As the world began its descent into chaos at the peak of COVID, Apple dropped a bomb on the Meta Nation. On any iOS 14 device, Facebook, Instagram, and Tiktok marketers would no longer be able to run ads without the permission of the user. Unsurprisingly, iOS 14 Facebook Ads have quickly become one of the hottest discussion topics among marketers all over the world.
IN THIS ARTICLE YOU WILL LEARN:
The impact the new Apple iOS 14 and 14.5 updates has on your Facebook Ads.
Issues iOS 14 and 14.5 can cause advertisers.
How to adapt your Facebook Ads for the Apple iOS 14 and 14.5 updates.
Even before the move became official, Apple had been vocal about data protection and the privacy for its users. Upon the enactment of the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation, Apple took the hint and launched an embargo on several online platforms and mobile apps.
As a result of the iOS 14 update, the iOS 14 and Facebook Ads manager would no longer be able to perform data tracking. The only exception to this rule is via opt-in pages through which iOS users can authorize an app to track their data.
This move in data protection is miles ahead of that imposed in the United States, which is yet to impose statutes similar to the General Data Protection Regulation.
The legislative environment in the US hardly limits Apple as a company. Apple controls the software and hardware of all Apple users, and it can, by reason of policy, implement strategies like this data protection program via new system updates.
The implication of the iOS 14 update is that on this platform online advertising, data tracking, conversion tracking, and access to third-party data is not as easy or effective as it used to be.
Clearly, the average performance of a Facebook Ad is lower as a result, and Facebook advertisers are more hesitant to invest in the Facebook Ads Manager, the ad spend rate is lower, and Facebook Ads is no longer able to track user behavior to give accurate analytics. Ultimately, this means less revenue for Facebook advertisers and the Meta Nation. In fact, Facebook had projected a 50% decline in ad revenue once the plan came into effect in 2021; they actually recorded a 60% decline when the update came into effect.
Seeing how the new development limits Facebook advertisers, Facebook made significant PR moves to discredit this change. Although these efforts didn’t produce any notable results, Facebook's response was significant enough to get a word or two from Tim Cook, CEO of Apple.
By early 2021, businesses that ran Facebook Ad campaigns had to get ready for huge changes to Facebook Ads imposed by the Apple iOS 14 update. The digital world began to wonder about the Apple iOS update notification popping up at the top of most Ads Managers. Marketers kept asking themselves what it all meant. At this time, the pop-up notification below was the weirdest thing happening on iOS 14.
In early 2021, Apple required all apps in the App Store to implement their App Tracking Transparency framework. This would affect the ability of apps to carry out conversion tracking on iOS 14 users.
Apple’s App Tracking Transparency framework limits the information that can be exchanged with third parties, such as Facebook, which significantly impacts ad creation, ad personalization, and performance reporting. The main things impacted by these changes are:
It is no longer possible to track or optimize actions that are taken by iOS 14 users, but you will still be able to get sales, leads, and actions.
Now let’s look at specific ad objectives that have been affected:
Tracking of any Pixel activity with other objectives is also affected.
Other objectives, such as lead generation, that are tracked on Facebook will still be tracked and reported correctly.
The reality is that a large number of users did not care whether data collection and tracking were part of each app and, therefore, did not care to disable it. However, given the option, many will be unlikely to grant permission for tracking. It has become easier to say no.
Of course, you are still going to get leads and sales from iOS devices; you just won’t be able to see them all in the Ads Manager reports. As a result, your cost per action may increase.
If you thought that iOS 14 was the only problem we are faced with, then take a look at what we expect in terms of optimization.
Going through these details may be distressing, but there is a ray of hope. iOS as an operating system represents only 15% of the market share of mobile devices. This means that if Apple devices interfere with your need to collect data or track user behavior, you can start by shifting your focus to users of other operating systems. This way, you can gain more control over your ad tracking while you simultaneously work on new advertising strategies directed at iPhone users.
The process for domain verification is outlined below.
Tracking user data is not entirely impossible, even when users opt out of data tracking. Facebook has come up with a number of innovative alternatives for tracking the data of iOS users who opt out of tracking.
When Apple users don’t allow tracking, the Facebook Conversions application programming interface (API) allows you to track data directly from your server.
The API uses Facebook Pixel to measure ad performance. This is done by tracking events that occur between the Facebook server and your server.
The conversion API is designed to enhance Facebook Pixel so that you can track data reliably, even though Pixel is no longer as effective at gathering information.
Events that come through the API are linked with Pixel's name and are delivered in the format of Pixel events. In this manner, they can be targeted at an audience that has a high probability of clicking on them.
At its advanced levels, it could help your measurements of conversion attribution, giving you access to more people. There are various methods of organizing your conversion APIs.
According to Facebook, it can run Pixel event conversions directly from the iOS device using a new measurement strategy. This process acts as a compromise of sorts: Your ads run without problems, and the user privacy remains intact.
Conversion Lift is a mechanism that helps you track how much profit you made from other social media platforms or apps. This way you can really monitor the performance of your campaigns.
