What is the Facebook iOS update?

In late 2020, Apple announced that with changes to iOS 14 it would affect how events and conversions are reporting with the Facebook advertising interface, essentially blocking visibility on conversions due to data protection.

Read the Facebook update on the change

In April 2021 this rolled out and Apple users were given a prompt to either allow or disallow websites, apps as well as other third part data trackers to share data, such as location, email addresses and website engagement.

How does the iOS update effect your Facebook / Instagram ads

Since the rollout there are a few ways that things are impacted:

  • Limited reporting data from the Facebook pixel – The biggest change from the update means that if you’re using a pixel to record conversions and events then you’re going to start to see less conversions. With less conversion data, then Facebook naturally has less data to be able to optimise your campaigns against the objectives.
  • Ad events limits – You can now only have 8 pixel events configured so now is a good time to reassess priorities if you have more than that. The most important events, are usually purchase or leads, rather than add to cart, view cart, view content etc.
  • Attribution impact – There are lots of changes to attribution windows with less data available now. 28-day click-through, 28-day view-through and 7-day view-through attribution windows will no longer be supported. Instead lower attribution windows are needed; 1 day click, 7 day click, 1-day click and 1-day view and 7-day click and 1-day view. For businesses with a longer lead time / decision making process, it provides more of a challenge but there’s still workarounds.
  • Domain verification required – You may need to verify your domain with Facebook. A bit of a tedious process but once sorted can mean there will be no interruption to ads.

What can we do as advertisers?

There’s lots we can do as advertisers post the iOS update, and the rollout has presented a good opportunity to revisit strategy, campaign set ups and how to get the most out of the advertising platform.

UTM tracking

Whilst not every single conversion goal is picked up directly through the pixel and in the Facebook reporting tools, if you effectively use UTM tracking then you can get a wealth of data directly in Google Analytics and use this to see which aspects of your ads are working best, and delivering against key performance indicators.

Note – If Facebook Ads doesn’t give you last click conversions, which is common in lots of businesses, then you can still judge the success of campaigns/targeting/creative by using multi channel funnel and assisted conversion reports.

CRM software

In the same way that a URL can be used to still send valuable data back to Google Analytics through the UTM, a CRM software can still be effective too. Software such as Salesforce or Hubspot can provide data on missing

You can also use CRM software to upload offline conversion data into the Facebook platform to be used as part of custom and looklike audiences.

Test Android only targeting

A tactic that we’re using recently is to try ad sets which are solely targeting android devices. The reason for this is, with less conversion data available for iOS devices it means that campaigns take longer to get out of the learning phase set by Facebook Ads. When in the learning phase, it can take longer to reach optimum performance, so by putting Android into it’s own targeting groups there’s more data available, and quicker.

It’s working really well from a performance perspective so far. Just need to be mindful that the audience on android devices may be different to those on iOS depending on the brand.

Review campaign structures

Whilst granular campaign structures once worked quite well – such as different campaigns and ad sets for different lookalike %’s, different interest targeting and custom audiences from retargeting. With less data, there is less to be able to optimise towards so it makes it harder to see success from lots of small volume campaigns. Now is a good time to review structures and think about how different targeting can be merged into the same ad sets or campaigns.

Last words….

In summary, the change with iOS is quite a big shake up which as all things with the bigger powers is out of our control but there are things we can do to limit the impact, and continue to see great success with Facebook and Instagram Ads.