iOS 14 tracking changes: How to prepare your Facebook ads

In summer 2020, Apple announced that as part of the rollout of its updated operating system, iOS 14, it would be making changes to how apps can track users, a move designed to protect and preserve online user privacy.

What Changes?

At its core the update means that so-called Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) that enables apps like Facebook (although this applies to any app in the Apple App Store that collects user data) to track users and devices will now only be available if users opt-in to have their data tracked. Although this new opt-in will only appear to users on Apple devices, Facebook has announced that its updates will apply to all mobile devices.

Why?

It will come as no surprise to anyone reading this article that user privacy and restrictions around what apps can track and use have been front and center in the digital marketing industry, even before the introduction of GDPR. 

The privacy-centric spotlight continues to shine on the likes of Facebook and Google for how much 3rd party data they collect to power their advertising services and deliver contextually-targeted ads. Apple’s new tracking protocol falls in line with this industry-wide shift, as it puts the power back in the hands of users to decide who can track their data for the purpose of advertising personalisation.

When?

The new opt-in system was due to be implemented in September last year, however, Apple pushed it back in order to give app developers time to make the necessary changes to accommodate it. When it was announced our Head of Strategy and Insights, David Berry, examined the update and what it would mean for the advertising industry. 

In the rest of this blog post, however, we’ll look briefly at some of the key steps that advertisers need to take now to mitigate the changes and continue running and measuring their Facebook campaigns to see success from their advertising.

What Advertisers Can Do to Mitigate the Changes.

Event Tracking.

Facebook has advised advertisers to make a number of changes in order to continue being able to track events in Facebook Ads Manager. It is worth highlighting that any in-platform actions that users take (i.e., impressions, clicks, likes, leads) will not be affected, as these metrics represent Facebook’s proprietary data. 

The following three actions relate specifically to ensuring that what users do after clicking on a Facebook ad and going to your website can still be tracked. As such, we recommend that you implement them as soon as possible.

  • The Facebook Conversion API (CAPI) — among other uses, the Facebook CAPI essentially acts as a data funnel for your website to send back event information to Facebook and attribute conversions (i.e., adds to cart, purchases) to campaigns but not, it must be highlighted, to individual users. More details on how to set up the Facebook CAPI can be found here.
  • Domain Verification — advertisers can verify their domain from within the Facebook Business Manager by navigating to Brand Safety > Domains and adding their website domain. A line of text is then generated that can be added to your website. This is an essential step in ensuring Facebook recognises that your domain belongs to, well, your business!
  • Automatic Advanced Matching — ensuring that this feature is enabled within Events Manager means that Facebook is able to increase the number of attributed conversions and the size of any custom audiences (i.e., remarketing lists) that you’re using.

Optimisation & Reporting.

Apple’s new tracking protocol means that moving forward Facebook advertisers will be able to track a maximum of 8 web events (or conversions). These events will need to be prioritised in order of importance, and Facebook is rolling out a new tool to allow advertisers to do just this, called the Web Event Configuration Tool. These events will be returned from user activity based on prioritisation, making it an important stage in ensuring the continuity of reporting and measuring success.

When it comes to reporting, the standard attribution window for Facebook Ads is now 7-day click-through and 1-day view-through

Looking to the Future.

As the advertising industry adapts and shifts to a world without 3rd party cookies we will continue to see platforms adjust their systems to be able to continue offering value while respecting user privacy. 

We only see this as a positive change that requires us to think more laterally about our clients’ advertising strategies (as this change will impact all apps on the Apple App Store, not just Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp), and we’re already getting stuck into new client strategies and testing approaches.

Ultimately, Facebook and other paid social platforms will still provide diverse value to businesses, and new ways to measure the impact of Facebook campaigns continue to emerge. It also has to be said that no one has all the answers at this moment in time, but new announcements and updated processes are being released from Facebook which the Clicky team is following closely.

Our paid media specialists are on hand to provide strategic direction

Take a look at these pages for more information or to get in touch

Paid mediaGet in touch

Written by Victoria Doherty

Paid Social Specialist