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The Apple iOS14’s ripple effect on Brands and Advertising

It happened. Facebook Ad account administrators received the ads notification update on the 19th January 2021 or the 20th if you’re living ‘down under’:

“Apple has announced changes with iOS 14 that will impact how we receive and process events from tools like the Facebook SDK and Facebook pixel. In response to these changes, we have replaced the existing account attribution window with a new ad set attribution setting that will default to 7-day click and 1-day view starting on January 20, 2021. While these changes won’t impact ad delivery, the new default attribution setting may result in a decrease in the number of reported conversions.”

The Apple iOS14’s ripple effect on Brands and Advertising.

By Sue Prentice.

Depending where you are in the world, you’re experiencing a new view in your Facebook ads manager and it’s all thanks to Apple’s latest iOS update and their privacy legislation that impacts how users on iOS devices are tracked and their user data is shared. Or should we say not shared!

The fact is it does impact more of us than people may think, it’s no ordinary update. This time people need to think smarter.

If you’ve been following Beyond Points on Facebook you’ll have noticed that we’ve been keeping a keen eye on how privacy laws are changing and very much anticipating knock on impact they will have on marketing. We have all seen the ad blocker options pop up on Google ads and You Tube as we surf the web and as developments continue on web browsers, more and more user tracking in the form of pixels or cookies will be phased out diminishing the view an advertiser has on what is working best to deliver return on ad spend.

Around the peak of the holiday season, you may have heard about the very public war that broke out between Apple and Facebook, with Facebook making it clear it did not favour Apple’s latest compliance requirements, yet Facebook is not the only app that will be impacted by the change. In line with the constant focus and tightening of policies, it was only a few months earlier there was an outcry from Google about Australia’s Consumer Commission and a new law that fundamentally changes the way we Google. Google cried out for public appeal that ended on the 18th January, so we should hear more on this news soon. All the while this is more challenging than ever before for anyone trying to grow a brand on or offline anywhere around the world right now.

From a user standpoint, the iOS14 update gives more transparency and control on being tracked and how your data is used. Users opt in or out, blocking data sharing linked to their unique information known as the IDFA (identifier for advertisers) . To be fair, users have been able access a level of control for some time especially on Facebook, managing their visibility of contacts, sharing and advertisers. Now Apple has now fundamentally changed the game.

As of today, every user will see an auto prompt for any app that makes them aware of how they will be tracked where they need agree or disagree and are required before use, to update their preference. This is any app including Facebook, Instagram Snapchat, Uber, YouTube and others branded custom apps. And it impacts brand websites too! People, platforms, marketers and advertisers needs to make changes, similar to when the GDPR came in.

“Currently, about 70% of IOS users share their IDFA with app publishers, after this change it’s estimated that this number will drop to 10% to 15%.”

Liz Emery, Tinuiti

Below is snippet of Apple’s earlier notification on their privacy update this update:

User Privacy and Data Use

Apple has called it ‘Apples Track Tracking Transparency” , or ATT.

It’s no big surprise this will massively impact Facebook advertisers who to date have relied heavily on data in order to optimize their paid advertising strategy, and for Facebook themselves, to deliver its users a personalised user experience delivering engaging content they are actually interested in.

Facebook advertisers are not just agencies. It’s all the SME’s and start-ups and more recently large global household brands who have realised it’s where they reach people waiting to be entertained and who are willing to shop online. It’s the ‘hang out’ by choice and a logical channel to promote on. Many of these businesses rely on the digital marketing experts who are au fait with the platform to optimise their return on ad spend (we all know the the widely used acronyms ROAS or ROI), well versed in Facebook Ads manager, insights and reporting.

Let’s talk Facebook™!

Tools, targeting, optimization and measurement have and will continue to change to accommodate one of the largest changes the industry has ever seen.

As of today we no longer can see:

  • 28-day attribution – historically it’s gone too unless you’ve implemented conversion API (CAPI)
  • 7-day view through attribution is gone
  • Certain demographic data including age, sex or location
  • More than 8 conversion events per website. Note not per pixel it is per domain.
    However as of today, I do understand from direct communication with Facebook that this is 8 events per SDK and per standard pixel events.
  • It has been said any changes to events on running campaigns will be effective after 72 hour to ensure there are no reporting errors. (This is still early to be 100% certain.)
  • Attribution will have no defined window and will be last click with no time frame
  • Reporting events will be delayed by 3 days when an advertiser wants to change an event
  • App installs will not report for 24-48 hours

What Impact Does This Have?

Unrelated to the iOS14 Apple update – we’ve been keeping a keen eye on this development having heard directly from the developer team last year that in 2021 we’ll see the Facebook pixel deprecated. We can now see why! Data is truly gold and how good advertisers make their optimisations.

It would be untrue to make a clear statement on what impact it has because tech platforms, advertisers, brands and franchises, in fact, all businesses who advertise, are scrambling unprepared in many cases, and in others, ready watching to see how they will need to adapt their strategy. The upside is it is an even playing field globally.

Of course, businesses who have been nurturing their email lists are in a strong position and brands who have formed strong customer relationships will be okay.

The bottom line is the lack of visibility to the success of what’s working, who for and when and why is the most impactful change for advertisers, curbing the previously tight control to optimise for return on ad spend.

