As you may know, Apple released changes with iOS 14 that affect how they receive and process conversion events from tools such as the Facebook pixel. Apple now gives users the chance to opt-out of their data being tracked, impacting on data collection.
Whilst these controls were previously available, they required users to manually check for them. This means that Apple users are prompted by their device to opt into or out of data collection for each app they use. If permission is denied, apps will have a reduced ability to track site and app behaviour via their pixels. In response, Facebook has made changes to pixel implementation and event tracking. This is in order to minimise the amount of data that will be lost.
What this means
As mentioned previously, Apple’s iOS 14 release prevents data collection and sharing unless people opt into tracking on their devices. If they decide to opt-out of tracking on their iOS 14 devices, ad personalisation and reporting will be limited.
Facebook responded to these changes by introducing a new way of processing pixel conversion events from iOS devices. To do this they use Aggregated Event Measurement (more of that later). This supports your efforts to preserve user privacy and helps you to run effective campaigns.
How will it affect your Facebook advertising?
Whilst we don’t know for certain how these changes will affect our client’s Facebook advertising, we can expect the following to happen:
Your Facebook pixel will only optimise for a maximum of 8 conversion events for each domain
Facebook configures the conversion events that they believe are the most relevant to your business based on your previous activity. All other events are made inactive for campaign optimisation and reporting.
Real-time reporting is not supported and data may be delayed up to three days.
No support for breakdowns
For both app and web conversions, delivery and action breakdowns, such as age, gender, region and placement are not supported.
Changes to account attribution window settings
Since Apple’s iOS 14 changes has taken effect, the attribution window for all new or active ad campaigns has been set at the ad set level, rather than at the account level. The default setting for all new or active campaigns (other than iOS 14 app install campaigns) are set at a 7-day click attribution window. 28-day click-through, 28-day view-through and 7-day view-through attribution windows are not supported for active campaigns. As more people opt-out of tracking on iOS 14 devices, the size of your app connections, app activity Custom Audiences and website custom audiences may have decreased.
How to plan around the iOS 14 update
Despite the changes following the Apple iOS 14 update, there are some simple workarounds to eliminate any significant changes to your ads and reporting.
Verify your domain
Domain verification is part of the changes Facebook implements in respect of Apple iOS 14 privacy changes. Domain verification establishes which Business Manager account has the authority to configure. It prioritises the 8 available conversion events for a given domain. If you’re optimising for conversions, then verifying your domain is THE most important thing to do to avoid any future disruption of your campaigns. If you’re running Facebook ads, you will have already seen prompts in Ads Manager to verify the domain associated with the account.
Domain Verification is a simple process that you can do inside your Business Manager. There is one step you need to perform on your website that involves one of the 3 following processes:
DNS Verification Add a DNS TXT record to your domain host to prove that you own the domain. Most domain hosts allow this, but the specific steps for each service will vary.
HTML File Upload Upload an HTML verification file to your website. To do this you need admin access to your website’s root folder. This will verify your domain immediately.
Meta-Tag Verification Set the meta-tag containing the verification code into the <head> section of your website’s homepage.
Review your current pixel events and decide which 8 events you’d like to track
You will need to configure 8 preferred web conversion events per domain in Events Manager. Facebook’s Aggregated Event Measurement limits domains to 8 conversion events that can be used for campaign optimisation. Facebook configures the conversion events they believe are the most relevant to your business, based on your previous activity. Ad sets optimising for a conversion event that are no longer available were paused when Aggregated Event Measurement launched in 2021.
Exclude iOS devices from campaigns with conversion objectives
This certainly isn’t a permanent solution to running paid advertising on Facebook. However, doing so may give you an insight into what you can expect.
Create campaigns outside of the conversion objective
This would mean running traffic campaigns or similar. Then, use your website’s tracking to determine if a sale or conversion occurred as a result of the ads. UTM’s and a variety of other tactics can be used to determine which campaign, ad set, and ad that a conversion took place from without having to rely 100% on Facebook’s tracking pixel. Lead generation campaigns could be used as well. This strategy will not undo the impact on retargeting audiences but will aid in your ability to drive results from prospecting campaigns.
The future of Facebook ads
Many people see this as the ‘death of Facebook’. However, this is not going to be the complete end of Facebook advertising. It is very frustrating for Facebook advertisers, but there will be several workarounds in the coming months to help. As mentioned, start testing and attempting to rely less on the Facebook pixel. You can also explore ways to get more out of other advertising channels like Google, Bing, and LinkedIn and build re-marketing audiences through those platforms.