Facebook Marketing and iOS 14.5: What We’ve Seen So Far

A consumer using social media on an iphone.
By Pace Editor |

Apple’s release of iOS 14 has been at the center of the marketing universe for the last six months, leaving everyone asking questions like:

This blog post won’t necessarily answer each and every one of these questions, but it will provide you with insights on how your Facebook marketing could be affected by Apple’s newest update—iOS 14.5—and most importantly, some tips on how to combat any problems as the situation continues to evolve.

The Evolution of iOS 14.5 

On April 26, 2021, Apple released the long-awaited iOS 14.5 update. What changes did this update bring? Mainly, users on any iOS device with the 14.5 update will be given the chance to opt out of being tracked on the associated apps.

So, what does this mean for marketers? Simply, we will have to receive users’ permission through the ATT (AppTrackingTransparency) framework to track users or access their devices’ advertising identifiers.

I’ll delve into how this update will most likely affect Facebook Marketing, specifically in terms of generating leads or conversions a bit more a little later, but first here’s a list of app tracking examples that would be affected by the latest iOS updates straight from the source, Apple:

  • Targeted ads
  • Location and email sharing
  • Third-party data sharing and retargeting
  • Third-party SDK placement

As you can see, the overarching theme here is user privacy, and what this update boils down to is that all apps are now required to ask users for their permission to track them across apps and websites.

To learn more about the broader challenges and opportunities associated with the iOS 14 update, check out our resident web tracking expert, Eric Westerman’s, insightful blog post Cookiemageddon, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Embrace the iOS 14 Tracking Updates.

The Retort: How Facebook Has Adjusted to the iOS 14.5 Release Thus Far

Facebook has taken a couple of steps to combat Apple’s iOS 14.5 update, including providing a variety of new “Common Support Topics” articles within their Business Help Center on multiple topics aimed at helping marketers navigate these changes from new ad creation limitations to targeting limitations and beyond.

Perhaps among the most important “Common Support Topics” articles is one on Aggregated Event Measurement, which allows marketers to start processing pixel conversion events from iOS 14.5 devices; giving advertisers the ability to run effective ads and getting the same level of tracking results as they used to—before the update—while still complying with Apple’s new requirements.

The Aftermath: The Likely Effects of iOS 14.5 on Facebook Marketing

At first sight, it looks as if there are two sitting ducks that could be the most deeply affected by the iOS 14.5 updates:

1. eCommerce Businesses: eCommerce businesses that rely on Facebook Marketing to generate conversions could possibly see large decreases in reported metrics as related to the pixels tracking Facebook is currently using. 

With over 80% of all U.S. social media referrals to eCommerce/retail sites being generated by Facebook, limiting the tracking and targeting capabilities will no doubt have a negative effect on all eCommerce business. To put it simply, imagine that you sell oranges and 80% of your customer base is generated by directly speaking with those who pass by your orange store. Now imagine that same 80% suddenly stop walking past your store and instead begin to walk on the other side of the street. Technically, you can still speak with—perhaps yell to would be more accurate—and target these customers, but it’s definitely going to require an increase in general effort and more marketing tactics.

This is the problem eCommerce businesses could now face while using Facebook Marketing. It won’t be impossible for them to generate conversions from Facebook Marketing, but it will require more effort and advertising expertise.

Note: The biggest single update to reporting with this new Apple update is that users should see fewer view-through conversions being reported. Historically, depending on the account and campaign type, it’s not been abnormal for 25%–50% of Facebook’s reported conversions to be view-through (rather than click-through).

2. Retargeting and Remarketing Campaigns: Due to the new reporting limitations—targeting and tracking users using third-party cookies—these types of campaigns could see as big as a 60% decrease in effectiveness. With users being able to opt out of tracking, advertisers are limited in their ability to generate retargeting ads that, simply put, follow the user from their site to Facebook or other social platforms and networks.

There’s no denying that eCommerce businesses and retargeting/remarketing campaigns have been dealt a terrible hand, but I don’t necessarily believe it’s the end to both. Trust me, there’s still hope! There are many options available to generate your own retargeting list and other ways to generate eCommerce business using Facebook Marketing, but I’ll leave that for another blog post.

A Silver Lining? Yes, But It Depends on Where You Stand

We’re starting to see many small businesses and smaller advertisers leave Facebook Marketing as a result of the iOS 14.5 updates. If this trend continues, we can potentially see:

  • A decrease in all costs (CPC, CPM, CPA, CPL, etc.) due to a considerable reduction in competition across ad spend on the platform.
  • Facebook Marketing becoming the go-to for expert advertisers. Marketers with an expertise and deep understanding of how to build integrated media campaigns using Facebook Business/Ad Manager could come out on top at the end of all this confusion.

Facebook Marketing is set up to use data to provide personalized ads and support all forms of businesses. With this update, the autopilot-style campaigns a majority of small businesses run—predominantly due to a lack of resources—will become obsolete or generate little return. If you’re a small-business owner and hiring a marketing expert is out of budget, I strongly encourage you to read up on the three steps in the next section to combat these updates.


3 Steps to Combat the iOS 14.5 Updates on Your Facebook Marketing

The iOS 14.5 updates are a reality, and they’re here to stay. They’re also just the very beginning of an ever-evolving digital marketing landscape, and it’s still too early to truly understand the full effects of the new iOS on Facebook Marketing. Nevertheless, here are three steps you can take to better navigate these changes in the meantime:

1. Keep Learning and Get Ahead: Do your research and try to understand as much as you can with everything having to do with this update. Here are some specific articles from Facebook’s Business Help Center to get you started:

I also encourage you to spend more time using the platform and to not ever set up campaigns and leave them on autopilot; it’s not worth it. Creating a truly successful campaign requires daily, weekly and monthly optimizations that include but are not limited to budget updates, copy adjustments, bid strategy, content rotations, tracking updates and testing. 

2. There’s Power in First-Party Cookies: Apple’s updates will not affect Facebook’s first-party cookies, meaning that data collected on the platform (likes, shares, etc.) is still available and usable for audience creation. Use first-party cookies to your advantage by creating lead generation forms and retargeting your own generated list on Facebook.

3. Increase Both the Quantity and Quality of Your Content: Partnering with an amazing storytelling agency (ahem, like Pace!) can help you build out full funnels within the Facebook platform, which can lead to a higher CTR, create an increase in conversions and help you establish a genuine brand voice.

Need more convincing? 

  • Why increase quantity? Marketing on Facebook can be a numbers game, meaning that the more content you use, the higher ROI you receive. This is mostly because Facebook will always prefer fresh over older content for its members. Another reason for increasing the quantity of your content is that it helps with awareness because more content helps you stay top-of-mind with customers.  
  • Why increase quality? An increase in quantity alone with low-quality content can have a negative effect on your campaign result. Your ads need to be engaging, be informative and blend into the Facebook platform/network as if they’re organic content. This is extremely important because in most cases this will be your first interaction with potential customers, and you want to leave an impression that leads the customer to the next step in the funnel.

Despite the many uncertainties that remain, these three steps can help you stay ahead of the curve.

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