You may have seen a wave of headlines dominating the press in recent months around Apple users and their quest for user privacy. How your data is collected and used from your online behaviour has become a core topic for digital advertising, with many wondering how their marketing activities may need to evolve.

The latest iOS 14 update is no different, as it gives app users more control over their data by allowing them to decide how advertisers can track them, which has strong implications for digital advertising, including Facebook ads.

iOS 14 update: The short answer

As we are slowly moving to cookieless browsing, the ways in which we currently use tracking are crumbling. We need to get ready and switch to server-side tracking instead. 

In the world of Facebook ads, you can use Facebook Conversions API. It is one of the latest Facebook Business tools that helps you measure your ad campaigns. 

This goes beyond what the Facebook Pixel does at the moment in terms of tracking website visitor activity and events. It can also track offline conversions (such as in store sales or CRM lead conversions). 

In doing so, it helps improve accuracy of information sent for targeting, getting additional insights of people who interact with your business, and therefore tracking events more accurately.

Change #1: Ad targeting

Following the update, your ad system will no longer be learning as it should, meaning any conversion events set up and remarketing lists will be affected. 

As a result, you will also find that your audience sizes will probably decrease, as any audiences will likely not include many people who updated to iOS 14.

Change #2: Reporting 

Data collection and reporting, specifically on web conversion events, will also be affected. 

Facebook has announced that the recent changes to attribution settings may lead to a decrease in the number of reported conversions. Some attribution windows will also be unavailable, and you may find there are some delays in reporting.

From now on, numerous attribution metrics are no longer available, such as 28-day click-through, 28-day view-through, and 7-day view-through attribution windows.

It’s worth noting that the Facebook Attribution tool will be retired in August 2021. In its place, Facebook are now working on a new tool that will no longer support cross-publisher attribution.

Change #3: New limits on web events

In light of the changes iOS 14 brings, Facebook has now changed the ways  how it processes website events. Now, Facebook will start processing website events from iOS users and devices using Aggregated Event Management.

Once Facebook releases solutions to help address Apple's iOS 14 changes, you will only be able to optimise ad delivery on up to 8 conversion events for each domain.

Change #4: Domain verification

A domain will need to be selected for each ad in order to measure conversions, and each ad will have to include the domain where you want conversions to happen.

To make sure you are ready for this, be sure to verify your domains if you haven’t already done so. 

NOTE: There are more reasons why you need to verify your domain in Business Manager, but most importantly this will allow you to configure web and conversion events in Aggregated Event Measurement.

Change #5: Cookieless world & Conversions API 

Facebook has launched a new Conversions API to comply with the new regulations and laws around data protection. In short, it’s a tool that Facebook now uses to track information with cookieless browsers. Conversions API is linked to Facebook pixel events and helps improve the performance of your ad campaigns and gain additional information about people who interact with your website. 

In this case, gone is cookie-based tracking in favour of server-based tracking, allowing you to track events directly from your server to that of Facebook’s. It also measures customer actions in more ways than the Facebook pixel does. However, it doesn’t show a user’s whole journey (unlike the Pixel) but it does show the end result.

It is worth implementing the Conversions API on your website if suitable. Not all websites will need to have it, as not every business will need to track conversions. However, small businesses and all eCommerce sites should definitely look at utilising this.

Where to go for more information

This issue around privacy is not unique to Facebook advertisers, and will inevitably impact Google, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube and any other social media platforms who track impact and report on results of their ads. 

Facebook for Business has put together a handy checklist to help you prepare for the changes to Facebook ads, which you can find here. Alternatively, you can visit some of the Further Reading links below for more information.

Don’t forget though that this update is not all doom and gloom, and marketers needn’t worry as there are still ways to measure the success of your ads. You can also get in touch with us if you have any questions.