Surveys show that 83% of people have concerns about how businesses monitor and collect data from mobile devices. However, people value their privacy and believe in their right to control how companies use personal data.

The Apple iOS 14.5 update introduces Apple's new controls on how apps can track people. App users now have to opt in and allow any application they download to track their activity via a similar opt-in mechanism to other marketing campaigns. At face value, this is a long-anticipated improvement for the consumer as it provides control over the data they have been demanding.

However, for marketers, advertisers, and small businesses, the change to data tracking will likely upend their entire campaign strategy. Apps like Facebook can no longer track users without specific permission, thus hurting targeted campaigns' capacity. Mark Zuckerberg has publicly said that he believes the changes are being made in Apple's "competitive interests."

Let's look a bit closer at the update, how it affects your Facebook Ad Campaigns, and what you can do about it.

The iOS 14.5 Update

In a study by Flurry Analytics, during the first three weeks of the iOS 14.5 rollout, the global opt-in rate for data collection averaged 13%, or only 6%, in the US.

Marketers lose access to the Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) when a user doesn't opt-in to Facebook tracking.

  • When Facebook cannot track user behavior on iOS 14.5 devices, pixels cannot serve a function for advertising campaigns.
  • Facebook Ad targeting is far more limited. This is because marketers won't have enough data to do more granular targeting, resulting in less personalized content and campaigns.
  • Facebook app and web conversions will no longer provide a reporting breakdown on dimensions such as age, gender, region, or ad placement for iOS 14 users.
  • For iOS 14 devices, there is no real-time reporting, and data may be delayed for up to 3 days.

The changes come under Apple's App Tracking Transparency framework, which prohibits particular data collection and sharing unless people opt in via the prompt.

What workarounds are available for Facebook Ad Campaigns?

In Facebook Ad strategies, finding lookalike audiences, remarketing, and tracking conversion are all crucial components. However, there are a few workarounds that businesses can try.

  1. Decide whether you should remove iOS devices from your Facebook ad campaign if you have a conversion objective.
  2. Use your website domain's tracking to determine if a conversion occurs on your website rather than through the Facebook campaign metrics.

Facebook is working on a solution called Aggregated Event Measurement (AEM). AEM is designed to measure campaign performance to be more consistent with how consumers want to manage and control their data. Facebook Pixel conversion events will still be processed on IOS devices and can track the events people take on your website. The social network is trying to help marketers run an effective campaign while complying with the new privacy laws.

Actions you can take

To respond to the changes, Facebook recommends updating to Software Development Kit (SDK) for IOS version 8.1, which helps personalize ads delivered to IOS 14 users and continue receiving app conversion events reporting. You can do this via Events Manager, and you need to be an app admin to make the updates.

It also helps to verify your website domain and avoid future campaign disruption. This is important if you plan to deliver ads optimized for conversion events on your business website. Three implementation methods require a code: DNS TXT, HTML, and Meta Tag. It would be best to verify your company domain on your Facebook page. There is a guide to doing so here.

There is now a limit of 8 events for each domain that can be tracked with the iOS 14.5 update. Facebook automatically assigns events based on what it perceives as most relevant to your business. Any iOS 14 user who opts out of data tracking is only logged in for one event after clicking on a Facebook Ad. Facebook recommends that companies optimize their top eight conversion events to track a consumer's journey, ranking the most valuable data to your company, such as a purchase.

Facebook is launching an Events Managing tool so users can make adjustments and prioritize the top eight events. Typically, Facebook Ad accounts don't use all eight events, but you need to work to consolidate them into overarching categories if that is the case.

If you are a developer, you can read more technical details here.

Marketers should review their campaign optimization strategies that could require testing against the new rules and see if they need to apply alternative audiences or bidding strategies. This could include bid types, amounts, or optimization events to see how they stack up against new performance levels, allowing you to develop best practices.

Please don't panic. It's not all bad!

Although the news might sound like it will be catastrophic for your Facebook Ad campaigns, it is worth noting that Android still has a massive 72% of the global market share compared to 27% using iOS. So although it is essential to be aware of the changes and update your strategy as necessary, it isn't something that needs to cause much stress to marketers.

In the remainder of 2021, marketers should keep on top of the changes as you may see a dip in the performance of Facebook campaigns. Facebook has created a checklist to help you prepare for the iOS 14 changes with actions you can take. The Apple requirements are still evolving and contested by Facebook and LinkedIn, so keep an eye on the latest news for additional guidance.