8 Things to Know About iOS 14 and Facebook

What the Update Means for your Ad Strategy

It’s the modern-day clash of the titans as Apple and Facebook once again go head-to-head, this time over Apple’s latest iOS update… 14 (iOS 14.5, iPadOS 14.5, tvOS 14.5). While it’s not exactly something new, this time it’s all about user privacy and tracking. Apple is on a quest to limit automated tracking – app users will now need to opt- in or opt-out of tracking, giving user a say in how their data is collected and used. Specifically, In Facebook (and Facebook-owned Instagram), users will see a popup screen asking permission for any apps and websites owned by that company to “Allow Tracking” or “Ask App Not to Track.” Users now have more control, allowing them to take a more active role in how their data is used and how they are tracked.

That seems like it would be a good thing, right? For the user, sure. But for the business who has to this point relied on Facebook advertising to bring in new leads, customers or sales? Not so much. 

Let’s look at eight things you need to know about this iOS Update and what it means for Facebook ads.


1. What’s the big deal about an iOS update? If you’re an Apple user, you know these iOS updates happen all the time. So what’s all the fuss about this one – magic number 14? It’s all about data tracking permissions. Impacts ability to track events and behavior in response to an ad. Impacts the tracking pixel, targeting and retargeting, conversion and look-alike, even reporting, all of which depend on the tracking pixel. If a user opts out of tracking, the pixel is, in essence, useless. And if someone opts out, they will not see your ads anymore. The pixel is the star in this controversy. 

Here’s what’s happening in a nutshell: On the app’s page in the App Store, users will learn from the developers how they plan to use your data, what they will collect, as well as what their privacy policy is. Apps will now have to get your permission to track you (location, email, advertising IDs, events) by you taking the action of opting-in. 

Right now, this tracking issue is a factor mainly on mobile… if someone is taking action on a Facebook ad while on their desktop or laptop, the tracking pixel will (for now and presumably) still work as designed. But, it’s important to understand that nearly three-quarters of all Facebook users access the app from a mobile device, as opposed to not even 2% accessing from a laptop or desktop. The percentage of people accessing the app from both – mobile and desktop – is not even 20%. So it stands to reason that mobile apps will be the hardest hit. Retargeting campaigns will be impacted, as well as the  size of audience and how an ad campaign performs. 

2. Facebook seems to be panicking. Or at least is concerned enough to launch a public reaction to the update, including a toolkit to help businesses share posts and videos (using #SpeakUpForSmall), along with a sort of petition page where users can share their stories of how the update will negatively impact their business. Facebook is concerned about the impact on small businesses, citing, “Apple’s new iOS14 policy requires apps to show a discouraging prompt that will prohibit collecting and sharing information that’s essential for personalized advertising, unless users opt-in to Apple’s terms.” This will be done through a popup asking users to allow tracking of app and website activity, claiming it will lead to a better ad experience and also support the important small business segment. It will mean ad campaigns will be less effective, there will be less personalization and a predicted revenue drop of 50%. 


3. Small businesses will feel the pinch the most, not the large corporations with millions of dollars in ad spend (which is an interesting perspective in which to frame #2, above). This update impacts the ever-important tracking pixel, targeting, retargeting, and smaller budgets, so businesses will need to optimize and target as much as possible. In essence, on Facebook, it will be harder to reach the target audience. The best alternative may prove to be turning to other advertising platforms.


4. There will be fewer personalized ads for users, especially those who opt out of tracking. Why? Because marketers will have fewer targeting options. Facebook will no longer see what actions those users take, including visiting a website, becoming a lead or making a purchase.


5. Event limits are in place. There is now a limit of eight conversion events for a Facebook ad (pixel, custom conversions), including the ever important view webpage, add to cart, view content, purchase. Someone setting up an ad campaign will get to set and prioritize eight events per domain. Regardless of what the lead or customer does, Facebook will only report on the event that has been designated as the highest priority, even if multiple events happened.


6. Marketers will be scrambling for effective workarounds. One such workaround would be to target ads to Android only, but that immediately cuts out the large segment of Apple users. Another option is to build campaigns that do not rely on the efficacy of the Facebook ad conversion. Ideally, businesses should focus on capturing lead generation information before building a Facebook ad campaign so that a custom audience can be created in Facebook. Markets also have the option for subscriptions or in-app payments.


7. Facebook is not the only place to advertise. There are other social media channels (YouTube, LinkedIn, Google, even TikTok… not Instagram, which is owned by Facebook and subject to the same policy). If you know your customer avatar and know where hang out, you can meet them where they are, removing the Facebook anxiety completely from your marketing arsenal.


8. Steps you can take right now if you’re advertising on Facebook:
  1. The most important thing you can do is verify your domain in Facebook
  2. Verify your pixel implementation on your website.
  3. Choose and prioritize your eight events for tracking.
  4. Examine any other tracking.
  5. Find alternatives to Facebook. They’re not the only game in town, and if you find yourself too constricted by the iOS 14 changes, you don’t have to shut down you ad campaigns completely. There are alternatives and other platforms and strategies to use to find, target and engage with your audience.
  6. Book a free strategy session with Twlv20 to determine your best pivot strategy.
What do you think about this update? What concerns you the most? What workarounds or alternate campaigns are you planning? Let us know in the Comments. In the meantime, carefully examine how you’re advertising in Facebook (or by extension, Instagram) and prepare to make a shift. What you’ve been doing – even if it’s working and bringing great results – will not continue to bring you results. There’s a lot to understand and navigate around with this iOS 14 update, but you don’t have to do it alone. Contact us today… our team is ready to help with a Free Strategy Session to discuss setting up a winning ad strategy.

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