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Get Ahead of Challenges Posed by the iOS 14 Update

March 22, 2021

Paid Marketing
Tye DeGrange

With Apple’s recent iOS14 update, iPhone and iPad users will now have to opt in to allow Facebook, Google and other apps to collect data that tracks their internet activities. If advertisers on those and other platforms don’t take steps to prepare for the changes, they could see significant negative impact to conversion-oriented campaigns.

Round Barn Labs has been in close communication with Facebook to get clarity on what the update will mean for advertisers on that platform, and we have also identified steps brands can take to avoid unnecessary disruption to their advertising efforts. Here’s what we know.

What Can I Expect from the iOS 14 Update?

1. Opt-in applies to all iOS apps.

That includes apps within the Facebook family, including Instagram, Messenger and Whatsapp, as well as apps that place ads through Audience Network. It also affects apps within the Google family, like YouTube and Paid Search, as well as other popular apps like Pinterest, TikTok, Snapchat, Twitter and LinkedIn.

2. Changes affect iOS device users who have updated their OS.

Data tracking will still work as before on Android devices and desktop devices (Mac, Microsoft & others), and for Apple iPhone and iPad users who have not yet made the OS update.

3. Less accurate, less robust reporting of pixel actions.

With some iOS 14 users opting out, advertisers will see less reporting of conversion actions such as leads, additions to cart, purchases and custom conversions. These numbers will likely trend downward in the short term, so you’ll need to temper expectations and adjust your approach accordingly.

4. A shorter attribution window.

On Facebook, you’ll no longer have the option to attribute conversion events back to an ad over longer time periods. This may mean a narrower picture of customer behavior in the coming weeks and months.

5. A setback for optimization.

With less data to draw from, and a shorter attribution window to provide context, there’s no doubt that optimization will suffer in the near term. And it bears mentioning that, when creating an ad set, you’ll now only be able to choose no more than eight Facebook conversion events per domain for optimization.

6. New challenges in audience creation.

The loss of data from some iOS devices will mean less accurate and potentially less effective audience creation. Understanding this challenge is the first step toward finding new ways to reach your target audience.

What Can I Do to Keep Ads Data-Strong?

There’s no sugar-coating the effect that these changes will have in the near term. But Round Barn Labs is here to help you make sure you can adjust your approach and continue to reach users who are already responding to your digital ad efforts. Start with these four steps to help limit the impact of the iOS update and prepare to keep growing your audience in the months ahead.

1. Verify your domain in Facebook Business Manager.

Domain verification allows you to associate a Facebook account with your website domain.

2. Invest time and effort in prioritization.

With a smaller data set and limited options for conversion-event reporting, your approach to prioritization will be more important than ever. Prepare to operate and define the priority of a maximum of 8 conversion events per domain.

3. Anticipate the impact of shorter attribution windows.

The removal of the option to tie actions to ads over a longer time period means a narrower view of an ad’s impact on customer behavior. For an idea of how the shorter attribution window has affected reporting, over the last 30 days, RBL clients have seen a decrease in attributable conversions ranging from 5% to 25%.

4. Reevaluate campaign optimization strategies.

With the challenges these changes pose to optimization, it may make sense to adjust your approach. Consider testing alternative audience options or evaluating different bidding strategies to make sure you’re still getting the most from your ad spend. Now is a good time to also test advertising on new channels for your brand to decrease reliance on Facebook & Google as your only digital ad channels.

As consumers gradually move to iOS 14, advertisers can expect to see some decrease in performance, largely due to setbacks in optimization and targeting. But, as always, the growth experts at Round Barn Labs are here to help you adjust your approach and find the best available ways to reach your audience. To find out more, contact us today.

Updates directly from Facebook:

Additional reading and resources:

Adjust: Attribution compatible with iOS14

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