There’s been plenty of noise in the digital marketing agency world about the upcoming iOS 14 update that’s being rolled out across Facebook in the near future.
However, there don’t seem to be any resources that explain the changes in simple terms for any business owners who aren’t fully versed with the intricacies of Facebook marketing.
That’s why we created this overview.
If you own or run a small business and you’re currently using Facebook Ads as part of your marketing strategy, you’re going to want to read this.
The iOS 14 update is an operating system update for Apple devices such as the iPhone and iPad.
The current operating system is on version 14.4 (at the time of writing), but from version 14.5 Apple is going to be introducing the App Tracking Transparency framework.
This new feature requires apps to receive the user’s permission to track their activity or access their device’s advertising identifier.
While this might sound like a relatively small change, when you consider that there are 1.65 billion Apple devices in active use, that’s a significant amount of data that could become unavailable almost overnight.
This will affect many of the apps and social media platforms we all use on a regular basis, but Facebook looks like it’s going to be one of the platforms hit the hardest by these new changes.
Facebook’s power comes from its ability to process vast amounts of data based on the actions its users take all over the web.
Sites install tracking pixels to verify visits and actions on the site from paid ads, but this also allows Facebook to track users across the web and establish similarities and patterns between them, making their ad targeting much more effective.
Their algorithms essentially sort people into categories based on their interests and browsing habits, and the ad platform allows publishers to advertise directly to these groups of people.
With more users opting out of the tracking, Facebook will have less visibility over how its users are behaving on its platform and on other sites and apps, which means that it could become more difficult to target users based on their interests.
In the short term, Facebook has developed its Aggregated Event Measurement protocol as a new way of tracking and measuring the web events from iOS 14 users, but it’s still unclear just how much of an impact it’s going to have on Facebook’s Ad performance.
While the wider impact of the iOS 14 update is still uncertain, we do know some of the ways small businesses are going to be affected, at least in the short term.
Sites are going to be limited to a maximum of 8 events per domain.
While this is unlikely to impact smaller businesses who use Facebook’s conversion-based campaigns to drive purchases on their site, larger sites that track user actions on a more granular level will need to reduce the number of events on their site.
When a user does opt-out of tracking, there is still going to be a small amount of data that Facebook, and other apps, can use in order for their apps to function properly.
However, Facebook will only receive information relating to the highest-priority conversion event a user takes on your site, but this data could take several days to come across to their platform, or even not appear at all.
In either case, Facebook Ads’ ability to optimize effectively is going to be affected negatively.
Because of the lack of data that’s now going to be available for processing, Ad campaigns that are running during the change-over period could see a decline in their effectiveness.
While it’s still too early to know how much of an impact this update is going to have, there are some things all small businesses should be doing in preparation for the iOS 14 update.
Verifying your businesses domain is already the recommended best practice if you’re using Facebook Ads, but up until this point, there hasn’t been much of an impact in letting a third party, such as an agency or consultant, handle this process on your behalf.
However, with the upcoming changes, verifying the domain gives your business authority over which conversion events are eligible for your domain.
Access to these conversion events should then be shared with any companies you’re working with.
Because of the limit of 8 conversion events per domain, businesses need to take the time to prioritise their conversion events from most important to least important.
For most sites, a purchase or lead conversion is going to be the most valuable, so it makes sense to work backwards from these to include all of the events you want to track on your domain.
Remember, if someone has opted out of tracking then you will only receive the information of the most valuable action they take on your site, based on the order you set in Facebook, so make sure this is accurate.
Facebook Ads have been the driving force behind the growth of countless businesses over the last few years, but with these changes coming into effect, it’s unclear whether that’s going to be the case moving forward - at least in the short term.
Facebook Ads represent a huge revenue stream for Facebook, so it’s unlikely that they’re going to let these changes impact their business, but there could still be an impact on the effectiveness of the ads.
If you use Facebook Ads for your business, it’s going to be worth exploring other advertising platforms to ensure your business is protected if there is a significant drop in performance.
With more than 2.7 billion monthly active users, Facebook has become such a large part of everyday life that it’s hard to imagine a world without it.
However, many people said the same thing when MySpace was popular.
While we don’t think for one second that Facebook is going to disappear, these changes could have a huge impact on their business, and, in turn, the countless small businesses that rely on their ads to drive traffic and sales to their sites.
It’s frustrating that we don’t know more about the impact this is going to have on advertiser performance, but we’ll keep this post updated as we learn more about the impact this will have on small businesses.
For now, every business that uses Facebook, or is planning on using Facebook in the future, needs to update their accounts to make sure they’re ready for the changes that are due to be rolled out any day now.