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Apple Implodes Facebook Ads, Saves Human Race?





Chris Delahoz

President


As a result of the last five to six years, most people would agree that digital privacy is important, and it’d be a real fun Christmas dinner with the family to have that conversation with your crazy Aunt Maria if she tried to argue otherwise.


But digital privacy was the momentous swing behind the iOS 14 update—to give digital users more control over the data they (let’s be honest, industry fam: unknowingly) share with advertisers and media publishers. Apple has heavily marketed this update with a national ad campaign spanning television, digital, OTT, and public relations.

The unfortunate reality for social marketers is that the iOS 14 update has greatly impacted the performance of Facebook and Instagram ads. Specifically, this release negatively impacted Facebook ads in three key areas:

  • Targeting

  • Reporting

  • Optimization

If you know anything about advertising on social media, which you probably do because you’re this far down my ranting rabbit hole – those three aspects are the cornerstones to the success of your paid social media campaigns. Sucks to suck.


SO WHAT WAS THE CHANGE?


Apple has severely limited what advertisers and app developers can track in terms of user activity.

Apple provides something called “IDFA”. Which in geek means: Identifier for Advertisers, which is a unique ID number assigned to each and every iOS device. IDFA allows you to track user behavior within applications.

In April of 2021, Tim Cook, I mean Apple...released the iOS 14.5 update and turned off IDFA by default. This means you now have to manually turn on the tracking option in the settings of your phone. No one is going to do that, unless it’s your crazy Aunt Maria.


HOW DOES THE CHANGE IMPACT MARKETING?


It’s no secret that Facebook ad performance has been on the decline since 2016 (Thanks, Russia). But, now – it’s really hitting an all time low. So how does that affect the cornerstone aspects of your social media marketing? Glad you asked:

Targeting

Retargeting and Lookalike audiences have definitely been a staple of advanced Facebook advertising, and now they’re both largely unavailable or not performing well. Lots of iOS users are no longer “trackable” from Pixel codes. If your ad strategy was heavily reliant upon retargeting website visitors, you’ve likely seen a serious drop in performance. We’ll dive into combatting this issue in the next section.

Reporting

Many of us have relied on Facebook Pixel conversion metrics like ROAS to help determine the campaign's success. iOS 14.5 now graciously reports insane inaccuracies in ROAS. Which is so, so, so cool.

Have you heard of Private Click Measurement (PCM)? That’s a neat new feature that has a three-day delay in attribution data from iOS 14.5 users. Which further skews data in the Facebook Ads Manager.

Zach Stuck of Homestead Studio provides some detail on this in his Bloomberg report:

“Facebook used to capture around 95% of the sales data from clients. In one case now, there is a 57% gap between sales seen on Shopify and what Facebook is reporting.”

Optimization

This is another negatively impacted area as a result of the update. A lot of us have heavily relied on the Facebook algorithm to help optimize our campaigns. By feeding the algorithm data (conversions from your ads), it helps to serve ads to people who are similar to other users who have already converted as a result of your ad.

That’s changed. Apple now limits Facebook advertisers to eight “conversion events” (more fun data terms) per website. That’s most likely a far less amount of data points than you’re used to seeing. So now your algorithm has less data to use while optimizing. Resulting in “lesser” performance. The worst part, in my opinion, is that this change seriously affects advertisers with smaller budgets who have far fewer data points (consumer data, conversion metrics, etc).

So that’s the bad news, but you’re in luck, there is still plenty you can do to keep your campaigns on track.


We’ve taken these reactionary measures:

  • Leverage Custom Audience Lists

  • Verify Account Domains

  • Leverage Follower Pages

  • Integrate the Conversion API

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