With the launch of iOS 14.5, Apple is giving its customers more control over how their data is collected and tracked by app developers. Called App Tracking Transparency, this new feature is also retargeting campaigns run by marketers. Now that this new update is available, let’s have a look at what it is and how it will impact digital marketing campaigns.
What is Apple iOS App Tracking Transparency?
App Tracking Transparency (or ATT) is a new feature available on all iOS, iPadOS, and tvOS 14.5 devices. This new update need applications to ask user’s permission if they would like to track their activity across various companies’ websites and applications.
The Apple devices come with a unique number known as “advertising identifier” that’s useful in identifying your device for ad targeting and tracking. When identifier number is associated with other information, app developers can build very detailed records of the way you use your iPhone or other devices, including different apps on the internet.
But on installing the new iOS 14.5, all apps on Apple devices again need permission for tracking your activities on the web. It only applies to app tracking on apps that are not owned by the company. For instance, Facebook can track your activity on Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp without asking. But if it has to identify how you interact with different companies’ apps or other websites on the internet, it needs to ask your permission for tracking.
Hence, it’s considered a safe update, as iPhone users are often unaware of to what extent their activities are tracked by app developers.
How Apple users can enable (and block apps like Facebook from tracking) App tracking?
Well, you don’t have to do anything extra to start using ATT. It will automatically as for tracking permission when you start any third-party app on iOS. A popup notification will appear on your screen, asking permission to use your camera, location, microphone, and more features that may potentially violate the user’s privacy. As per your choice, you can simply select “Ask App not to track” or “Allow.”
How to turn off tracking for each app? Well, if you don’t want to be asked for tracking permission for every app you download, you can simply turn it off from the Tracking settings. Here are a few steps to follow:
- Open the Settings app, and tap on Privacy.
- Select Tracking at the top of the screen.
- Apps that have asked for permission of tracking are listed here. You can make the desired changes as per your preference.
Why Apple released iOS 14.5 App Tracking Transparency update?
The reason why Apple came up with the App Tracking Transparency framework is to offer privacy protection to users. Since privacy is a fundamental right of every human, that’s why iOS 14.5 is designed to provide users more control over the data they share and more transparency on seeing how it’s used by app developers.
How does Apple App Tracking Transparency Update Affect Audience Targeting?
Majorly, Facebook and Instagram ads are considered powerful for targeting as per user’s interest and behavior. For instance, people who love cats will be shown more cats-related content and it gets them into the “cat owner” targeting category.
But when users don’t allow tracking, it becomes complicated for apps to categorized those users into a specific behavior group. Therefore, the users’ pool to target ads becomes smaller and it further results in fewer users seeing a specific ad.
Due to this update, custom audiences, like remarketing, have already noticed sharp declines in the audience groups. For instance, usually, an eCommerce remarketing group targets users that consider “add to cart” for 14 days but then abandoned. Such targeted ad usually gets one of the major highest Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) ad sets. Plus, thousands are users are added with this.
However, with the new iOS 14.5 update there, there’s was a significant drop in the ROAS. So, a new solution to resolve issues associated with remarketing involves the expansion of the client’s remarketing audience with a window from 14 days to 30 days. It will help marketers to expand their targeting pool before they start to advertise again. With this new update, there is an increasing need for building more performance baselines.
How it impacts Facebook retargeting campaigns?
Here’s how iOS 14.5 impacts Facebook retargeting campaigns:
- Conversions by users who don’t opt for tracking on the new update via Facebook Ad won’t be tracked.
- Delayed Reporting: With the new update, there is a problem with real-time reporting and data is getting delayed for up to 3 days or more.
There is also a limitation of 8 Conversion Events for Pixel. It means advertising campaigns have to re-strategize web conversion events. Maybe, categorizing conversions under certain event categories can help.
- Facebook’s app and web conversions won’t provide reporting anymore on delivery reporting, as well as action breakdowns of different iOS 14 users. It includes gender, age, region, and ad placement.
