Apple’s latest update to iOS 14 has sent shockwaves throughout the advertising world, and brands that advertise on Facebook—a.k.a. pretty much everyone —are right at the epicenter of this change. Although the initial impact could be minimal for many, it’s clear that the battle between iOS 14 and Facebook Ads is just getting started.

With big changes in data collection and privacy settings, the update is sure to have some kind of impact on your advertising performance no matter what you do. However, those that fail to take immediate action will surely feel it most. 

In this article, I’m going to walk you through the steps you need to take ASAP in order to soften the blow and—if all goes well—enable your business to continue advertising profitably on Facebook.

How Apple’s iOS 14 Update Will Impact Your Facebook Ads

According to Facebook, the iOS 14 updates will impact how Facebook receives and processes events from the pixel and other tools. Once the update is in effect, Facebook will configure domains to send no more than eight events each. Ad sets that are optimizing for more than eight events will be paused. 

The update also includes big changes in privacy. The new policy prohibits certain data collection and requires all apps in the App Store to receive users’ permission before tracking activity. Users’ will be shown a prompt allowing them to opt in or out of tracking, and we can be sure that a lot of users will opt out. 

The ensuing lack of data will affect a lot more than just reporting. If there’s less data to optimize against, it might impact overall optimization on the platform. Attribution windows will change, and ads will likely be less effective due to a loss of “signals” from users who opt out of tracking.

We are still learning the complete details about what the changes will entail, but we do know that they will have a massive impact on our ability to market, track, and understand data from our potential and current customers. We’ll need to develop a greater understanding of how customers find brands and how those brands can keep them around using tools like email and post-purchase surveys.

8 Steps to Save Your Facebook Ads from the Apple iOS 14 Update

One thing we can be sure of amidst all the uncertainty is that taking action now is the best way to ensure you’re prepared. Here are eight steps we recommend taking right away to make sure your Facebook advertising stays afloat.

  1. Implement Facebook’s Conversion API (CAPI).

This helps you track actions completed on your site without relying on cache-based pixel events. You can do this via Shopify or manually with Google Tag Manager

  1. Verify your domain.

This ensures you’re set up and “official” to Facebook.

  1. Calculate your delayed attribution multipliers.

What this means is that you should divide the 28-day Website Purchases Conversion Value by the 1-day Website Purchases Conversion Value. This will help you to understand what percentage of your conversions take place after 7 days.

  1. Decide which eight events you’ll track for conversions.

You can customize your events in the Events Manager. This is essential to keeping your ad sets from being turned off.

  1. Prepare yourself for reporting that will be very different.

Facebook has already removed its default 28-day attribution window. All accounts now revert to a 7-day attribution as the default setting. Yes, it’s unfortunate that we now have a much more limited view of campaign performance over a longer period of time, but there’s a silver lining. 

Advertisers shouldn’t have exclusively been relying on 28-day in the first place. It’s a wide conversion window that often resulted in Facebook overstating campaign performance. To speak plainly, it enabled Facebook to take credit for way too many conversions. It made Facebook look great, while minimizing other competing channels such as Google.

The silver lining is this: Advertisers are now forced to look at better, more accurate data! 

Sure, if you were benchmarking the performance of your Facebook campaigns using 28-day attribution…it might look as if your results have dropped off a cliff. But in reality, many advertisers were relying on data that made Facebook performance look much better than it actually was.

Moving along, Facebook will now rank your chosen eight conversion events and provide reporting accordingly. For example, if a user completes multiple events such as “add to cart” and “purchase,” Facebook will only report the event with the higher priority.

  1. Prepare for reporting that will be less complete.

Some attribution windows will only have partial reporting, and metrics will not include all events from iOS 14 devices. Facebook will provide an annotation to let you know when the metrics are only partial, so you will at least be aware that the reporting is incomplete.

  1. Install a post-purchase attribution survey tool.

You will absolutely need to do this in order to understand the true impact of Facebook and Instagram ads on your sales funnel. One we like is Prove It Post-Purchase Surveys

  1. Start tracking performance in other platforms.

Using third-party tracking tools will help you get as much data as you can in this new reality. The free way to do this is to use Google Analytics and make sure that all of your ads have UTMs attached to them. 

If you have a sizable advertising budget then we recommend looking into more advanced tracking and attribution tools. Some we like are WickedReports, MixPanel, Woopra and Optimizely. For Shopify-specific reporting, we recommend Oribi.

Why the Apple iOS 14 Update Isn’t as Bad as It Sounds

So far this article has focused on a lot of gloom and doom. But there are reasons to be optimistic! The impact of Apple iOS and Facebook Ads isn’t going to be as bad as it might sound. The biggest impacts for most direct response advertisers are:

    • Reporting will be delayed for up to 3 days.
    • Reporting will be based on the time a conversion occurs, rather than when an impression occurs.
    • There won’t be support for age/gender/platform breakdowns.
    • Attribution will change to 7-day click vs 28-day click, and 1-day view vs 7-day view.
    • Retargeting pools are likely to be smaller.

None of that is ideal, but it isn’t the end of the world either. And I’ve said it a couple of times already, but it bears repeating: Being prepared is the best way to make sure the update has as little impact as possible.

Must-Read Resources

For more information on how this update will affect your business, read this informative article from Facebook. You can also check out this developer blog post for more of the technical information you’ll need to make sure your Facebook Ads account is ready for the Apple update.