Apple iOS 14.5 Tracking Updates – What Does This Mean For Your Facebook Ads?

May 21, 2021

Apple’s new iOS 14.5 update has caused quite the stir at Facebook HQ, resulting in a series of webinars, emails and articles prompting users to take action and making it clear that ads will be impacted. But now that this update has rolled out and is beginning to take effect on more devices, we have to ask – is this change really going to have a significant impact, or has Facebook been a little overzealous with the warnings?

The new update comes with Apple’s iOS 14.5 and is called ‘AppTrackingTransparency’ (ATT). It allows users to choose to opt-out of tracking on apps.

To explain how it works, your device has an Advertising Identifier (AI) which collects information about you as you use your device including; your name, email address and just about any identifying data you can think of. This data is then used to target ads to you. This is how you’re able to Google something and then immediately receive Facebook ads related to the thing you Googled.

If a user doesn’t allow tracking on an app, that app is not permitted to track them and they can’t share that users information with others. According to Apple’s explanation:

‘If a user declines to give permission for the app to track activity, the app is prevented from accessing the device’s Advertising Identifier.’

If they can’t access the AI, then they can’t see any data on that user and therefore can’t give them personalised advertising.

Apps could still track users within their app using other means, however, but it may not be as accurate or detailed.

Case Study:

The writer of this article declined permission for Facebook to track her as soon as it was possible. After a few weeks, she noticed an increase in “random” ads on Facebook and very few “personalised” ones (if any) as well as a reduced number of ads in the feed.

Compared to others in the office with either an Android, non-updated Apple device or have allowed tracking, who report their ads are the same as they have always been; frequent and somewhat personalised.

So, what does this mean for your Facebook ads?

Your ad targeting and measurement will be affected.

Because this will limit the amount of information Facebook can access, advertisers won’t be able to target their ads (as effectively) to those that opt-out of tracking. This means that you may see a decrease in ad performance when you’re looking at Ads Manager.

Facebook has already started rolling out prompts in Ads Manager to inform advertisers about using certain audiences, including Custom Audiences built with CRM & databases. Because these audiences rely on names, numbers and email addresses to find users, Facebook won’t be able to deliver ads to those people who have switched off tracking.

In simple terms; any Ad Sets that target CRM data exclusively will see a decrease in performance as iOS 14.5 users won’t see that ad.

And since Facebook will have limitations and can’t guarantee accuracy when it comes to ad measurement, they have decided to discontinue Facebook Attribution (their ad measurement and conversion reporting tool) from August 2021.

Only 8 specified conversion events can be tracked.

If you’re running ads with the Conversions objective, or even if you use Events Manager, you’ll notice that your options for web events to track are now very limited. You can still track web conversions using your Facebook Pixel, however, you’ll need to verify your domain to prove that you own it and you can only track 8 events that you need to specify.

This is called “Aggregated Event Measurement” where you’ll need to specify the 8 events that matter most to your business, and then you can build a Conversion campaign with one of those 8 events.

In a nutshell, you won’t be able to get as specific with your ad targeting as you could before. As people turn tracking off (which reports have suggested is happening more as users are in favour of this update) you won’t be able to target your ads to these people. If your ad reaches these users, it’ll be by chance.

You also won’t be able to rely on Ads Manager to give you accurate reports on the effectiveness of your ad. You may start to see a decline in performance and you won’t be able to control or fix it as easily as you could have done before.

What can you do to minimise the impact on your Facebook Ads?

Verify your website domain and set up your 8 aggregated events.

By verifying your domain, you’re telling Facebook that you own your website and so they can better report your website conversions. You can do this by following Facebook’s documentation.

Once you have verified your domain, you can navigate to Events Manager where you’ll see the new ‘Aggregated Event Measurement’ tab. Here you can set up 8 events that you want to measure.

Without this, you won’t be able to run any Conversions optimised ads and any ads that don’t use an aggregated event will be turned off.

NOTE: Doing this only helps with ad measurement and allows you to run ads with the Conversion objective, it won’t necessarily make your ad be delivered to specific people.

Broaden your ad targeting.

Considering all that we’ve talked about, any strategies that include targeting specific users (like CRM databases or users with specific interests) may see reduced effectiveness. So do the opposite!

If you notice your ads aren’t performing well, try increasing your audience size rather than reducing it. For Ad Sets that target CRM and database audiences, include other audiences like Website Visitors and Lookalikes too. By including as many audiences as possible, you’ll have more chances to reach people who still have tracking turned on.

When it comes to demographic targeting or targeting users based on interests, broaden that too. Include more demographics or interests and widen the radius that you’re targeting (as much as possible and where it makes sense).

Also, remember our case study; users with tracking off will receive “random” ads, so the broader you target, the higher chance you’ll have at being one of those “random” ads.

Optimize your ads to deliver to Android or iOS devices below 14.5.

Many advertisers are already beginning to shift their strategies to target Android devices only. Why? Well, if you can’t beat ‘em… target the competitor?

Running ads that deliver to all devices could cost you as you’ll be “gambling” on ads that won’t deliver to a wide number of people. If you focus all of your ad spend on Android devices or older iOS devices, you’ll be using your spend much more effectively as your ads will be delivered to those devices and users.

You’ll find this option in “Placements” in Ad Sets. Click “show more options” just below the placements. Here, you can choose the device and OS versions you want to target. If you’re targeting older iOS devices, select all OS versions below 14.5.

To sum it up:

This can and will have an impact on many Dealerships that rely on advertising strategies that target specific users. However, this doesn’t mean that your ads won’t be delivered at all (for now). Businesses still have a large audience of users that will see your ads as normal, that being Android users. And remember, there are still iOS users (albeit a small percentage) who prefer to keep tracking on and they will still see your ads too.

With a strategy change, some patience and an open mind you can still make your Facebook and Instagram ads work for you. It doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom.

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