Unless you’re tech-heads like our resident digital team Andrew and Dana, you might have blocked out the noise about the release of Apple’s iOS 14. However, it’s something you actually need to know about, as it will impact your Facebook advertising.  In this blog, we look at what the changes are, how businesses can prepare and our predictions around its impact on Facebook Advertising. 

What is iOS 14 and why does it affect Facebook?

Every six months or so Apple release the latest software (iOS) for all their devices. This software will usually have a few cosmetic changes as well as some important performance upgrades. However, this time things are a little different and that’s going to impact your social advertising.

The new software gives more power to users to decide how they are tracked across the internet. This is a great thing for user privacy and data protection, but it does limit how advertisers gather data and target advertising towards Apple users.

Once users download and install the update, they will be served a pop-up prompt when they first open any app that tracks data (hint: that’s all of them!). The prompt gives users the ability to opt-in or opt-out of their data being tracked when they’re browsing online.

From the moment this prompt is shown to Apple users, advertisers will start seeing changes. Not only advertisers who run ads targeting Apple users, but every advertiser who uses the Facebook Ads system will have to adapt.

We’ll start seeing a reduced ability to effectively measure campaigns, retarget Apple users (people who have visited your website), create lookalike audiences based on behaviour and properly target conversion ads.

Facebook has been extremely vocal about its dissatisfaction with these updates because of the effect it will have on the ROI of its advertisers. Facebook released a condemning statement on these changes, stating “Apple’s new iOS 14 policy will have a harmful impact on many small businesses that are struggling to stay afloat and on the free internet that we all rely on more than ever.”

Apple, has taken a different approach and claims they are “standing up for their users” and that “users should know when their data is being collected and shared … and they should have the choice to allow that or not.”

 

How can advertisers prepare?

  1. Verify your website. To prepare for these changes, Facebook has recommended advertisers verify their domain with Facebook Business Manager. This is critical for every business that uses Facebook advertising.
  1. Choose your events. Advertisers will now be limited to track 8 web events per website (think ‘add to cart’, ‘purchase’, ‘viewed content’). You should rank these events based on their value to you, as only the higher prioritised event will be tracked if multiple events occur.
  1. Prioritise other data streams! You will still have the ability to gather your own data and use that to target your Facebook ads. Shift your focus to building a strong email database and use that data to target your ads. Facebook’s Lead Generation campaigns are a great place to start.
  1. Switch up your channels. Facebook has long been a great channel for advertisers, but it’s not the be-all and end-all. You should be looking to diversity your ad channels, look to Google, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest (hint these channels will be less impacted) and cast a wide net with your advertising spend.

Rest assured, if you’re one of our clients, we’re already working on these things.

 

What does this mean for the future of  Facebook advertising?

There is still a lot of uncertainty about what these changes will mean for the effectiveness of campaigns and your marketing spend. The good news is that all advertisers are in the same boat and will ride the wave together.

What IS certain is that as Apple users begin to opt-out of their data being tracked, Facebook will see changes across retargeting capabilities, audience sizes and reporting. As Facebook knows less about its users, the machine learning capabilities will certainly suffer, as will the functionality and tools from its Ad platform (e.g. the display campaign function).

Combined with the other changes we are seeing in the digital space with cookies, it certainly looks as though digital marketing may become less of a direct response tool and more focused on awareness building in the long term.

As with the Facebook News blackout which recently occurred (albeit, only short-lived), these software updates serve as a reminder to tap into and test an appropriate mix of channels to reach your target audience. Build a diverse strategy across multiple platforms and prioritise your own data collection methods.

Need help navigating Facebook Advertising for your brand? Get in touch!

This blog was written collaboratively by littleBIG’s digital guns, Dana Thomson and Andrew Barber.

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