Urchin traffic monitor (UTM) tags are a set of characters that are embedded in a URL. UTM tags are used to track the traffic that comes to your website from a particular platform – in this case, Facebook. UTM tags can provide an effective way to track Facebook Ads.
Let's examine each element of the UTM code so that we know how to tweak them effectively.
The UTM source shows you where your traffic is coming from. Be it YouTube, Instagram, Tiktok, Facebook, a specialized sales channel, or another platform. An insight into your source helps you determine which sources to focus on and which to withdraw from.
The medium tells you the channel through which your audience has interacted with your ad. Was it through a social media platform, via mail, through a search engine results page, or via apop-up on another website?
The medium may seem similar to the UTM source, but, when you dig a little deeper, you see that there are some important differences. Let’s suppose you paid an influencer to advertise your products on YouTube, you ran a video ad on YouTube, you paid another influencer on Tiktok, and also ran an email campaign. Furthermore, let’s assume you gave the influencers customized links to your product pages, put a code to scan in the video ad on YouTube, and attached a link to the mail. Here, the difference between source and medium becomes important.
The source tells you that two thousand people came to your site from YouTube, five thousand from Tiktok, and eight thousand were attracted via mail.
The medium tells you that of the two thousand from YouTube, seven hundred landed on your page by scanning the code in the video ad, while one thousand three hundred got to your page by using the influencer's customized link.
Now, the difference should be more apparent.
UTM Campaign (UTM _Campaign)
The UTM campaign tells you which of your campaigns has drawn traffic to your site. Still sticking with our example from above, let's assume that you ran two different campaigns on YouTube; this part of the UTM tells you which campaign brought the traffic to your website.
UTM Term (UTM _Term)
If you have run some paid search ads, this part of the UTM reveals which keywords or terms have attracted the audience to your page.
How to Make UTM Codes
UTM codes are mostly created using the Google Analytics URL builder. This process uses your Google Analytics ad account to help you see what is being tracked.
Simply go to your Google account and fill in the required fields.
With multiple UTMs, you get a fuller account of your ad’s performance. You know which platforms account for the most clicks, which campaigns obtained the most conversions, and what products have the highest sales. With this information, optimization becomes way easier.
The major reason for the inability of big companies like Facebook to combat Apple on this issue is that they cannot lay claim to the data involved. A simple remedy? Build your own data. First-party data is not only an effective way to mitigate the effects of iOS 14, But it is also a sustainable way to ensure you’re immune to future policies that may place further restrictions on businesses that use third-party data.
Although it may seem like fiction, this actually happened, and at the time it occurred, there were about 2.5 million iOS users in the US. Around 94% of these people denied permission for ads and data tracking, leaving only 6% in the mix.
Across the world, 89% of iOS users opted out of data and ad tracking.
So where did all this steam come from?
The iOS 14.5 update.
If iOS 14 dug deep, then iOS 14.5 dug deeper. On the 26th of April 2021, Apple rolled out the iOS 14.5 update and turned off the Identifier For Advertisers (IDFA).
IDFA is a random identifier which Apple associates with an iOS device. Advertisers can use this identifier to track activity on the user's device in a manner that permits customization of their advertisement based on the data they gather.
With IDFA, advertisers can track all events that a user triggers within an app. When the channel enables IDFA, an advertiser can also know when users interact with a campaign ad. It may also indicate if they have clicked the ad for payment or attribution.
Now that iOS 14.5 has turned off the IDFA by default, tracking this information in the case of iOS users has become increasingly difficult. However, Apple allows the user to turn on the IDFA for any given app.
Should the user consent, you can access their data as usual. But if not, you will be limited to registering only single conversion events. Most businesses that find themselves subject to this limitation choose purchase, since it is the most important part of any advertising platform.
If you're comfortable running a single conversion event campaign, this works just fine. If not, you can either use the AEM protocol or StoreKit Ad Network (SKAdNetwork) API.
We've mentioned the AEM protocol above, so here we’ll focus on the SKAdNetwork API. The SKAdNetwork API uses a third-party publishing app to track your ads. Once the ad starts playing, the publishing app notifies the API. If it plays for three seconds, the API counts it as a view. If the user interacts with the ad, the API is able to track information on purchases, installations, quantities, and other details.
You can also explore server-side tracking and server-side tagging. This can also cushion the effects of the 14.5 update.
News Update: iOS 15
iOS 15 was launched in the fall of 2021. The major data privacy feature that came with the update was related to mail data privacy. This feature hides the IP address of users as it can also be used as an identifier. Once the IP address is hidden, apps cannot determine if or when a user opened a marketing email. The system also lets users see how the apps they permitted access to their data have interacted with it. There are several other features that come with iOS 15. You can explore them here.
We hope that this article was useful in giving you insights into how the latest versions of iOS have changed the playing field in digital marketing. As you can see, even though some of the changes looked intimidating at the time of release, the industry has found ways around them. So, no matter what curveballs Apple will throw at us in their upcoming iOS releases, you can rest assured that we will find ways to deal with them, and we will tell you all about them.
We advise you not to panic! Facebook knows about all the coming changes, and they are working really hard to solve any issues that may emerge. The best thing you can do to ensure your marketing stays amazing is to enlist the help of professionals.