While surfing the web, privacy is crucial; almost everyone out there can agree on that. And at the time of its release, in September of 2020, the iOS 14 update was mainly focused on just this. It gave iOS users the ability to control the amount of data they share with advertisers and publishers while using their apps.
Social media apps such as Facebook and Instagram, which are heavily dependent on advertising, were severely affected by this update. This was to the point where Facebook’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg himself took a stance against the update. Apple CEO Tim Cook didn’t shy away from this, however and fired some shots back at the platform, calling it a “business that is built on misleading users, on data exploitation, on choices that are no choices at all…”.
Technically speaking, this update negatively impacted the targeting, reporting, and even optimisation of Facebook ads. And in this article, we’ll explain what changes Apple implemented and how you can adapt to them as a Facebook advertiser.
The aftermath of the iOS 14 update
Simply put, through this update, Apple has significantly limited the amount of data advertisers can get from their users. Apple relies on a system called IDFA, which stands for Identifier for Advertisers. It’s a randomly generated ID number that is individually assigned to iOS devices. It enables advertisers and app developers to closely monitor the behaviour of users on their apps.
Starting from April 26, 2021, however, users with the iOS 14.5 update fully installed will have their IDFA turned off by default. And each time they open an app, they will be greeted with the above prompt.
According to a statistic done by analytics firm Flurry, only 4% of users in the US have opted into app tracking after installing the iOS 14.5 update. So, it should come as no surprise that advertising on Facebook after the update has been rough, really rough.
In order to help marketers, such as yourself, manoeuvre around the policies included in this update, we put together this article which highlights some of the more common issues that people faced in the past and still face to this very day.
Faulty pixel-based reporting
Advertisers on Facebook heavily rely on the conversion metrics provided to them by the Facebook pixel, such as ROAS and CPA. These metrics are used to determine the performance of a campaign. The moment Apple started rolling out the iOS 14.5 update, advertisers on Facebook began to notice exceptionally inaccurate metrics.
Moreover, within the iOS 14.5 update, Apple introduced the Private Click Measurement (PCM) protocol. That protocol enforces a three-day delay in data collection for iOS users. This leads to fewer than usual conversions being reported in the Facebook Ads Manager.
And while it is only natural to see a falloff in performance after such an update, one would expect the algorithms of Facebook would eventually catch on. However, that, unfortunately, doesn’t seem to be the case. Facebook is continuously attempting to find solutions for this problem, but nothing seems to be working, really.
Lookalike audiences and retargeting are two of the most important concepts upon which targeting is based. They were heavily affected by the iOS 14.5 update for one obvious reason: more and more iOS users are opting out of tracking. Advertisers’ retargeting audiences withered to nothing. Even those who had heavily relied on retargeting people who visited their websites were hurt.
Then there are lookalike audiences which are primarily based on data provided by pixel conversions (leads, purchases, that sort of thing). And ever since this data became inaccurate, the lookalike audiences weren’t lookalike much anymore.
Both of these issues unsurprisingly hurt the ad performance of advertisers on Facebook, setting them in a never-ending loop of bad data followed by lousy performance.
Most advertisers on Facebook relied on the platform’s algorithm to better optimise their campaigns. It works as follows: you feed it data from your ads (conversions), and it figures out to whom to advertise based on the profile of people who have already converted.
Then came iOS 14, and with it came Apple’s limit of eight “conversion events” per website for Facebook advertisers. This meant less data for the algorithm to work with, which led to a less efficient optimisation process. At the time of its release, the iOS 14 update significantly hurt small advertisers. That’s because they didn’t have much data with which to work in the first place due to their small budgets.
iOS 14 Facebook ads – How to adapt to the update
iOS 14 Facebook ads tips: Rely on the conversions API
Most of the reporting issues after this update are happening within the Facebook pixel. We recommend that you implement the Conversions API instead. It enables advertisers to collect data directly from the server to the Ads Manager.
Make sure to check Facebook’s guide on how to implement the Conversions API.
iOS 14 Facebook ads tips: Verify website’s domain
To avoid any future problems with collecting data from your website campaigns, we, and Facebook themselves, recommend that you verify your website’s domain as soon as possible. You need to do this verification on the effective top-level domain plus one (eTLD+1). For example, for www.books.jasper.co.uk, books.jasper.co.uk and jasper.co.uk, the eTLD+1 is jasper.co.uk.
The easiest way to verify your domain is to add a DNS TXT entry to your DNS record. The process goes as follows:
- Find your way to the DNS record section of your domain host.
- Add the TXT entry to your DNS record.
- Add @ to the Host field only if required by your domain host.
- Click on the Verify button found at the bottom of the DNS verification tab. In most cases, such a change only takes a few minutes to go through. However, some domain hosts take up to 72 hours to fully update.
NB: Make sure to leave the TXT entry in your DNS record since some domain hosts periodically check it.
In case you are still confused about how to do this, we recommend that you check Facebook’s guide to verify all your domains.
iOS 14 Facebook ads tips: Utilise re-engagement audiences
Facebook still collects loads and loads of data based on user behaviour without relying on app conversions and such. You can count on this data for re-engagement audiences. You would be targeting people who have already interacted with your Page or content in the past (liked a post, watched a video, clicked on an ad, etc.).
iOS 14 Facebook ads tips: Implement user-generated content
If your targeting is strictly limited, you can try to improve the performance of your ads by working on the creative. There are a plethora of different types of user-generated content that you can rely on. That user-generated content ranges from product reviews to unboxings. We recommend that you test this content against each other and see how your audience responds.
iOS 14 Facebook ads tips: Prioritise your conversions events
Using the Events Manager, set up eight prioritised conversion events for each domain you have. Facebook’s Aggregated Event Measurement limits domains to only eight conversions events which can be prioritised for optimisation. At first, Facebook themselves will rank which events they believe are most relevant to your business model and objectives based on your activity. But as is the case with most parameters of Facebook advertising, you can always tweak it all by yourself.
Need help adapting to the new iOS 14 Facebook ads?
The iOS 14 Facebook Ads update has undoubtedly affected all kinds of advertisers and businesses. Adapting to the changes can be a challenging endeavour. If you feel like you can’t do it alone, fret not, as we can help. Contact us today, and we’ll get in touch to establish a new, up-to-date Facebook Ads checklist and strategy for you.