What changes Facebook made after the iOS App tracking update?
Given below are some noteworthy changes made by Facebook after the iOS app tracking update:
- Facebook Pixel Tracking: The pixel actions, such as Click to Download, Form Submission, Purchase Completion, and Add to Cart will have lesser reported numbers as more customers are opting out to be tracked.
- Facebook Ad Optimization: Because of less pixel tracking activity of users, there will be lesser data for working on for ad optimization.
- Retargeting & Audience Segments: The users who have opted out from being tracked won’t be included in retargeting and audience segments.
How to calibrate your Facebook targeting campaigns after the iOS 14 update?
For calibrating your Facebook targeting campaigns after iOS 14.5 update, you need to optimize to drive more traffic with remarketing lists, conversion events, etc. Some simple workaround for this would be:
- Exclude iOS devices from ad campaigns with the aim of conversions:
It is not a permanent solution for running paid ads on Facebook. But doing so can provide you better insight into things you can expect when an update is implemented.
- Create campaigns without major conversion objective
It would mean running website campaigns or others with the help of the website’s internal tracking for determining whether a conversion or sale occurred as an ad result. Even lead ad campaigns can be used. It won’t negate the impact on audience retargeting but will certainly aid marketers’ ability to drive results from campaigns.
- Break down conversion flow or form an extra layer for landing pages
It means that users provided you information about their activities in the previous conversion process. First name, email address, phone number, etc. can be retroactively updated into Facebook for generating retargeted custom audiences.
So, it may help you to rely on people who are willing to offer you information rather than pixel fires of simple page views.
What App Tracking update means for digital marketers?
According to certain surveys, over 82% of people are concerned about data collection and business monitoring from their mobile devices. It means that people care about their privacy and wanted more control over how their data is being collected. Due to this, iOS 14.5 devices will have fewer Facebook Ads functions and tracking for web conversion events and apps.
So, it directly impacts digital marketers and their ad campaigns. As a solution, Facebook has created Aggregated Event Measurement for measuring campaign performance while being “consistent with consumers’ decisions on data privacy.
I also recommend that you read Manya Surve post, for Tech24Inc about: sorry, no manipulations with clipboard allowed
They will use Aggregated Event Measurement for processing conversion events on Facebook Pixel on iOS devices. So, these events can further track people’s actions on your website. The aim here is to support marketers who are running campaigns while preserving the privacy of audiences.
However, this change is just applicable for people using iOS devices. So, businesses still can use the complete user data of other eligible devices, such as desktop and Android.
Recent changes to data privacy and collection
Until 2018, websites and others dealing with data privacy as per the concept of ‘implied consent’ considered users to acknowledge that they already understood their data was being collected and tracked.
But now the recent 14.5 iOS updated has changed that and given customers more control over apps collecting their data and privacy. With the recent changes to data privacy and collection by 14.5 iOS update, the cookies are used for recording website users’ data, according to:
- Link clicks
- Shopping cart
- Time spent on a website
- First-party Cookies are being created by the website developer or creator on that site.
Now each third-party app on iOS devices needs to ask users for permission before collecting their data.
Actions marketers need to take to minimize the impact of the iOS 14 update
While there is nothing 100-percent guaranteed for clean tracking, you can follow these three actions to minimize the impact of iOS update:
- Turn On the Advanced Matching
Advanced matching helps you to pass your additional data to Facebook about the details of your users, such as their email address, first name, last name, etc. What it will do is let pixel search more information from the website while recognizing more sources along with actions or events that took place.
After that, Facebook will hash the collected information in the available visitor’s browser. It means that personal data will be converted into numbers for protecting the privacy of users. This way, you can even target those users who have allowed tracking.
- Verify Your Domain
With domain verification, you get the ability to easily prioritize and configure the 8 conversion events for the available domain. You can begin with the verification process on the Facebook Business Manager.
