How Apple's iOS 14 release could affect your ads and reporting

A few months ago we analyzed the effects that the iOS 14 update would have on online advertising, especially on Facebook's Audience Network. 

With iOS 14, Apple has strengthened the privacy options and users can reject the tracking of their activity between apps directly via a notification. This is queried to the user every time an app wants to access their browsing data. 

As the new iOS 14 is now a reality for millions of Apple devices, Facebook has communicated to advertisers a series of steps to follow to mitigate its impact on attribution and campaign effectiveness.

What does the launch of iOS 14 mean for Facebook campaigns?

The expected consequence is that many iOS 14 users will opt to limit this activity tracking. Although Facebook is planning to develop an Ad Manager for Android and another for Apple, right now it only has a single ad management platform, so the changes will affect event tracking, audience targeting and campaign optimization and measurement across all types of devices.

In parallel to the announced change, Apple has proposed its Private Click Measurement (PCM) as a way to carry out ad measurement in the new scenario. However, Facebook will use a proprietary measurement system called Aggregated Event Measurement (AEM). Apple's system does not contemplate cases such as monitoring conversions that occur between apps and websites (if a user clicks on the Instagram ad and buys in e-commerce), nor would conversions be taken into account if the user navigates between different domains (for example, if they change language within the same website).

Facebook has indicated to the brands the steps they have to take on its platform.

How does the change affect advertisers using Facebook's advertising platform?

Facebook's advertising ecosystem will adapt to this new situation with changes in three distinct areas:

1. Event tracking in the Business Tool.

Advertisers will now only be able to set up eight events in total per domain. It does not matter how many pixels are associated with each website because the reference point is the domain. In addition, advertisers will have to put these events in order of priority because, if they do not do this last step, Facebook will automatically choose the most important ones. Each change in this configuration will involve a three-day wait until campaigns can be reoptimized. 

In this process, Facebook will most likely require the advertiser to verify their domain if they have not already done so. This action takes place in the Business Manager and brands operating without it will need to create it in order to complete the verification.

2. Audience segmentation and optimization of campaigns. 

To avoid a drop in campaign performance due to lack of data, Facebook has shortened the attribution window to seven days after click and one day after impression or display (as opposed to the 28 days it operated before). This change will mostly affect brands whose sales process is long and thoughtful, versus purchases that are more impulsive and can register in that limited time. 

The change at Apple also poses challenges at the level of retargeting and prospecting on Facebook, as audiences will be depleted in size and data and this will complicate the personalization of campaigns. Presumably, this will result in less effective ad campaigns.

3. Measuring Facebook Ad Campaigns

Advertisers will see fewer conversions attributed to advertising and, for those that do register, will not have detailed views with demographic information to help understand which types of users are generating the most business. Therefore, advertisers will have to take this into account to adjust their attribution models and try to limit the loss of insights at a global level.

The winding road to a future without Third Party Cookies

The industry is moving towards a future without third-party cookies, although the transition is not going smoothly. A few weeks ago, Google announced that they were testing Google Floc as an alternative to using Third Party Cookies on their advertising platform. But they have recently announced that this will not be implemented in Europe, as this system may not be compatible with the current GDPR regulation. 

With iOS 14, Apple has put one more hurdle for measurement based on Third Party Cookies. However, the cascade of consequences it has produced in advertising platforms as established as Facebook's is evidence of the difficulty of combining the effectiveness of advertising campaigns with data privacy. 

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