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.