November 22, 2021 - Brittany Garlin

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Black Friday Marketing: How the Apple iOS 14 Release May Affect Your Ads and Reporting

Black Friday marketing campaigns are a go! The retail holiday during Cyber Week is interchangeable with deals. This year, much like last year during the pandemic, the traditional holiday shopping experience is going digital. In fact, in 2020, desktop orders were at 49%, while smartphones accounted for 43% during a record-setting year.

Black Friday Marketing | US Facebook Ad Revenue | eMarketer | Agency Vista

In June, at WWDC 2020, Apple announced that in iOS 14, which came out in September, the company would change the policy of collecting and using personal data in mobile applications. This came as a surprise to the mobile industry, and many experts announced the end of mobile marketing. These updates are of great concern to business owners and marketers since they include a partial ban on data tracking, therefore, affect the effectiveness of advertising on Facebook.

How does iOS 14 affect Facebook marketers and limit your Black Friday marketing efforts? How exactly will your Facebook ads be affected? What can marketers do about the critical issues for their Black Friday marketing? Let’s dive into the topic and get answers to these questions.

Apple’s iOS 14 Update and What It Means for Black Friday Marketing

Earlier this year, Apple announced an iOS 14 update that will affect our processes for receiving and processing conversion events recorded by tools such as the Facebook pixel. This change will affect companies that advertise mobile apps and optimize, target, and create reports on web conversion events using Facebook business tools.

As per Apple’s position, their users deserve an opportunity to choose whether or not their data is collected. With that being said, Apple requires all App Store apps that perform “tracking” to show iOS 14 users a dialog box requesting permission to track through the AppTrackingTransparency. The iOS 14 update will apply to every app available in the App Store, including those owned by Facebook – Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp. It will also affect apps that use Facebook audiences.

iOS 14.5 Update | Agency Vista

If owners of iOS 14 devices refuse to be tracked, the possibilities of personalized advertising and reporting on its effectiveness may be limited. What does it mean?

  • If Facebook is unable to track user behavior, the targeting function will no longer work at full. Advertising costs will become less effective, and the campaigns themselves will become more expensive.
  • The ads themselves are less personalized and therefore less effective. This leads to a decrease in the number of potential customers generated by advertising.
  • The update affects reporting. Since the data does not include users who have opted out of tracking, the reports are inaccurate.
  • The update also affects the work of the Facebook Audience Network, a tool that allows you to monetize sites by placing ads and marketers to earn money from this advertising. Since iOS users who have opted out of data tracking cannot be tracked, business owners may refuse to pay for advertising on these sites. It is just not profitable. They will lose valuable advertising space and ad revenue.

How Is Facebook Responding?

It is clear that Facebook disagrees with Apple’s approach and solution, yet they have no choice but to show Apple’s prompt. Some might even say they were panicking when the news about the iOS 14 update appeared. Facebook understands that this harms the businesses and users that rely on their services. 

In July 2021, over 98% of active user accounts worldwide accessed the social network via any mobile phone. No doubt, a large percentage is using an iOS device with the iOS 14 update, and a majority of iOS users opt-out of Facebook’s tracking.

Facebook has publicly come out with a direct response, claiming that the average small business advertiser stands to see a cut of over 60% in their sales for every dollar they spend. In his post Speaking Up for Small Businesses, Dan Levy, the VP of Ads and Business Products at Facebook, expressed his arguments against the iOS update. He explained how the changes would hurt small businesses and promised to take all measures to eliminate the restrictions.

How Does iOS 14 Affect Your Facebook Ads?

Facebook uses the personal data/information of its users to help small business owners display targeted ads. Without up-to-date and accurate data, business owners are less likely to find potential customers. On gadgets with iOS 14, ads can be shown from an existing account, but due to the limitations of the SKAdNetwork API, you will need to create new campaigns for installing the application.

If you need to set up ads optimized for conversion events in the company’s app, you need to consider additional restrictions:

  • The application can only be linked to one account in the Facebook Business Manager. However, you can display ads for different applications from the same account.
  • For one application, you can run no more than nine advertising campaigns for iOS 14, each of which will have a limit of up to 5 ad groups with the same type of optimization.
  • When creating campaigns for iOS 14, only auctions can be selected as the purchasing type. The “Coverage and Frequency” type will become unavailable.
  • After publishing a campaign, you will no longer be able to change the position of the campaign switch for iOS 14. You will need to disable or delete your campaign.

Note that everything remains the same for the Android system and versions below iOS 14. 

How Does iOS 14 Affect Reporting?

According to Apple’s new rules, Facebook will limit the performance measurement of the campaigns for iOS 14 aimed at installing applications. In such campaigns, the number of mobile app installs and other conversion events will be considered based on Apple’s SKAdNetwork API data.

