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Did iOS 14 Make Facebook Advertising Obsolete?

Did iOS 14 Make Facebook Advertising Obsolete?

With social media trending to hit 4.1 billion users by 2025 and more than 180 million businesses leveraging Facebook to support sales and marketing goals, experts believe Apple’s iOS 14 update is just the start of the era involving new privacy laws and regulations. But what exactly is the iOS 14 update and why did Zuckerberg and friends initially freak out?

Well, lots of brands (small businesses included) rely on social media, like that from Facebook, to reach niche audiences. Advertisers and brands have become accustom to selling dog leashes to dog owners, wedding flowers to people planning weddings, and high rise jeans to...well you get the point. For nearly a decade, brands have been able to reach consumers who are actually interested in their products, cutting through the noise that once existed.

With privacy on the forefront of most digital conversations and industry experts (like Zuckerberg and friends) scratching their heads wondering how many Apple users will opt-out of third-party data tracking, we’ve been busy setting our clients up for success, ensuring social strategies and Facebook ads are appropriately armed for the data reporting shift.

As we talk privacy throughout this article, I’m curious: do you prefer to see ads for products you’re interested in or have you made the decision to opt out of data tracking? 

What’s up with the iOS 14 update?

Aside from being Apple’s biggest update, iOS 14 gives Apple users the choice to opt out of data tracking, on iOS14, iPadOS14, and tvOS 14. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention, users won’t have the prompted option to opt-out on any apps on Apple’s own platforms. 

Fun! Finally, privacy for everyone, well Apple users that is. Ehhh…. not sure “fun” is how Mark Zuckerberg would describe the update. Joking aside, the option is Apple’s attempt to protect a percentage of users from brands who have historically been known to misuse Facebook user data.

What happens if someone opts of third-party app tracking?

Apple’s update will force many to pivot away from comfort zones they’ve grown accustomed to using to influence business strategies, sales goals, and set marketing budgets.

Change isn’t always a bad thing, though. I believe small businesses will be able to leverage the privacy shift as an opportunity to learn a new way of achieving strategies, sales goals and setting budgets; and perhaps be even more profitable than before. Why the rose-colored lenses? Because platforms like Facebook Marketplace and Instagram Shops still exist and digital marketers (like the awesome team at JH Specialty) have been consistently diving into industry trends, like the iOS 14 update, meaning we’re rarely blindsided by reporting shifts.

Oh yea, Facebook announced some big changes too.

Early in 2021, Facebook reduced the 28-day attribution to a 7-day window. The good news -- your historical attribution windows aren’t disappearing and you still have insight, just a bit smaller.

The prior attribution window allowed brands to access the detailed actions consumers took 28 days leading up to an event or conversion. This update really isn’t surprising, given the entire digital industry is buzzing over Apple’s privacy updates.

How does a Facebook attribution window work if someone isn’t being tracked?

Technically, if a brand is solely relying on a Facebook pixel to collect events or data and a user has opted out of third-party tracking, the final reported conversion data will be skewed.

On the flip side, when a (Facebook) pixel sends conversion events like “subscribe”, “purchase”, “call”, brands will now receive at a 7-day window into the data that led up to the conversion event, as opposed to the 28-day attribution window before.

But wait, there’s more from Facebook!

To add to the timeline reduction, Facebook has also announced they will allow advertisers to track and prioritize up to 8 events per domain, including pixel events and custom conversions. Because they will be reported based on priority, you’ll want to make sure the top 8 events being tracked matter the most to your brand.

Whose social strategies are really impacted by the privacy shifts?

Depending on your industry, most advertising performed on social media will notice some sort of reported conversion shift. Does this mean those conversions are no longer happening? No, it just means the string that communicated the conversion between the two applications has been frayed.

Should you be freaking out?

Nah, just make sure you’ve taken all the appropriate steps to prepare your brand and domain, so you’re set up for success. Here are a few other ways to make sure you’re set up for success:

  • Capitalize on what still exists to understand your audience on Facebook’s platform (i.e. Conversion API)
  • Verify your website domain
  • Decide and define which 8 conversion events are most important within Facebook Business Manager.
  • Be creative! You can use polls, surveys, and quizzes to learn more about your target audience.
  • Build a Custom Audience for Facebook ads using data you’ve collected.
  • Aligning with a digital partner like JH Specialty, wouldn’t hurt either.

Are Facebook Ads still a good use of my budget?

After the initial tizzy Zuckerberg and friends displayed when Apple announced the iOS 14 updates, Facebook recently released an optimistic statement which alluded to the forecasted opinion that Facebook may actually be in a stronger position after Apple’s iOS 14 privacy changes.

If you’re thinking, good for Facebook, how will my brand thrive while dotting our i’s and crossing our t’s? Rest assured, Facebook advertising is still a great strategy to increase brand awareness, recruit new talent, increase sales, and gather leads. Fortunately, digital marketers, like the JH Specialty team, have been diving into announcements, like the iOS 14 update since Apple announced it was coming.

We remain committed to staying ahead of the changing times and to make sure we’re leveraging the latest technology for all of the clients who rely on our expertise.

Unfortunately, not all brands/businesses are aligned with a digital marketing team who specializes in the nooks and crannies of ad optimization and retargeting campaigns. These will be the brands hit the hardest, which conveniently leads me into the perfect sales plug.

If you’re in need of a reliable digital marketing partner, give us a call. We welcome the opportunity to help you navigate and come out on top of the only thing that’s constant in digital marketing, change.