Aggregated event measurement will limit the number of events that can be sent by a domain and used for ads. Ads will be paused if they are optimizing for conversion events no longer available in the top 8. These 8 conversions are initially selected by Facebook on what makes sense per ad account however ad account administrators do have control to adjust these inside Business Manager. You can read more about Aggregated Event Measurement from Facebook here

Good standing history and a consistent good data reporting processes historically, will catapault competitiveness over new advertisers and or product launches hitting the market when it comes to paid media.

Campaign Set Up.

  • App campaigns limited to 1 ad partner per ad account
  • Ad campaigns are limited to 9 campaigns and 5 ad sets per account
  • 8 events account limitation ranked on priority will be reported
  • Value optimisation will move to event manager and value set will need to be enabled ( we have already seen this in the accounts)

Optimization and Measurement

  • Last click attribution only
  • Lookback is 7 day not 28 day
  • With the ATT change now in effect, Facebook will use aggregated event measurement for web events for iOS14 users
  • When a user opts out of data tracking on iOS14, the single highest ranked event you have prioritized for your domain will be attributed to that user within 7 day window
  • Page insights will exist as they are inside Facebook
  • Reporting will be campaign level only and Ad set and Ads are modelled data
  • Retargeting is expected to see a lesser result in performance prior to the update
  • Audiences can still be built on actions inside the platform such as video views, post saves, engagements etc
  • In App tracking will still be identifiable and tracked by Facebook


What Massive Action Do We Need To Take NOW?

Businesses need to note as certain steps that need to happen:

1. Domain name verification. Oh and by the way this was yesterday’s news! You can see this inside your business manager. If you’d like a copy of how to do this, please message “Verification” to us at Beyond Points on Messenger and we’ll send the PDF how to right away.
Alternatively you can learn more here

2. Configure 8 conversion events per account that can be tracked. Go to your events manager to do this. Note if you change these they take 72 hours to come into effect so think twice about it mid campaign. Set up your 8 events here.

3. Implement Conversion API to be able to track historical data and be aligned with Facebook’s developer focus on managing data moving forward to best optimise your budgets and results.

4. For Apps – Update your SDK to 8.1. Note that Users of your App will have to accept both your App’s privacy and the Facebook Apps privacy for your ads to report effectively.

5. Ensure your strategy is collecting emails for custom load audiences wherever possible!

6. Drive omni channel re-engagement because retargeting no doubt is impacted.

What is Domain Name Verification on Facebook?

This is a business manager setting that allows you to claim ownership of your domain and prevents misuse of your domain. In easy terms, it shows that you have control and are taking action to stop the spred of misinformation. In essence it’s adding a DNS TXT entry to your DNS record. The precise steps to add a DNS TEXT entry to your DNS Record may vary by the domain host. Note you only need to use ONE domain verification method.

What is Conversions API?

Conversions API is a revision of what Facebook previously called Server Side API. Server side API is what has allowed events and customised actions to be passed from a website back to Facebook for attribution. If this sounds ‘over the top techie’ it is usually left to your developer or ad administration team to configure on you are right.
Conversions API is a further development on Server side API and is a simplified installation process. It is designed to be an improvement on the data allowed for Facebook advertisers to gain insights from your website. It works because it gets around ad blockers, designed to block cookie data on the browser side, instead passing data back to Facebook from the server side.
Facebook’s adjustment to the iOS14 update means without Conversions API installed, historical data will not be available.
It is worth noting it is independent to the Facebook pixel.

How do you implement Conversions API?

Shopify Installation.
Shopify is perhaps the simpler of all when it comes to integration.

1. Go to Shopify as the business owner or screen share if you’re the ad partner.
2. The business owners should login to Facebook for Step 2 . TIP – don’t let an outside person do this step in order to hold the data indefinitely in your business.
3. Next follow the prompts making sure you TURN ON automatic advanced matching which is key to matching data of site to Facebook engagers.
4. We suggest accepting all functions offered when it comes to selecting what Shopify is allowed to do.
5. Once Facebook is set up, you go down to Settings > Go to Data Sharing Settings to install Conversions API.
6. Here ensure tracking is enabled firstly.
Select Maximum for the tracking Level.
Ensure the tracking pixel shown is YOURS! If not you can disconnect it, and follow the prompt to link the right pixel. )We recommend using both the pixel and Capi right now).
When completed, you may notice the CONFIRM button is still greyed out. This means you need to accept the terms and conditions for Facebook commerce in the Commerce Settings. From here, CONFIRM data sharing setttings.
You’re now set up for Conversions API!

7. Transitioning from standard pixel tracking on your site to Conversions API does require you to remove the Universal Facebook ID in your main Shopify Preference settings as it’s effectively operating now within this Conversion API set up. If you originally hard coded the pixel to the site, this will need to be removed to avoid duplicate attribution reporting.


Installation on Woocommerce and other customer platforms, please see this comprehensive list here.

The Best Way Forward.

In our view, this is a level playing field, we all have much to learn. Our belief is never more will creative thinking be more critical in both the ad creative and the campaign set up to work on delivering that conversion with a 7-day window where applicable. For longer sales cycles and high ticket, close observation and data reporting will be key find indicators that tell a story over time.

All is not lost as we will get some data tracking ability and insight it’s just not going to be as granular or familiar as it was. Facebook is hard at work committed to helping users understand the data and what we need to do as digital marketers. Strategic thinking in campaign set up is paramount too if considering the importance of segmentation, campaign number limitations and the priority of applicable conversions.

It’s important to close out with knowing, when a user opts out on iOS14 prompt, they are opting out of being able to track them using unique identifiers across the web and not within the app itself. Custom audiences will still be allowed so hey, get your smart thinking cap on and think creatively!