Last year U.S. advertisers spent an estimated $33 billion on Facebook Ads. Facebook is a leading digital marketing channel for small and large businesses looking to grow traffic and engage customers. Apple’s iOS 14 update introduced unfavorable advertising challenges when it began limiting the type and amount of tracking data businesses could collect.
Previously, advertisers could track user experience and behavior patterns to determine trends without many obstacles. With the launch of iOS 14.5 in April 2021, Apple decided to install an App Tracking Transparency feature and turn the user behavior tracking off by default. Apple implemented these new features amid the surge of privacy concerns surrounding companies (like Facebook) collecting sensitive data from unknowing users.
iOS 14 upgrades and beyond now prompt users to opt-in or opt-out on the specific user behavior data that is shared with app companies and websites. Less than 25% of worldwide iOS users still allow tracking, and that number continues to shrink when it comes to U.S. users.
This new challenge of incomplete/missing user data directly affects Facebook Ads targeting, reporting, and optimization. While advertisers adjust to the new normal of Facebook advertising, we have come up with workarounds for even the most difficult Facebook and iOS 14 issues. Still struggling with rising CPMs? Connect with a performance marketing expert to jumpstart your Facebook Ads strategy.
Facebook Ads iOS 14 Website Checklist: Security & Compliance
To meet new standards of brand trust, companies must maintain the three simple site requirements below:
- Verify website domain through Facebook
To ensure continued reporting on important conversion data, companies MUST verify domains through Facebook Ads. This is one of the easiest procedures to complete amidst Facebook’s switch from Pixels to the Aggregated Event Measurement. Verifying your website domain will improve Pixel’s performance in the meantime.
- Switch to “HTTPS” ASAP
If your website does not have the “s in “HTTPS”, your Google ads are doomed. If you haven’t already, make the switch to ensure your site is securely encrypted and to avoid penalties in Google’s AdWords ranking.
- Establish PCI compliance
Demonstrating PCI compliance is one of the easiest requirements for companies to establish customer trust and meet web security standards. This requirement mostly affects E-com companies with custom-built shopping carts. If your company uses Shopify or a similar e-commerce platform, these security features are likely already built-in.
Companies should supplement these short-term solutions with long-term strategies to generate trust. Some powerful ways to build brand trust are 1) promoting customer or influencer reviews and 2) developing effective imagery and messaging.
Adapting To Facebook Ads iOS 14 Limited Conversion Events
The switch to Facebook’s Aggregated Event Measurement now limits conversion KPIs to 8 conversion points. Advertisers shouldn’t panic. Unlimited tracking was always more of a luxury than a necessity. In fact, the majority of marketing decisions tend to happen between 2 and 4 KPIs.
That said, two distinct company types will be affected by this more than others: 1) App/software companies who are tracking many data points, and 2) smaller advertisers who don’t have the multitude of data points consistent with large budgets. For these companies, reprioritizing conversion KPI’s will be the easiest way to adapt to this change.
5 Ways To Navigate Facebook Ads iOS 14 7-Day Attribution Window
Another Facebook Ads iOS 14 hurdle is the switch from a 28-day attribution window to a 7-day attribution window. This simply means the time to measure a conversion is shorter. The reported numbers will also be lower, but this should not directly impact the number of real conversions. That said, companies offering products or services with higher prices will be affected the most by this lower attribution window setting.
While the 7-day attribution window will still yield results, the numbers will be more conservative and underreported. This means it will be more difficult to measure and demonstrate campaign efficiency. The following graphic provides five different solutions that work together to combat this new measurement restraint:
- Build Data Warehouses To Preserve Historical Metrics
The changing digital environment means not only changes in the way we measure metrics, but also changes to the actual metrics. Historical data can help fill in the gaps of current data to make better-informed decisions for the future. For example, marketers can map historical KPI data and insert future actions to retrieve KPIs that are no longer tracking in Facebook. Data warehouses will be essential to track patterns, benchmarks, and developments of past metrics that are no longer showcased in Facebook’s reporting system.
- Rely More On Google Analytics, Less On Facebook
While Facebook’s reporting is limited to Facebook, Google Analytics offers marketers robust website information that supports many vital marketing decisions. Google Analytics is soon transitioning to GA4, a new version of Google Analytics that will include machine learning models and additional tools to handle iOS issues.
Because GA4 is set to replace the previous version of Google Analytics (Universal Analytics), It will be imperative for businesses to have data warehouses set up to manage the transition from Universal Analytics to GA4, and to store all Universal Analytics data.
- Invest In A Platform That Integrates All Digital Channels
Investing in API technology will allow marketers to better visualize the funnel from beginning to end in a single data source. Software that places Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and other digital channels in a single source from A-Z will be incredibly valuable for decision making.
- Perform Weighted Source Traffic Modeling
One of the biggest Facebook Ads iOS 14 issues has many marketers questioning, what percentage of traffic is truly direct and what percentage of traffic is coming from Facebook?
Grading traffic by source using “worst and best-case scenarios” and estimating direct traffic by balancing out ROI will help determine missing traffic source data.
- Incorporate Statistics Into Ad Testing
Statistical significance will become even more instrumental in marketing decisions as marketers must rely on smaller populations to make deductions. iOS users represent 40% of Facebook’s total U.S. users with most of these users opting out of tracking. That said, marketers can still tap into the large market of Android users and the small sample of iOS users with tracking turned on. A/B testing and multivariate testing will continue to be crucial to determine ad performance, and calculating statistical significance will be the key to educated decision making amidst smaller samples.
The Death of Scaling Facebook Ads & How To Counter Shrinking Facebook Audiences
The iOS 14 requirements have greatly affected audience targeting in Facebook. Audiences are getting smaller due to lower audience metrics available, and conversion data might not match actual lead data due to incomplete/missing data points. Further, marketers should assume the actual audience size is 40-60% less than the projected audience Facebook reports.
While this should not equate to fewer impressions, in terms of “meaningful impressions” the audience size has shrunk due to users opting out of tracking, and continues to do so quickly. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix to this issue. Further, advertisers should expect the market to become more regulated across different social channels, thus lowering Facebook’s competitive edge to be on a similar playing field with Twitter, TikTok, Pinterest, etc.
This change in audience targeting is detrimental to advertisers solely relying on Facebook Ads to amplify their business. Here are three ways to counter Facebook’s shrinking audience:
- Keep CPMs down by diversifying your strategy. Marketers should no longer scale Facebook incrementally, but scale ad spend horizontally across all channels incrementally. Diversify campaign types and treat your digital marketing strategy like an Investment Portfolio. Therefore, success will depend on diversity, adaptability, and constant assessment of the digital channels. If scaling your current strategy is ineffective, employ a variety of campaign objectives and run multiple types of campaigns.
- Invest Realistically. Keep in mind that the only way to do effective spend across different channels is to meet the minimum investment standard needed for each channel algorithm to perform sufficiently for evaluation. To make informed marketing decisions on a single platform, you must test variations of ads on that platform in a statistically significant manner. The reality is you must meet the minimum ad spend per channel and receive the minimum threshold of impressions before basing decisions on an ad’s performance.
- Reach new audiences through whitelisting. As a popular influencer marketing strategy, marketers can tap into similar target audiences by exploring influencer whitelisting. Whitelisting helps brands reach new audiences by running promotional content through the influencer’s account. Want to learn more on influencer whitelisting or Facebook Ads fixes? Talk to one of our performance marketing experts.