There is plenty of chatter around about the iOS 14 privacy changes and how these will impact businesses who are advertising via the Facebook platform. 

As a user if you visit a website you are often tracked by a Facebook pixel that the business had put into the page code (this is one way you get that pair of shoes that seems to follow you around the internet!). Apple is making some changes in iOS 14 that are going to impact how this pixel works for Apple users on mobile, ipad and TV. New privacy conditions are going to mean that users need to OPT IN for this kind of tracking and advertising. 

Facebook has been publicly speaking out on the changes (which must mean it is something we too need to be paying attention to!).


What is the iOS 14 update?

This update is all about privacy and data usage (specifically for iOS 14, iPADOS 14 and tvOS 14). Within these different platforms users will have more information on hand about how individual apps use their data. Developers will also have to provide clear and detailed information on their privacy policies, what information they are collecting and how this information will be used. In simple terms, this seems fair and probably even necessary!

The change we are most interested in as advertisers is related to the permissions. Once this update rolls out, apps will be required to get permission from users to track them or access the device’s advertising identifier. 


How the iOS update impacts users

The big change around this is actually that users have to OPT-IN to provide these permissions (it isn’t as simple has having this information in a privacy policy that users accept when they download an app). 

Facebook has generally worked in an OPT-OUT fashion. Meaning you might get an alert to update your privacy settings but that is about it. So when you use an app you will now have to opt-in (see the example below) 

What users will see in this change to iOS 14

You will see this prompt on all iOS apps, including

  • Facebook apps (Messenger Instagram, Whatsapp, Facebook)
  • Any app that is part of the Audience Network (placements used by advertisers). You can read more about the impact and Audience Network in this article.

Apple has given some examples where user approval for data tracking will show


Facebook’s concerns around iOS 14

Facebook is worried that the change “may render Audience Network so ineffective on iOS 14 that it may not make sense to offer it on iOS 14 in the future.” Not light words there! 

The reason they say this is that although they will be able to continue to serve ads on the network, the experience will likely be so impacted they expect huge decreases in success of ads. Some users are likely to not see ads at all and others are likely to see less relevant ads (meaning high CPC’s and less ROAS). 

The challenge is that this isn’t the only way SME’s are going to be impacted by the changes. Facebook has said that businesses that advertise on mobile devices and across the web will be impacted (so I think it is fair to assume that this will be the case). 


What is changing on Facebook for advertisers

Facebook wrote a great post on the changes they are making in response to the iOS 14 update. To sum this up for you, if people are not giving Facebook’s app’s permission to track them then Facebook is saying this will impact optimisation, targeting and tracking across the web. 

To explain how this works let’s look at an example. Jo doesn’t opt-in to tracking, and clicks on a link from his Facebook newsfeed – instead of being tracked, we can assume Jo is an untraceable user. Facebook can’t track Jo or what he does e.g if he visits the website, purchases something and so forth. 

It is important to remember that this applies to mobile use only (not desktop users). On desktop the Facebook pixel should still fire and pick up users. 


What you can do now as an advertiser and the actions you will need to take

On the blog from Facebook mentioned above there is a full list of what is changing on Facebook’s end and what you need to do. It can be a bit overwhelming. So we have summed up below what you need to do or be aware of.

1. Event management is changing. 

a. You will be limited to max 8 conversions per domain (aka 8 pixel events that can be tracked, such as “add to cart” “page view” “purchase”). You don’t need to make any changes for this to happen, but any ad sets with more than 8 will be paused (note: I don’t expect this to impact most SME who don’t use a large number of events currently, so don’t panic!). 

b. You will rank these 8 conversions by priority. Reporting will show only the highest rank event. 

c. Domain verification will be needed inside Business Manager to make sure things run smoothly. To do this check out our blog or this article from Facebook or get in touch with us. 

d. Facebook is now bringing in Aggregated Event Measurement to allow for measurement of web events from iOS 14 users. To learn how to add aggregated events for Facebook ads, give our blog a read.

2. Delivery

a. Value Optimisation (VO) is moving from Ads Manager to Events Manager and a number of changes are taking place (migration will happen automatically). This is worth acknowledging, but SME’s shouldn’t need to worry about this.

b. Dynamic ads – Facebook is saying there is no changes happening here in terms of how you use these (though they will be impacted for retargeting ads via the change in data collection). Facebook recommends only one pixel per catalogue. 

3. Measurement

a. Facebook is loving from a 7-day click and 1-day view attribution window. What this means is a conversion event will be measured when a user sees your ad doesn’t click but does convert within 1-day it will be counted (and similarly if they see the ad, click, and convert within 7-days). This is changing from a 28-day click and 1-day view window. This means there is likely to be a loss of conversions being reported. 

4. Developer APIs (for advertising your app installs and engagement).

a. If you are running these ads you will need to have a separate ad for app install campaigns for iOS 14.
b. App’s can only be associated with one ad account.
c. Each app can only have 9 campaigns running for iOS 14 at once.

PHEW! Now that was a lot of information. 

To summarise, we would be recommending keeping an eye on ad performance while this change takes place. Effectively most adverts will continue to run (and it will be reporting and targeting that will change the most). 

I do expect this iOS 14 change to be significant, but to what level we will have to wait and see. Keep your eye out for more detail!