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App-ocalypse Now.

Article by
19th January 2021 in

What’s all the fuss?

There is a pending Apple iOS 14 privacy update (likely coming in the next month) which will prompt users to manually acknowledge whether they wish to allow Apps to track & share their private data.

Facebook stands to lose the most out of this change – and they’re not shy about venting their frustration.  It’s not hard to see why; Apple has provided practically no guidance or details, and industry experts anticipate abysmal opt-in rates to the prompt:

“We’re operating under the assumption that 95% or more of people will opt out – honestly, I’d be shocked if more than 5% of people opted in.”

So, Facebook has made the difficult decision to revise their entire advertising and tracking platform to adapt to the iOS 14 changes. Given that iOS holds around 53% of mobile OS share in Australia alone, it’s a sensible decision.

Who cares – more privacy is good, right?

I am a privacy advocate and an advertising tech. On one hand, this is a necessary wake-up call for tech companies who have been indiscriminately collecting user data with seemingly minimal consequences when data breaches occur.

However, Facebook raise some valid points, believing the changes will impact advertisers in adverse ways;

  • Force businesses to turn to subscriptions and in-app payments,
  • Make advertising less efficient and effective,
  • Cause a loss of personalization that could result in 60% fewer website sales from ads,
  • That loss of personalization could lead to a drop in revenue by 50% resulting from Facebook app install ads,
  • Make it more difficult for small businesses to reach their ideal audience, limiting growth.

I’d add to this the fact that Apple did not consult with industry prior to the decision, nor are they playing by their own rules – their own personalised ad platform isn’t subject to the revised privacy policy.

How does this affect me as a Facebook Advertiser?

Bigly. Facebook is changing their tracking methodology to allow only EIGHT conversion events per domain – which are only trackable if users opt-in to app tracking.  For the expected 95% of iOS users, only ONE conversion event will be tracked, and even then it will be aggregated data.

Say goodbye to building ad audiences out of shopping-cart abandoners.

Adios to excluding existing customers from promotional campaigns.

Ciao to reaching relevant prospects via the targeted Audience Network of apps and mobile websites.

Au revoir to auto-optimised campaigns generating accurate cost-per-lead results.

In layman’s terms, the hyper-targeted stream of ads, audiences and subsequent sales from Facebook & Instagram will halt to a trickle overnight.

It’s not that results will necessarily cease – but the ability to attribute them to Facebook will stop abruptly.

Aaahhh!!! Help – What Do I Do Now?

There are 5 actions you need to take right now to adapt to this inevitable update.

1. Clean Up Your Account.
Simplify to a singular pixel, since the limited conversion events apply across multiple pixels. If you don’t have access to your Business Manager account – get it now. You’ll need this for Action #2. You will also need to consolidate all Facebook pixels down to a single pixel ID for each top-level domain – meaning if you have multiple sub-domains or sub-folders on a single domain, you’ll need to restructure and reprioritise.

2. Verify your Domain in Business Manager.
You will need to verify your domain using the steps outlined in the Facebook Help Center. This is critical for businesses with pixels used by multiple Business Managers or personal ad accounts. Domain verification will ensure no immediate or future disruption in the ability to configure conversion events (additional instructions here).

3. Plan your 8 conversion events per domain and rank them.
If you use more than 8 conversion events per domain for optimization or reporting, prepare an action plan for how to operate with 8 conversion events per domain based on your business priorities. You will not need to make changes to the pixel or Conversions API implementation as event configuration will be done in Events Manager.

4. Revise Your Expectations.
Prepare for attribution window changes (deprecation of 28-day click-through, 28-day view-through, and 7-day view-through windows). Your tracked and reported conversions are about to decline significantly – you will need to be patient and reset your expectations once data is available post-update.

5. Update Existing Campaigns.
Update ad set goals because if the target conversion is not in your 8 events, the ad set will be automatically paused. Also, Revise any rules or targets (we suggest opening them up entirely) until you have a baseline post-update.  After the initial change and all subsequent changes, it will take up to 3 days to campaigns to begin serving again so plan out your changes and start early.

Fortunately, at Bonfire we have early access to Facebook resources as a Facebook Marketing Partner, so we’re diligently working with our clients to ensure readiness for the impending update.

If you’re looking for a comprehensive guide on the technical details as well as what to do next, Jon Loomer has an excellent and frequently updated guide available.

NB: everything related to Facebook above applies to Instagram too – as these changes apply to ALL apps collecting and sharing personal data.  Google have yet to provide comment or advice on how this will affect their data collection and advertising systems.

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