Everything You Need To Know About Apple iOS 14 And Its Impact On Facebook Marketing

Apple recently announced new app policies with iOS 14 which impacts how Facebook receives and processes conversion events, including tools such as Facebook pixel.

New app policies include

  • Tracking Transparency Prompt: All apps on the App Store will be required to show a Tracking Transparency Prompt. This policy will restrict certain data collection and sharing unless users on iOS 14 devices opt in.
  • New Private Click Measurement (PCM) Framework: This restricts, aggregates, and delays event reporting.
  • Impact on advertisers: Limited ability to personalise ads and report performance for app & web conversion events.

Here's everything you need to take note about Apple iOS 14 updates and its impact on Facebook marketing.

Who needs to take note

Any business advertising mobile applications and businesses optimising, targeting and reporting on web conversion events from any of Facebook business tools will be affected. Here's what businesses need to do to stay ahead.

What is Facebook doing to minimise the disruption

Facebook will begin to process pixel conversion events from Apple iOS 14 devices using Aggregated Event Measurement (AEM). This will support efforts to preserve user privacy and simultaneously run effective campaigns.

Here are some limitations to take note of when AEM is rolled out.

Upcoming limitations

facebook apple ios 14 update

1. Ad creation limitations

Website

Under Facebook’s Aggregated Event Measurement, each business domain will be limited to 8 conversion events per domain.

For example, if a business has 3 pixels with 3 events each, the domain will have 9 conversion events (3 pixels x 3 events).

Once AEM is applied, the top 8 conversion events will be auto configured by Facebook and campaigns optimising for the 9th event will be automatically paused. However, businesses can subsequently choose which 8 conversion events they wish to focus on.

All standard events and custom conversions will be supported. However, custom events are not available right now. Advertisers who previously had access to web Custom Event optimisation will therefore not be able to use it.

Mobile application

Your app will only be allowed to associate with one single ad account. However, the same ad account can be used to advertise for multiple apps.

Each app is limited to 9 iOS 14 campaigns at once. Each campaign is limited to five ad sets of the same optimisation type.

There is a 72-hour reset period after you turn off or delete one of your nine permitted iOS 14 campaigns before it will no longer count against your limit.

Auction is the only available buying option when you create an ad for devices on iOS 14; reach and frequency are not available.

Once your campaign is published, you can't turn the iOS 14 campaign toggle on or turn off. You'll have to turn off or delete your campaign.

2. Reporting limitations

Website

Delayed reporting: Web conversion events will be reported based on the time the conversions occur and not the time of the associated ad impressions.

Estimated results: Statistical modelling may be used to account for conversions from iOS 14 users.

Breakdown: Delivery and action breakdowns, such as age, gender, region and placement will not be supported. However, Facebook lead generation ads will not be affected as they do not rely on offsite events from pixels or conversions API.

Attribution setting: The attribution window for all new or active ad campaigns will be set at the ad set level, rather than at the account level. The default for all new or active ad campaigns will be set at a 7-day click attribution window.

Mobile application

Delayed reporting: Real-time reporting will not be supported and you can expect a delay in data for up to 3 days. Conversion events will be reported based on the time that they are reported to Facebook by the SKAdNetwork API.

Estimated results: The SKAdNetwork API will report results to Facebook, aggregated at the campaign level. Statistical modelling may be used to account for results at the ad set and ad levels, unless the campaign is composed of a single ad set and ad.

Breakdown: Delivery and action breakdowns, such as age, gender, region and placement will not be supported.

Attribution setting: The attribution window for all new or active ad campaigns will be set at the ad set level. iOS 14 app install campaigns will report based on the attribution window provided by Apple's SKAdNetwork API.

3. Targeting limitations

There may be a potential decrease in audience size (custom audience and retargeting audience) as more people opt out of tracking on iOS 14 devices.

4. Dynamic ad limitations

Website

Your pixel will only report and optimise for a maximum of eight conversion events for each domain. Facebook will auto-configure the top 8 conversion events most relevant to your business based on previous activity. All other events will be paused but you can manage your preferences in Events Manager.

Keep in mind that only Business Manager account that verified the domain will be allowed to edit the conversion event.

If you use multiple domains in your catalogue, verify each website domain that you use as a product URL and avoid using any product URLs that redirect to another domain.

Mobile application

Some iOS 14 devices may default to a mobile web browser destination (instead of an app or app store). To direct all iOS 14 devices to an app destination, create a new campaign that optimises for link clicks.

How these limitations may impact SMEs

While protecting users privacy policy is important, the new policies will inevitably affect SMEs.

Advertising on Facebook will become less efficient and effective due to the limitation in action breakdowns such as age, gender, race. This makes it more difficult for small businesses to reach their ideal audience, limiting growth

The lack in personalisation may result in businesses not being able to tailor their ads to suit different target audience. This could result in 60% fewer website sales from ads, and a drop in revenue by 50% resulting from Facebook app install ads.

But is it all that bad?

