How Apple's New iOS Update Will Change How You Advertise on Facebook

Apps on a smartphone screen

This spring, Apple will debut a new feature in iOS14, AppTracking Transparency (ATT), that will require all apps in the App Store to ask for user permission to collect and share their data—data that has been at the forefront of ad targeting and digital advertising for years. By providing users with the ability to opt out of this data collection, Apple is giving consumers a chance to protect their information and own their own personal information. 

According to Apple, the following instances of tracking fall under the new iOS14 updates:

  • Displaying targeted advertisements in your app based on user data collected from apps and websites owned by other companies

  • Sharing device location data or email lists with a data broker

  • Sharing a list of emails, advertising IDs, or other IDs with a third-party advertising network that uses that information to retarget those users in other developers’ apps or to find similar users

  • Placing a third-party software developer kit (SDK) in your app that combines user data from your app with user data from other developers’ apps to target advertising or measure advertising efficiency, even if you don’t use the SDK for these purposes (for example, using an analytics SDK that repurposes the data it collects from your app to enable targeted advertising in other developers’ apps)

Unfortunately, with this iOS14 update, what is good for consumers will not be good for the multitude of advertisers that rely on that collected and shared data. One of the hardest hit advertisers from these changes will be Facebook, who relies heavily on user information to personalize its advertising and target specific audiences. Like many apps, Facebook is in the process of developing a new opt-in screen where users will be able to grant or deny permissions for their data to be collected.

One of the biggest changes to Facebook’s advertising, as a result of ATT will be the removal of the 28-day attribution window for tracking events. Moving forward, the only attribution windows that will be used are:

  • 7-day click (default after Apple prompt enforcement)

  • 7-day click and 1-day view (initial default)

  • 1-day click and 1-day view

  • 1-day click

This means that with each 7 day click or 1-day view advertisers are able to optimize for those consumers who convert within 7 days of being offered an ad, or within 1 day of seeing the ad. Additionally, if a Facebook user opts out of tracking, only 1 event after a click will be reported and tracked. 

Current estimates suggest that somewhere between 25% and 80% of app users will opt out of data collection on Facebook and other platforms affected by the iOS14 changes. 

With this new update, advertisers will no longer have the ability to break down data based on demographics such as age, gender, or region, nor will the ability to access real-time data be supported. This could cause advertisers to have a delay of up to three days for reporting, making it increasingly challenging to target specific audiences on the platform, test creativity among specific audiences, and more. 

Similarly, due to a reduction in data collection, lookalike and remarketing audiences (which have both traditionally been great performance-drivers for campaigns) will shrink in size and brands will need to learn how to navigate these obstacles on Facebook and on other advertising platforms affected by Apple’s updates. 

Given these new restrictions, Facebook’s Aggregated Event Measurement protocol allows measurements of web events from users on iOS14 to minimize the impact of data loss. To best prepare, brands and advertisers should begin to diversify their advertising channels and move money away from Facebook. There is a chance that performance may begin to dip due to the changes to the attribution model making it more difficult to measure performance and track success from the platform. Brands should also carefully review their mobile advertising program as a whole, to make sure the new limitations don't dramatically reduce efficiency and performance.

For changes to event management, Facebook advises advertisers to verify their domains in the business manager to ensure that there will be no interruptions in the ability to configure event conversions. If more than eight conversion events are used for optimization or reporting, plan to operate with just eight per domain. No changes will need to be made pixels or Conversions API as it will be done automatically within the events manager. 

Other recommendations include preparing for attribution window changes (deprecation of 28-day click-through, 28-day view-through, and 7-day view-through) by adopting the Comparing Windows feature to anticipate the change to reported conversions. Facebook also suggests updating automated rules currently using the 28-day attribution window to prevent any issues when the new 7-day click-through window default goes into effect.

Although Apple’s iOS14 update may be throwing a curveball at digital and mobile advertising as we know it, with proper preparation, brands and advertisers should be able to continue running successful advertising campaigns.