However, you cannot verify sub-domains. The domain verification is often done at the domain root level. If you are not sure about doing it, it is suggested to consult the webmaster.
- Prioritizing Events
Whenever you prioritize the events, you tell Facebook about the important ones for your business. This way, it will automatically classify the important events and least important ones to you.
Since every business is unique, you must know what events are important for your business to make an impact. It requires some thinking but will work eventually.
What iOS 14.5 Means for Google ads
As the ATT policies are in transition, campaigns running on iOS surfaces (both the web and apps) may notice some performance fluctuations. The businesses need to adjust to targets, budgets, or bids. And, they need to closely monitor campaign delivery and performance to stay meet the goals.
For maintaining the performance of app-based campaigns, businesses or brands need to consolidate to not more than 8 app install campaigns per app. For making up for the lost reach, you need to check web-based campaigns to have audience expansion enabled for customer match and remarketing campaigns. By enabling targeting expansion or similar audiences may also be beneficial.
The app-based events or campaigns must also upgrade to the new version of Google Analytics for migrating app campaigns and Firebase events to CPA rather thanRoas. And, the web-based campaigns must make sure to get the first-party tag on site-wide. Plus, they must see that arbitrary URL parameters are enabled.
Future of targeting ad campaigns?
We don’t see it as an end of advertising on Facebook and it will have less impact than estimated. Facebook is working on different workarounds to help marketers to brave the storm. Meanwhile, you can prepare yourself for upcoming changes to put your business in a position to succeed from different ad campaign perspectives.
You can follow the aforementioned calibration steps to get more out of the advertising channels, such as Google, LinkedIn, etc. Plus, build proper remarketing audiences through different platforms. In a few months, there will certainly be a solution to deal with the losses caused by this update.
iOS 14 Update FAQs
Here are some important frequently asked questions that most Facebook advertisers have in mind:
Q: When do we see Apple ATT prompt? What about a customer who already has apps downloaded? Will the ATT prompt be shown while updating already downloaded apps?
A: The ATT prompt will be shown to users when they will download apps for the first time. But this prompt will also be shown to existing app users when they first time opens the app after the 14.5 iOS update.
Q: Does Facebook have an estimate on what percentage or how many users will opt-out?
A: No, Facebook does not have an estimate about that. It is because it will happen in real-time on the devices of the users.
Q: Will Shops on Facebook and Instagram face any attribution issues since it is the end-to-end marketplace? Are there any plans for expediting the development of Shops?
A: Facebook is now branding shops as one organic solution. But it is not related to the paid attribution issues. However, the ROI thinks Shops may be a useful tool for businesses for buoying their eCommerce sales from Facebook. And, Facebook has not given any announcement that Shops will be expedited. However, the development of the tool and more associated features seem to be more focused on this platform.
Q: What if someone opts out of the Apple prompt? Will the Facebook prompt still appear?
A: Facebook’s prompt will appear before Apple’s prompt with its ability to provide additional context to users before the new 14.5 iOS prompt.
Q: When anyone opts out of the new Apple prompt, as well as the Facebook prompt, will their standard events still be tracked for users?
A: Not completely. Whenever anyone opts out of tracking Apple’s prompt, Facebook is likely to limit attribution in a certain way while supporting user’s preference for privacy. Meanwhile, it will still enable businesses to work on aggregated campaign measurement. One major attribution limit here is only enabling one event (that is set on highest priority) to be enabled for an ad click. The next one is the attribution window, as businesses will be only able to report events that are driven for just 24 hours of a click.
- Image by Philip George via betechwise.com
Did Apple Just KILL Facebook Ads & how iOS14 Will Affect E-Commerce ?
They are always going to show ads regardless. I wish they would ask the consumer it differently – do you want any adverts to show to you or do you want ads that are targeted to your interests?
Whenever there’s a change, there’s always a way around it. Cookie-less tracking options will become the new norm, and will most likely be a way to pass this info back to the FB pixel. We’ll see how things play out, but there’s always a solution for every problem