Even if Facebook marketing has reduced functions due to Apple iOS 14 privacy changes, small businesses can still thrive because there are other advertising options out there.

44% of small businesses increased their advertising on Facebook during the pandemic - this was done for a practical reason - because consumers have no choice but to be stuck at home, glued to their phones.

As Dipayan Ghosh from Wired points out, this figure doesn't necessarily mean that small businesses are fully reliant on Facebook, nor do they benefit fully, just that it happened to be the best option for them at that point in time.

There are other social media channels SMEs can consider advertising, such as LinkedIn, TikTok, Pinterest and Telegram.

On the other hand, if you are fully reliant on Facebook, and these changes severely restricts your ROI, your business may not be sustainable. It's time to relook at whether your business has a good lifestyle marketing strategy in place.

Do you:

  1. Actively update the content of your website to engage consumers?
  2. Have a proper follow up system or marketing automation system in place to engage prospects who previously inquired?
  3. Engage existing customers with new promotions and a proper CRM system?

An integrated marketing strategy is the best way for SMEs to thrive.

That's not to say that Facebook isn't important, or that SMEs should forsake it because of limitations in Apple iOS 14 recent updates. Facebook will continue to test and roll out innovations that will help the advertising industry remain profitable while keeping in line with Apple's new restrictions.

In the meantime, here's what you can do to stay ahead.

Action steps

Here is what advertisers and businesses need to prepare for to continue to deliver and measure campaign performance

Website

Do the following if you plan to run ads for conversion events for your business website.

1. Verify your domain on business manager

Verifying your website domain will allow you to:

  • Configure conversion events for a given domain when Aggregated Event Measurement becomes available.

If domain verification is not done, businesses will not be able to edit the conversion event configuration for the domain.

If you are working with an agency/ agencies:
  • After you (the client) verifies the domain, you can share with their agency. The agency will need to have ‘admin access’ in the Business Manager that verified the domain to edit or configure conversion events.
  • In the event that there are multiple pixels belonging to different Business Managers, verification only needs to be done in the Business Manager of the client that owns the domain. It does not necessarily have to be the same Business Manager that owns the pixel.
If you have multiple domains:
  • Domain verification can be done for multiple domains within a single Business Manager account as long as the URLs are unique.
  • For example, if you verify business.com, business.sg, business.co.sg in a single Business Manager account, all three domains will be entitled to 8 conversion events each
If you have sub-domains:
  • Event limitations apply to the top level domain (eTLD+1), including all the sub-domains.
  • The top level domain refers to the domain that the business registered for their website.
  • For example, for events.business.sg, business.sg and business.sg, the top level domain is business.sg and only that domain needs to be verified in the Business Manager.

Learn more about domain verification here.

Learn how to verify your domain here.

2. Determine which 8 conversion events your business needs

Businesses with more than 8 conversion event per domain will need to come up with an action plan on how to operate with 8 conversion events per domain for optimisation.

Facebook will auto-configure the best 8 conversion events based on past activity but you may need to make changes to the configuration on Events Manager.

3. Anticipate changes to attribution windows and update automated rules

Use the Comparing Windows feature to see how conversions attributed to their ads compared across different attribution windows. This will help you better anticipate any changes in reported conversions that result from moving to a 7-day window.

Export any historical 28-day view or click and 7-day view attribution window data you need. Historical data will still be accessible via the Ads Insights API, even after the changes go into effect.

4. Identify campaign optimisation strategies

Start to identify which optimisation strategies, such as bid types, optimisation events, will need to be tested to develop the new best practices. Learn more about how to use Facebook pixel to reach devices on iOS 14 and measure performance.

Mobile application

Do the following if you plan to run ads for conversion events for your business app.

1. Facebook SDK for iOS

  1. Update to Facebook SDK for iOS version 8.1 or above for iOS 14 support.
  2. Send the advertiser tracking-enabled flag with app events to share user consent status. Learn more here.

2. Mobile Measurement Partners (MMPs)

  1. Check with your Mobile Measurement Partner for more information on where they stand on completion of their integration with Facebook. Facebook continue to collaborate with Mobile Measurement Partners to support interoperability of Apple's SKAdNetwork through either the Facebook SDK for iOS or MMPs.

3. App Events API

  1. Make sure that your app supports Apple's SKAdNetwork.
  2. Configure your own conversion schema for app event optimisation and value optimisation.
  3. Send OS and iOS version. Learn how to pass the OS and iOS information in the Extended device information section on Facebook for Developers.
  4. Send the advertiser tracking-enabled flag with app events to share user consent status. Learn more here.

We hope this summary has been helpful. Feel free to reach out to our digital marketing consultants if you need help with your Facebook digital marketing!

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    Xavier Tan
    Co-Founder
    Xavier is the Co-Founder of Heroes of Digital. He started social media marketing and SEM long before it became popular in Singapore. His passion is in helping businesses grow through effective lead generation. He has overseen campaigns for Amara Hotel, NTU, Marina Bay, L'Oreal, and 100+ SMEs.

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