Apple is making a bold move to limit targeted advertising through its app tracking transparency feature. With the latest iOS 14 update, users can decide if an app will be allowed to track their activity through a privacy prompt shown to all users – with no way around it.
The activity-tracking limitation will directly affect ad campaign targeting and optimization. But it will primarily affect social media advertising giants like Facebook who rely on user activity to provide advertisers with profitable results.
Customer privacy has always been an Apple marketing strategy focus, and this attractive privacy feature will have many users asking how to update to iOS 14. As a result, Facebook marketing experts expect to see up to a 60 percent decrease in conversions from ads for small businesses.
While the iOS 14 beta released in late March 2021 did not include this controversial update, the app tracking transparency feature finally launched on April 26, 2021. And, it seems early suspicions about this iOS 14 update may be proving true. Twelve days since the iOS 14.5 update rolled out the app tracking transparency feature, only 4 percent of mobile active users in the U.S. have allowed tracking.
With iOS 14.5 having every digital marketer on the edge of their seat, knowledge truly is power. This blog covers everything you need to know about the Apple iPhone iOS 14 update, the Apple advertising limitations that impact social media marketing, changes to Facebook marketing services and how to pivot your social media marketing Facebook strategies. We discuss:
• Understanding iOS 14
• The iOS 14 Facebook response
• How the iOS 14 update will impact social media marketing
• How to pivot your Facebook social media marketing strategy
• Preparing for the iOS 14 update
Understanding iOS 14
At its core, iOS 14 is like any other Apple iPhone iOS 14 update. Users want to know when and how to update to iOS 14 because new software updates mean more features. But it’s one particular feature in the latest iOS 14 update (specifically iOS 14.5) that has every Facebook marketing and social media marketing agency on edge.
The app tracking transparency feature will ask every iOS user if they will allow the app to track their activity. And social media strategy experts predict 50 to 90 percent will say no.
Apple’s pro-customer privacy stance has been central to Apple marketing campaigns for years, and the iOS 14 update is just the latest chapter. In fact, iOS users have had the ability to opt out of activity tracking since iOS 10, but it was buried deep in the device settings.
While this direction is not surprising, the mandatory privacy prompt is a bold move that will affect every social media strategy moving forward.
“Any mobile app that tracks a user’s data will be impacted. Apps for iOS 14 devices like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter are required to reveal what user data will be tracked and prompt users with a choice to opt in or opt out.
“If a user opts out, that app will not be able to advertise to that user effectively through remarketing. And with less visibility into the user’s activity, ads displayed to them will be less relevant,” said Rachel Czeszewski, Senior Social Media Manager at Thrive Internet Marketing Agency.
This conversation around data privacy boosts Apple marketing efforts and places Facebook in hot water as a social media advertising giant heavily reliant on user activity data.
The iOS 14 Facebook Response
Naturally, the app tracking transparency feature was heavily contested by Facebook and led to its delay and exclusion from the latest iOS 14 beta. A highly publicized (and ongoing) legal battle ensued, with Facebook saying Apple advertising “didn’t play by its own rules.” Amidst the controversy, Facebook offered solutions for its advertisers.
Czeszewski explains, “The Aggregated Event Measurement protocol for Facebook advertising was already in the works, but expedited in preparation for the iOS 14 Facebook impact. This new form of measurement gives advertisers a limit of eight conversion events ranked from most to least valuable. It also shortens the reported conversion window from 28 days to seven days, which will decrease the time ads have to optimize properly.”
Aggregated Event Measurement is Facebook’s way to “still be able to process events from people on iOS 14 devices” despite opting out of data sharing. By aggregating conversion data and limiting conversion events, Facebook can better understand how people behave on a website and match that behavior with Facebook users.
Ultimately, Facebook has to comply and every social media strategy company should understand the update’s impact to best prepare for its rollout.
How the iOS 14 Update Will Impact Social Media Marketing
Facebook marketing is taking the biggest hit from this update – along with every Facebook marketing agency and business benefiting from Facebook marketing services.
As an app used primarily on mobile, and with iOS users making up 60 percent of the U.S. mobile operating system market share, the Apple iPhone iOS 14 update significantly impacts the caliber of targeted advertising available on Facebook.
In the two weeks following the app tracking transparency launch, Flurry Analytics revealed daily opt-in rates ranging from only 4 to 6 percent for U.S. mobile active app users. This is a stark contrast from earlier estimates — that up to 40 percent of people would allow tracking. Facebook will only be able to provide personalized advertising and attribution to users who allow tracking.
While the iOS 14 update poses the biggest threat to Facebook social media marketing, the repercussions are similar for apps engaged in mobile advertising.
Here are the top four ways the iOS 14 update will impact your social media strategy:
1. Decreases Data on iOS 14 Users
Apple uses identifiers for advertisers (IDFA) to tag users and monitor their activity with anonymity. Through the iOS 14 app tracking transparency feature, the user must allow Apple to share their IDFA on a per-app basis. All app developers must trigger a privacy prompt or be removed from the App Store.
As more users are given an explicit and convenient way to opt out, the amount of information a social media strategy agency can gather about iOS 14 users will decrease. And knowing less about iOS 14 users, who comprise a large chunk of the U.S. market, will have a snowball effect on social media marketing services.