Similar restrictions also apply to measuring web conversion events on iOS 14 devices whose owners have refused to be tracked. In addition, the following restrictions are expected to apply to AdsManager, advertising reports, and the Ads Insights API:

  • Report delay. Reports will not be available in real-time, and data may arrive with a delay of up to 3 days.
  • Approximate results. For campaigns aimed at installing apps for iOS 14, the SKAdNetwork API will send Facebook results aggregated at the campaign level. If a campaign consists of several ads and their groups, statistical modeling can be used to calculate the results at the ad and group levels.
  • No breakdowns. Breakdowns by actions and impressions will not be supported for web and in-app conversions, including by age, gender, region, and placement locations.
  • Changes in the settings of the account attribution window will occur. The attribution window for all new and existing ad campaigns is set at the ad group level. You can see the new attribution setting when creating a campaign. This setting makes it easier to analyze the effectiveness of advertising and ensures that the conversions received correspond to those used to optimize the campaign. In addition, an attribution window of 7 days after a click or one day after viewing will be used by default for all new and active advertising campaigns. For campaigns aimed at installing apps for iOS 14, the attribution window provided by Apple’s SKAdNetwork API will be used.

After iOS 14 was implemented at the end of April, the pendulum swung in the opposite direction, and Facebook began drastically under-reporting the number of leads.

Though the ratio variance is inconsistent, it seems to be growing.

Facebook Under-Reporting | Agency Vista | Search Engine Journal

6 Ways to Survive Apple’s iOS 14

Even with all the changes limiting ad campaign reach, there are actions you can take now to help your digital ad campaigns survive the iOS update and boost your Black Friday marketing. 

1. Target Android and iOS Users

The iOS 14 update only affects Apple users. Consumers using Android devices are not affected, and Facebook can still track their data.

Of course, ideally, you need to track all users; otherwise, the data will be incomplete. But it is better to work only with Android users or segment campaigns by device.

Facebook Ad Targeting | Agency Vista

When creating a campaign focused on conversion events, go to the detailed targeting settings and select users who visit Facebook from Android devices.

2. Prioritize Pixel Events

It means you need to decide which eight Facebook pixel events are essential for your business. As mentioned above, Facebook will only receive data from eight-pixel events per domain.

Facebook Pixel Events | Agency Vista

Initially, Facebook will determine which eight events are your priority. You can change the selected parameters or their order in the Events Manager. If you have ad groups for events not included in the top eight, these ad groups will be suspended.

3. Verify Your Domain and Enable The Conversions API

Domain verification ensures the absence of both current and future interruptions when setting up conversion events. Facebook is doing its best to provide solutions in connection with the Apple update. One of them is the Conversions API. The Conversions API will help you deliver data from the site or the application. It does not use cookies, so there are no restrictions on data collection.

Facebook Verify Domain | Agency Vista

Although it will not be a complete replacement (the API cannot see event codes such as a purchase or add to cart), it has other possibilities for optimization.

4. Enable Value Optimization (VO)

Facebook Value Optimization | Agency Vista

VO allows advertisers to place bets on the most valuable users or users who are most likely to take the desired action on the site. A value-optimized campaign can get a higher return on advertising expenses (ROA) than an ad optimized for conversion. This allows you to target users based on the “value” that provides the highest ROA.

5. Enable The Facebook SDK

Facebook SDK | Agency Vista

Facebook offers to update the SDK for iOS to version 8.1 or 9. This way, you will continue showing personalized ads to iOS app users. You will still be able to measure the number of app installs, optimize advertising by cost and app events.

6. Integrate Independent Tracking and Retargeting Methods

Some of your Facebook campaigns will lose their effectiveness with the iOS 14 update implemented. Leverage alternative retargeting data sources (first-party data, engagement-based retargeting, video-based retargeting).

Facebook Retargeting Audiences | Agency Vista | Black Friday Marketing

Consider other strategies for tracking the effectiveness of ads. For example, consider different types of bets, different audience choices, and events. Another option is to stop using Facebook to track conversions on the site. Instead, use the tracking system of the platform on which the site is based. This way, you can see where visitors come from and their actions on the pages. You can also use campaigns outside of the conversion goal, for example, to track the traffic that your ads generate to the site.

Conclusion 

Facebook is a mobile-centric advertising platform, and many marketers and business owners are still concerned about the changes associated with the iOS 14 update. Apple’s iOS 14 update has undoubtedly brought significant changes to all Facebook advertisers. Sometimes it seems that it will no longer be possible to generate potential customers and measure conversions from Facebook ads effectively. Still, today marketers know much more about what to expect. So make sure to follow the key steps to survive Apple iOS 14 changes and maximize your Black Friday marketing efforts. 

Be optimistic and rely on Agency Vista’s Top Facebook Ads Marketing Agencies to move forward with your effective Facebook marketing!

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