Apple announced that their new iOS 14.5 update will begin requiring apps in the app store to show a prompt on iOS devices after app install specifically asking iOS users with a pop-up if they’d like opt-in to allowing apps to track their activities. Users need to click-through the prompt to enable tracking. This change is part of what Apple calls their App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework. The default behavior is that users will not be tracked. In the absence of aggressive messaging, it is assumed the majority of users will be impacted by this change. The update was released midday on Monday, April 26th.
Apple also introduced an updated version of SKAdNetwork. This is a mobile app attribution sdk and framework that app developers can use to ensure that they are taking a privacy safe approach.
These are critical changes for Facebook Ad campaigns and they weaken the algorithms that are typically used for Ad tracking. Millions of small businesses are impacted because they rely on Facebook Ad targeting to reach their niche audiences.
What happens when the user opts-in?
Apple will give the app access to the IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers). This is a unique identifier for a mobile device. Advertisers can use the IDFA for ad targeting and metrics on the effectiveness of digital advertising and digital marketing on a user level across mobile devices that are running the Apple Operating system.
Why is Apple making this change?
Apple has been continuously introducing new features to improve user privacy and give users more control by reducing the data collection of Ad Networks.
In response Facebook created some new functionality and repurposed some existing tools to comply with the ATT framework from Apple's iOS. The major changes for advertisers that use Facebook Ads were:
Only 8 events per domain can be used.
Event aggregation: Only 1 of those 8 events, based on prioritization, will be passed back to FB.
App campaigns: Limited number of campaigns/audiences/ads that can be run for iOS campaigns. Potentially delayed reporting.
28 day click and 7 day view attribution windows were deprecated. 7 Day Click is the new default.
Loss of breakdown data: Age, Gender, Impression Device, etc.
What Actually Happened:
Despite all the red banners and warnings, as expected, Facebook did have some built in defaults. Loosely speaking, if you had been running Ads to the same website and using the same events for a while, these were automatically prioritized and continued to run normally.
Initially, while there was some on-platform volatility and the loss of detailed breakdowns was a hindrance, campaign performance was not that different.
Fast-forward to the week of June 7th and that’s all changed. So what happened?
Release Timelines and Theories:
April 26th: iOS 14.5 is released. A few weeks later and the estimated adoption rate is extremely low compared to other updates (sub 20%). Apple deliberately seemed to holding back from pushing the update to all customers. Potentially because of the large change to the ecosystem from ATT and/or a serious bug that in some cases wouldn’t show the prompt to users at all.
May 3rd: iOS 14.5.1 is released. Among other things it fixed the ATT bug. This was also slow-rolled by Apple with very low adoption rates.
May 24th: iOS 14.6 is released. This had some updates and bug fixes, but more importantly Apple started pushing this one around the week of June 7th. On the 7th there was around a 20% adoption rate, but by the end of the week it was over 50%. Meaning ATT and its impact on Facebook was finally “here”.
In the past few weeks, we’ve seen and heard from other advertisers that there’s been an increase in conversion rate volatility. Likely at least partially attributable to the majority of iPhone users updating to iOS14.5+.
What can you do?
If you haven’t yet, follow Facebook’s steps to verify your domain and prioritize events. Be mindful any changes/updates to events can result in a 72 hour pause.
Lean on back-end user data collection and beef up back-end reporting of your own first party data. This will become more valuable to capture events no longer captured by Facebook and to build custom audiences. For example, you could use phone numbers or email addresses as an identifier or collect relevant demographic information.
Use Custom Conversions: These will fire a custom event based on a URL string e.g. “/purchase-confirmation.” While you cannot optimize towards these conversion events, they can still track data without needing to configure or prioritize an event in the events manager.
Watch out for shrinking retargeting audiences. Less data passed back means your retargeting pools will be smaller.
Start using Facebook’s Conversion API: More and more 3rd party tools are becoming available to set this up including Shopify and soon Google Tag Manager (GTM). This is where Facebook is putting a lot of future tracking resources and optimization (instead of the Facebook pixel) as it will fill the data gaps left by ATT.
While the immediate negative impact is being felt by most social media advertisers and mobile app developers, there are still opportunities out there for those who stay ahead of the game. We recommend adapting to the changes as soon as possible. Given how the industry is evolving, these types of changes will likely to come to Android, Google Ads and Amazon Advertising soon as well when those platforms try to match Apple's move.
How can Chatdesk help?
Connect with partner Blue Land for additional guidance and support.
Use Chatdesk Teams to drive conversions on Facebook and Instagram Ads by 10%+ by providing fast responses to customer questions and moderating spam and negative comments on your ads 24/7. Launch a free trial or schedule a demo.
Use Chatdesk Trends to analyze customer feedback on your social channels including TikTok and comments on Facebook and Instagram Ads. You can also use this to analyze email, chat, reviews, and surveys. Get a free dashboard or schedule a demo.
Subscribe to our newsletter
Excellent! You've been subscribed
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.