iOS 14 Update and Facebook Ads: How to Adjust Your Strategy

Michael Calia - 04/28/2021

The dreaded word being uttered by marketers everywhere – iOS 14. The upcoming Apple update will impact your Facebook advertising strategy, but there are adjustments you can make to be prepared for these changes.

Apple’s iOS 14 updates include features that could significantly alter how effective social media advertising will be at reaching your organization’s target audience. The main change, in accordance with Apple’s AppTrackingTransparency Framework, centers around requiring apps listed on the app store to get permission from users via an opt-in prompt to track certain personal data. As a result, users opting out will mean that certain targeting, personalization, and reporting features for social media advertising strategies will be limited. According to Facebook, virtually anyone who uses things like website conversion events to track and optimize ads will be affected.

In this blog, we’ll examine why the latest software update will affect social and digital advertising, and what marketers can do to prepare and make the most out of their Facebook and Instagram advertising strategies.

Reduced Tracking Limits Measurement and Targeting

A huge component of a successful social media advertising campaign involves tracking your audience’s activity on and off the platform. Monitoring impressions, engagement, and website clicks on the ads themselves is valuable for determining a strategy’s effectiveness, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg. If your campaign involves driving traffic to a specific lead-generating landing page or spurring purchases on your company’s shop, you’ll also want to determine if the ad was successful in generating conversions.

facebook app iconIf certain users’ activity can no longer be tracked due to the iOS 14 update, there will be reduced options for monitoring the effectiveness of your advertising strategy. With limited data available, marketers won’t be able to make as informed recommendations and optimizations, which could weaken overall campaign performance.

In addition to its impact on measurement, the iOS 14 update will change how marketers can target using pixels. Currently, placing a Facebook pixel on the landing page can enable you to retarget users who have visited the page or create lookalike audiences that include users whose activity is similar those webpage visitors’. This strategy helps your ads reach people who are more likely to be interested in your brand or the  product or service you’re providing. However, the iOS changes will significantly limit the effectiveness of this tactic.

Many users who have demonstrated an interest in a product may not be able to receive more ads based on their activity. Whereas pixel-based targeting was also useful for personalization efforts, future ads may not have this luxury, which would also make them less effective. Lookalike audiences will grow less accurate with the reduced pool of users available to base these audiences on.

Because of these new limitations, it’s crucial for brands and marketers to understand how they can adapt their strategies and get the most out of their social media marketing tactics. Here are four things you need to do now and be aware of to prepare for the iOS 14 changes:

1.Verify Domains

With the rollout of the new update, Facebook is making businesses verify their domains to prevent any sort of issues involving misuse or abuse of ad accounts. This is a simple process that involves placing a specific code on your webpage. Doing so will also allow the data received by pixels to be more accurate.

Facebook’s Conversions API is one of the workarounds business can use for tracking. While it can track signals from another website or app, it doesn’t use cookies, so it’s not as restricted by iOS 14. However, certain actions, such as leads, purchases, and adds to cart, aren’t trackable via Conversions API, so it may not fit every business’ needs. But if its features can help your specific needs, enable it to maintain some level of effectiveness in your Facebook ads.

2. Check Your Audiences in Current Ad Sets

If you have ads currently running to audiences that involve targeting that will be restricted, they will most likely be paused automatically. If this is the case, you’ll have to make some changes to your audience to maximize effectiveness in that specific ad set.

Start by considering other ways you can broaden the audience parameters to ensure you’re still reaching as relevant of users as possible. While certain activity won’t be trackable for users who opt out, you can still build audiences based on other qualifications, such as email addresses. If you have contact lists that do relate to these specific audiences, build lookalikes based on them to maximize your reach among qualified users. Other options include targeting users who have interacted with posts and ads on Facebook and Instagram. This targeting won’t be limited by iOS 14, so it can still be valuable for reaching users who have expressed interest in your content.

However, if your brand or client consistently promotes various products and services that don’t always overlap, this targeting may include users who don’t meet your ideal criteria. Consider a few different alternative options and test them out to decide on what targeting parameters help you best reach the right audience.

3. Identify the 8 Most Important Pixel Events

Prior to the update, marketers were able to add as many Facebook pixels they wanted to a website, with the best practice typically being to place a pixel on every page as to properly track activity wherever the users may go. However, the iOS 14 update means that advertisers will be restricted to no more than eight pixel events on a single domain, limiting the amount tracking data available.

In response to this change, it’s best to conduct a thorough analysis on what specific pixel events and conversions need to remain in your strategy. Base your decisions on what information is most valuable to your business, as well as what has proven to be more successful for analysis or retargeting.

This is also a useful process for identifying the most prioritized action on your website. For many brands, users may trigger multiple pixel events in one trip to a website. By prioritizing these conversions, these users will be grouped based on the most important actions they take.

4. Split Android and iOS Users

Consider if your ads should be segmented based on what mobile devices your audience uses. When creating ad campaigns, Facebook allows you to choose whether your audience includes iOS device users, Android device users, or both. Whereas these tracking changes will affect the effectiveness of the iOS users in your audience, Android users will not be affected.

Analyze previous campaigns to determine if your audiences heavily skew toward either operating system. If a significant majority are Android users, targeting Android only would help maximize effectiveness of your ads. However, if your audience heavily comprises iPhone users, your ad strategy could be taking a hit. While targeting Android only will result in more accurate data, it could be harmful if you aren’t reaching a significant portion of your target audience. If this is the case, splitting the targeting and allocating budget accordingly is a useful workaround. This way, you’d still be reaching some members of your key audience, but you can limit the budget spent on those users as to not spend too much money on users who won’t also bring valuable data to your analysis and retargeting efforts.

social media engagementWhile the capabilities of digital and social advertising have expanded incredibly over the past few years, so too has the demand for privacy and transparency. This leads to new challenges that businesses need to overcome to advertise effectively. Though Facebook advertising has been a proven medium for successfully reaching proper target audiences, the fluid nature of social media marketing means that strategies will have to adapt to succeed. Given Apple’s newest updates to iOS, tracking users’ activity and building audiences based on it becomes even more difficult. But that’s no reason to abandon the platform altogether. By understanding these changes – and future ones – marketers can maintain effectiveness and drive more conversions via quality Facebook and Instagram ads.

Click here to learn more about how 3E Public Relations can help your business develop an effective social media marketing strategy.

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