2. Affects Conversion Campaigns
Facebook marketing services rely on app tracking to follow customer activity to the point they take your desired action and convert. Most conversions happen off Facebook, such as on a third-party eCommerce site or landing page, so more opt-outs mean less visibility into your ad campaigns optimized for conversion and catalog sales.
But don’t be mistaken – conversions can still be tracked. Every Facebook marketing company needs to prioritize the eight events for Facebook to track and be sure the converting action is ranked first. Facebook will not be able to follow your events ranked second to last for users who opt-out.
3. Limits Ad Targeting and Optimization
Facebook’s ability to optimize your ads will be limited because the ad platform relies on conversion data. As an effect of limited conversion tracking, the size of your retargeting pool will also decrease. But the Aggregated Event Measurement protocol should lessen the blow. The role of a social media marketing agency is to evaluate and optimize your target audience consistently so you don’t waste money on overlapping audiences.
“One major effect of Aggregated Event Measurement on our Facebook marketing agency is that we will no longer be able to report on demographic or geographic advertising data,” said Czeszewski. The quality of your custom audience data will decrease and this limitation will affect clients dependent on this particular data.
4. Modifies Campaign Reporting
According to Czeszewski, we will no longer be able to report conversions based on a 28-day click or one-day view window. Instead, we’ll be limited to a seven-day click attribution window, which will lessen the number of conversions we can report on.
Facebook would not be able to report the conversion if your target audience did not take a converting action within seven days. This will affect businesses with multiple touchpoints and sales processes historically longer than seven days from the ad click. Every social media marketing company should expect a delay in Facebook reporting of up to three days.
How To Pivot Your Facebook Social Media Marketing Strategy
The priority of every Facebook marketing company and social media strategy agency should be to stay updated with the social media marketing Facebook impact of the iOS 14 update. Ensure your social media marketing company seeks information directly from Facebook and industry experts.
Here are some expert tips from a top Facebook marketing company:
1. Verify Your Domain on Facebook
This is a necessary step imposed by the Aggregated Event Measurement protocol. If you don’t verify the domain you’re sending your ad audience to, you can’t run conversion campaigns and modify your eight conversion events.
2. Rank Your Conversion Events
Rank your priority event first because it will be the only event you can track for users who opted out of data sharing – and this would be the purchase confirmation for most businesses. For users who opted in, all eight conversion events will still be tracked.
3. Compare Your 28-Day and Seven-Day Results
Czeszewski suggested looking back at your ad history and comparing your average number of conversions during a 28-day period to a seven-day period. “This gives you a baseline to identify true decreases in conversions once the change fully rolls out.
“It’s also beneficial to understand the percentage of iOS device users you’re advertising to and who have been visiting your clients’ websites to get a good understanding of the potential impact this change will have,” she said.
4. Consider Broad Targeting
While the iOS 14 update is expected to lessen conversion and the effectiveness of catalog sales campaigns, you still have more ways to optimize your Facebook ads. Having a broadly-targeted ad can still be successful if it’s a great ad.
“Brand awareness campaigns are already key in getting users to become familiar with a business – which tend to target broader audiences. Although relevancy may take a hit for users who opt out of tracking, they can still be targeted or retargeted if they’re subscribed to an email list for a business,” said Czeszewski.
As every social media strategy company says, changes present opportunities! You need accurate information and the right people on your side to pivot your social media marketing services successfully.
Preparing for the iOS 14 Update
More and more people will want to know how to update to iOS 14. And we can expect more privacy changes heading in a similar direction. Every social media strategy agency has a lot to learn from the Apple advertising limitations, but the biggest takeaway is that everyone needs to be ready to adapt their social media marketing Facebook strategies.
There’s No Need to Worry About the iOS 14 Update
Here’s why you shouldn’t fret about the iOS 14 update:
It Won’t Kill Advertising
“Privacy concerns have and always will be an issue. Plus, desktop advertising is not impacted by this change. We need to realign expectations and platform capabilities to continue making Facebook ads successful for millions of businesses. While we expect to see decreases in reporting total conversions, we expect other campaigns to become more valuable, such as brand awareness and email list subscriptions,” said Czeszewski.
Facebook Will Adapt
In a March 2021 statement, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was optimistic and believed they “may even be in a stronger position” if Apple’s privacy changes encourage more commerce directly on Facebook. Tech giants such as Facebook and Google don’t rely entirely on online activity and have other mechanisms in place to continue providing profitable results for advertisers. Aggregated Event Measurement is only the beginning.
Finally, Czeszewski had this to say about setting clients’ expectations: “Every advertiser is dealing with this change. What may have worked before may no longer work. We will need to experiment, try new things, get more creative and test continuously to find which ads fail and prevail. Do everything you can to prepare for the rollout and optimize your campaigns efficiently.”
Thrive Internet Marketing Agency is a Facebook marketing agency and social media strategy company you can trust to pivot your social media strategy whenever needed. As a full-service social media marketing company, we have more than 15 years of experience in search engine optimization (SEO) and all aspects of digital marketing.
Our social media marketing agency stays ahead of the curve and is your ally in adapting to the next chapter of social media marketing.
Contact us today to learn more about preparing for the iOS 14 update and optimizing your social media strategy.