’ as it predicts that app may start charging users to balance the loss.

If you’ve ever wondered how you get to see ads in Facebook which are very similar to what you’ve been browsing on other sites, it’s because Facebook uses cross-site tracking. To do so, Facebook uses The Facebook Pixel (a 1 x 1 pixel image dropped on websites) to track users’ behaviour online by accessing their cookies. It has been proven very useful for advertisers as it allows them to attribute conversions to particular ads and create powerful retargeting campaigns. But, with Apple’s recent update that would simply not be feasible anymore if the user doesn’t turn off the LAT setting. So yes, that could drastically impact your target audience number, in other words how many people will see your ads.  

While it is a too early to assess the exact impact the update will have on Facebook Ads, as we still await for more details on this policy, specialists agree that it will have major implications and consequences. Why? Simply because allowing cookies for tracking purposes will now be subject to user’s permission. It’s not the ability to run ads that will change but rather how many people will get to see your ads. As this number may considerably reduce, our capacity to track conversions will see itself limited.

How To Prepare For the iOS14 Change?

Moving forward, how do we prepare for this major change? It is important to mention that Facebook won't be the only actor affected by the update. On the contrary every single app present on the Apple platform will be subject to this including Pinterest, Google, LinkedIn, Spotify, TikTok and YouTube. Below are a few actionable steps that you can take to overcome the situation:

  • Diversify your ad platform: more than ever this means that you should consider an integrated approach to digital marketing as it is always risky to rely solely on one single advertising platform.  

  • Verify your Facebook settings: ensure that your Facebook ads account has the conversion API set up as well as auto-advanced matching 'on'.

  • Investigate on iOS users' impact on your brand: understand how it affects your business by looking at the proportion of leads, sales and other key metrics attributed to iOS devices. You can do this by using Google analytics or Facebook reporting tools.

  • Capitalise on email marketing campaign: it is still one of the most direct ways to reach out to your audience. Start dedicating more time to building your email lists and start improving copy and creatives by using advanced segmentation as well as personalisation.

Our teams are here to help you navigate any hurdle in these uncertain times. We are dedicated to assist, advise, and provide you with integrated strategies underpinned by market and brand demand so you can stay ahead of the curve. Feel free to drop us a line if you would like assistance and find new tactics to grow every day.

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