How Apple iOS 14 Affects Your Facebook Ads (and what to do about it)

By Anthony Johnson | May 03rd, 2021

If you’ve been running Facebook Ads at any point during the past several months, then you’ve likely heard about Apple’s iOS 14 release and the fact that it will have a significant impact on your Facebook Ads.

But what exactly are these changes? How will they affect your ad accounts? And what do you need to do to minimize any negative impact on your ads?

What’s Changed with Apple iOS 14

Apple’s iOS 14, first announced in June 2020 and released later that year, has involved a greater focus on protecting the privacy of iOS users. Since its release, Apple has been incrementally adding and changing features to further improve the privacy of its operating system.

And it has left advertising platforms, such as Facebook, scrambling to adjust to the changes in ways that have attempted to minimize the impact on advertisers who rely on to tracking users’ activity to gauge ad effectiveness and display relevant ads to consumers.

One of the biggest changes, which started getting rolled out to users on April 28, 2021, is the iOS 14.5 update. In iOS 14.5, users need to manually opt-in to share their tracking data with apps, including but not limited to Facebook pixels which are used to track website visits and user behavior for Facebook Ads reporting and targeting.

Prior to iOS 14.5, users were sharing their tracking data by default, and they would need to dig into their settings to turn off data tracking.

Since users typically have a tendency to keep their default settings rather than change them, this means a large number of iOS users will no longer be sharing their tracking data. And that’s not exactly great news for anyone using Facebooks Ads.

How Apple iOS 14 Affects Your Facebook Ads

Facebook Ads rely heavily on pixel data to not only report on ad performance, but also to determine who to serve ads to based on their browsing behavior.

A pixel is a tiny tracking code that tracks a user’s activity when they visit a given website. When a user visits a particular website that has a Facebook pixel installed, Facebook will know what pages you visited, which products you looked at, etc. It can use that data to help advertisers show ads with a high degree of relevance to that user.

For example, if a user looks at a pair of shoes on a website, Facebook would allow an advertiser to show the user and ad featuring the same pair of shoes they just looked at, with the hope that the ad will entice the user to proceed with purchasing those shoes.

If the user was brought to the website via clicking on a Facebook ad, that statistic will also be reported to the advertiser in the Facebook Ads platform, and the activity the user takes based on the ad (such as a visit, purchase, etc.) will be attributed to that Facebook ad.

However, with iOS 14, that data is now limited. For example, since users of iOS 14.5 are defaulted to opting out of allowing their data to be tracked by 3rd parties, Facebook Ads will lose a large chunk of data that it previously relied upon.

This means advertisers are seeing ad performance drop, because activity of any users who click on Facebook Ads who do not allow tracking are not be attributed to those ads. It doesn’t necessarily mean the ads are less effective, it just means the data isn’t there to know one way or another.

Also, since Facebook Ads delivery is heavily dependent on pixel data, the effectiveness of Facebook’s algorithm is being put into question, since it can no longer use the same amount of data to determine the best users to whom it should serve ads, and the best ads that should be served at a given time or in a given situation.

Using Facebook Ads terminology, it means advertisers will see small audience sizes and lower reported conversion rates.

So what can an advertiser do to try to minimize the impact of all these changes?

How to Update Your Facebook Ads Account for Apple iOS 14

Luckily, Facebook has made some adjustments to its ad platform and has provided some guidance on how advertisers can update their Facebook Ads accounts in response to iOS 14.

Upon logging into your Facebook Ads account, you might be greeted with a popup that looks something like this:

From there, you can click the “Visit Resource Center” and you’ll be taken to a screen that looks something like the one below.  You can also access your Resource Center in the tabs, next to your Campaigns tab.

While it is nice that Facebook has provided these tasks and instructions to help you, the process can (and likely will) still be a bit daunting. But we’re here to help!

Below we’ll walk you through two of the most important changes you could make inside your Facebook Ads account:

Verify Your Domain Within Facebook Ads

The first step is to ensure any domains associated with your Facebook Ads accounts are verified within your Business Settings.

To verify your domains, go to Business Settings > Brand Safety > Domains (see screenshot below):

PLEASE NOTE: You MUST go to Brand Safety in your Business Settings in order to be able to access the Domains.  If you go to Brand Safety via any other menu item, the option to view Domains will not be available.

Once you are on the Domains page, you will see a list of domains associated with your account.  Below each domain name you will see whether that domain is “Verified” or “Not Verified”.

Click on a domain that is Not Verified, and you will see 3 options for verifying the domain: Meta-tag Verification, HTML File Upload, and DNS Verification.  Depending on your level of technical expertise, you can choose the method you are most comfortable with, though it’s usually best to have a web developer do this for you (we know a good one!).

Then, repeat the process for your remaining “Not Verified” domains (if any).

Assign Your Aggregated Events

Facebook has announced that it will process web events from iOS 14 devices using what is called Aggregated Event Measurement, which it says “supports advertisers’ efforts to preserve user privacy while running effective campaigns.”

To set up your Aggregated Events, go to Events Manager and select the pixel you want to work on. Near the bottom of the screen (see image below), you will see a tab for “Aggregated Event Measurement”. Click that tab, then click the button that says “Configure Web Events”.

You will be taken to the Web Event Configurations page (see below), where your domains will be listed. Click on the domain you want to work with, and that section will expand to reveal a button that says “Manage Events”. Click that button.

On the next page, you’ll be able to click the “Add Event” button and add up to 8 events for that pixel. Then you can drag and drop those events into the order of priority.

Once complete, click the back arrow and repeat the process for each of your domains.

Conclusion

Apple is portraying iOS 14 as a champion of privacy protection, whereas Facebook is claiming it to be hurtful to small businesses who rely on personal data for their advertising. Both sides have validity, but all we can do is position ourselves in the best possible way to be successful.

You Don’t Have To Do It Alone

If any of this seems scary to you (because it can be!), and/or if you don’t feel comfortable or confident with making these changes on your own, don’t worry! Fountain City has a highly-capable team of trained marketing and Facebook Ads professionals that can help you get your Facebook Ads account cleaned up and back on track. Say hello to us today and let us know how we can help you!

We hope this guide has been useful to you in understanding these important changes and what you can do to minimize their impact on your Facebook Ads.

 

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