Apple’s new iOS 14 policy requires that users give active permission for websites and apps to track them, when owned by other companies. This moves all updated iOS activity to an opt-in model and shifts Safari further away from the current industry standard when it comes to tracking marketing activity.
What do these new changes mean for your organization’s marketing efforts? Organizations that have a strong understanding of their 1st-party data likely won’t be impacted too severely. Organizations that are currently relying on platform-supplied data to guide their marketing decisions may need to take a step back and consider how they want to proceed. Regardless of where your organization is on this spectrum, we’ve broken down the impact of this new policy and how your organization can pivot to ensure you don’t miss a beat:
Direct Impact to Facebook Marketing
In response to this policy change, Facebook is making updates to ensure that businesses are able to measure their activity as accurately as possible. These will be continual as Apple releases any additional or developmental updates. The impact of this will be felt incrementally as users begin to update their iOS, or buy new iPhones with iOS 14 already installed — something to which there’s no direct timeline. With app installation campaigns run through Facebook, we’ll see an immediate impact. It might cause disruption to tracking and reporting because of the change in data accessibility, requiring advertisers to adapt their reporting model to accurately track in-app activity driven from Facebook. For website conversion campaigns, the impact will be visible over time, as iOS 14 users begin opting in (or out) of tracking across their online activity.
In order to track users and/or access device identifiers on iOS 14 or equivalent, the users will have had to opt in prior — they’ll be prompted with the message pictured below.
Apple classifies tracking as linking user or device data with data in third-party websites or properties for targeted advertising or measurement purposes. In other words, using Facebook advertising to specifically target iOS users or segmenting them into audience pools based on their behavior.
Once the majority of people have upgraded to the latest iOS, this excludes a large audience from advertising and reporting data unless they’ve specifically opted in. As this is a new policy requirement, there are currently no official forecasts on what that opt-in rate may look like; however, many market analysts are predicting initial adoption may be between 10-20%. If we look at Apple’s geolocation policy update in iOS 13, which asked for explicit permission to collect location data, the opt in rate was 30%. We expect this to be a high-water mark for what this new adoption rate may settle in at, though we would not be shocked if users realize some negative side effects of receiving unpersonalized ads.
The most direct impact to advertisers from these policy shifts are the limitations imposed on event tracking. Facebook is introducing aggregated event measurement as a way to ensure the quantification of web activity from iOS 14 users. The difference between this and the current setup is that there will be a limit of eight events per domain, used for campaign optimization and measurement. For advertisers, this promotes smarter, more streamlined event tracking in order to limit the effect of the changes taking place.
Facebook has noted that these limits won’t apply until Apple begins to enforce the iOS 14 changes. However, it’s worth starting to comprehend the changes that might need to take place in order to comply within this limit.
App Install Campaigns
The changes will also significantly impact app install tracking. For all iOS 14 app install campaigns, Facebook will rely solely on Apple’s API and the data provided through this in order to report on app install and other in-app events.
This means that there will no longer be real-time reporting. The move to API tracking may cause a three-day delay to data and, therefore, reporting.
At the moment, Apple’s API will report results aggregated at the campaign level. This means that app install campaigns will not provide granular ad set or ad level reporting, but rather a holistic view of performance. Additionally, the API doesn’t support the Facebook attribution window, so results will now be based on the attribution window set through Apple’s API.
It’s worth noting that the above changes and limitations apply to app installs and app events, not to Facebook metrics such as impressions or link clicks.
These changes will be felt incrementally as users gradually update to iOS 14. For devices using iOS 13 or below, the above doesn’t apply.
Blue State Recommendations
While this is an issue that will be felt across any campaign that relies on this type of data, Facebook has been the first to publicly announce that they disagree with Apple’s policy changes. In response, they are working to ensure that advertisers can continue to rely on the platform for accurate reporting and campaign measurement.
We recommend that your organization follows Facebook’s guidance to ensure that the impact on measurement is as minimal as possible. Here are a few things we’re planning to assist our clients with, to ensure that folks are equipped for what’s to come:
- Complete domain verification: Facebook has always recommended that “all businesses should verify their domain as a best practice.” Now, this becomes synonymous with the ability to track conversions across activity as the iOS 14 update becomes more widespread. Where domains are integrating pixels owned by multiple businesses, the verification becomes more important in order to mitigate future conversion tracking issues.
- Plan to streamline your conversion events linked to each domain: Facebook confirms these changes will mean that “you can only configure up to eight unique conversion events per website domain that can be used for campaign optimization.” We recommend ensuring that all conversion-based landing pages sit under the one primary domain that is verified with Facebook. When activity drives users off-site to complete an action, it will no longer be possible to accurately track conversions in-platform.
- Verify conversions within your CRM: As the true impact to each organization’s conversion-based campaigns won’t be similar, we’re recommending that everyone refers to CRM data over the next few months to verify any Facebook conversion data. Even when Facebook tracking pixels are set up correctly, we anticipate that Facebook’s reported conversion data will begin to underreport conversions as more users opt out of tracking. Your organization should refer to the sourced conversions within their CRM reporting to understand a truer sense of how many last-click conversions were driven by Facebook ads.
Have other questions about these updates or how it impacts your larger paid media strategy? Get in touch.