Last April 26, 2021, Apple has started its roll out of its latest and most controversial iOS update that will surely affect the way business owners execute their campaigns on Facebook Ads. With this new iOS 14.5 update, Apple will require that all apps show a prompt asking permission from users to track their digital activities. While this may be a good initiative to protect the users’ privacy, it will greatly affect the way ads will perform over the next few weeks.
WHAT DOES THE UPDATE MEAN?
This Apple update gives the user the option to be tracked by apps, such as Facebook, with their off-page activities, such as visiting other websites, buying on ecommerce sites, or downloading and using other apps. This may sound good for users, however, businesses and small entrepreneurs who rely on Facebook Ads will have a bigger challenge when it comes to checking how effective their Facebook Campaigns are because of the following changes.
It is said based on a survey, with this new update on the requirement of prompts, around 70% of users may opt out of being tracked by these apps (such as Facebook), which can affect the delivery of targeted ads to those users, and the reporting of the ads performance.
HOW DOES THIS UPDATE AFFECT ADVERTISERS?
If you are running conversion campaigns, this update will affect these three major pillars of Facebook Advertising, Optimization, Targeting and Reporting of Data, however, we cannot quantify at the moment how much change this will be since the update is very new and we have yet to see actual data comparison from advertisers.
If Facebook is not able to track user behavior, Facebook Pixel cannot effectively gather data for your conversion or remarketing efforts. The Pixel, Facebook’s tracking script, will have a harder time populating a list of users that have already visited your website, making it harder for you to show your ad to your past website visitors.
One of the factors of the success of an ad is how much the ad’s content resonates with the intended audience. With this update, Facebook’s targeting abilities will also be weakened as the depth of personalization that comes with knowing users’ activities are limited as well. These actions will result in a higher ad spend, or less efficient ad spend since advertisers will have a limited ability to create personalized ad copies for each specific user.
The decreased ability of ads to be shown to its intended users will affect website sites for those who run purchase conversion campaigns. The reduced personalization of ads may result in 60% fewer website sales from ads.
HOW DOES IT AFFECT DATA REPORTING?
When it comes to data reporting, the iOs14 update will cause a 3-day delay on data display for the data that will come from iOs14.5 users. Advertisers have to be aware that the current conversion data is 3 days behind from displaying the latest results, when planning on optimizing, scaling or planning their next subsequent ads. Website “events” to be aggregated, or combined. While some websites have standard events such as “Add to Cart” or “Initiate Checkout” will all be counted as a total conversion instead of having a breakdown of the conversion that happens at each stage of the buyer’s journey. This will greatly cost inaccurate ad planning for the next ad since we will be in the blind as to which stage of the buyer journey needs help with ads.
Attribution settings are also affected by this Apple Update. According to Facebook Business Center “The attribution setting is a finite period of time during which conversions can be credited to your ads and used to inform campaign optimization. Our system will learn from the conversions that occur during this time period and help improve performance by showing your ads to those people who find them most relevant.”
Facebook ads will be changing the way that they attribute (or credit) purchases. Initially, Facebook has attributed the website sale to the date of the user’s last interaction with the ad. To demonstrate, if a user interacted with the Ad on a Sunday, then purchased the item on Thursday, the conversion will be assigned to Sunday. Now, with the new update, the purchase event will be reflected on the day of purchase, which is Thursday. So where does the problem lie in this?
Some users do not purchase right at the moment when they see an ad. However, when they come back to the site on their own time a few days after, and decide to purchase it, the sale will be tagged as an ads sale since it is within 7 days from when they last saw the ad. Ad tracking will also reflect data collected only within 7 days, so purchases made after Day 8-28 will no longer be credited to the ad.
Data directs our decisions, and with the lessened integrity of the data we are seeing because of the latest Apple update, planning for your ads next steps will be challenging.
WHAT CAN WE DO AS ADVERTISERS
Whether you are a small business owner using Facebook Ads, or an experienced media buyer, we will all be affected by this update. Here are some of the things we can do NOW to address this problem.
1. Verify Your Domain On Facebook
If you plan on still using Facebook Pixel to track your off app activities such as website visits, website purchases, lead form registrations, or app installs, you need to verify your domain on Facebook.
2. Decide What Conversion Events You Want To Track
“Events” are described as any activity that happens on either your website or an app. Apple’s update has limited the conversion events to only eight events. So you have to choose which ones really matter to your bottom line. You can refer to this List of Events and this guide on how to choose which event is relevant to you.
To determine which events to track:
- Know your business goals: Do you want people to view a page, sign up online, or purchase?
- Consider the path that your customer would take within your website to accomplish these goals.
- Determine the events on your website that correspond to this path.
- Select corresponding standard events that can be used for targeting, optimisation, measurement and insights.
- If you wish to measure across apps, web and offline, try to be consistent with the events selected. Use ads reporting to understand the customer journey across channels.
3. Explore Other Ways Of Retargeting Within Facebook
Just as we can show our ads to people who have visited our site, there are other types of audiences that we can bring back to your page. You can target people who have previously messaged your page, interacted with your posts, even those who have saved your posts to their collections!
4. Support Your Facebook Ads Data With Google Analytics Or E-Commerce Platform Data
At the end of the day, it’s Total Sales / Total Ad Spend. We will have to look at our campaigns from a more macro perspective to see if our overall efforts are helping us reach our sales targets. Business owners should also learn to use Google Analytics, and your shopping platform data to support the data that is not reflected on Facebook Ads.
5. Content Marketing Is Still King!
Never underestimate the power of a good content strategy. Content marketing builds trust and loyalty among your audience. While Facebook Ads are considered outbound marketing actions, content marketing falls under inbound. When you have a solid content campaign, while time consuming, you can definitely see your audience grow because people who are drawn to your page value the relevant and valuable information you provide. With all the changes this Apple iOS update will do to Facebook Ads, the best we can do is adapt and change the way we work. While Facebook is still trying to find a way to get back at Apple (in the future they may charge users to download or keep their app if they decide to opt out of tracking), users of their advertising platform will have to manage their expectations, find detours to ineffective or obsolete methods of executing campaigns, or consider investing in their inbound marketing strategy to accompany their paid outbound campaigns.