What are the IOS 14+ changes and how is it impacting advertisers?
Updated: Apr 5
iOS 14.5 App Tracking Transparency Update
In April of 2021, Apple rolled out the iOS 14 update, which featured Apple’s anti-tracking App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework. This new feature allows users to decide whether to give a certain app permission to track them across other apps and websites.
Adoption was slow early on as Apple didn’t begin pushing users to upgrade until iOS 14.6 was released in late May. According to AppsFlyer, global adoption of iOS 14.5+ was only 16% by the week of May 25, but it rose to 45% by the week of June 7, with more than three-quarters of those who have installed iOS 14.5 or above choosing not to share their data by the end of June.
How does this impact Facebook advertising?
Facebook is arguably the world’s most influential and impactful digital platform with nearly 2.9 billion monthly active users across the globe. The effects of major privacy updates like the release of the new App Tracking Transparency feature are felt immediately, having a significant impact on brands’ marketing and advertising campaigns. Here are some of the most significant changes advertisers should take note of:
Tracking and Attribution Loss
As more people opt-out of being tracked, pixel actions such as purchase completions, form submissions and add to cart have less numbers reported, resulting in a drop in reported platform conversions. Because of that, it's more difficult to determine which ad campaigns are working. Facebook also used to provide insight into sales/conversion data at a more granular level, for example by platform and device as well as by demographic cohorts. Since the update, Facebook has stopped sharing that level of detail.
Due to less pixel tracking activity of user activity, there will be less data to work with when optimizing ads.
Targeting and Audience Size
Facebook is less reliably able to provide detailed data on customers, including purchase history, which Facebook uses to better understand a client's target market and provide data on "lookalike" audiences. Since Facebook has a smaller sample of data, it’s become more challenging to reach the appropriate target customer. This means that advertisers may be paying to reach someone who doesn’t quite fit their target audience, making the ads less effective. The update also largely affects retargeting audiences as users who visited advertisers’ websites via iOS 14 devices and iOS 14 users who opted-out won’t be tracked.
iOS 14.5 Adoption & ATT Opt-In
iOS 14.5+ adoption rate picked up momentum in early June, following the release of iOS 14.6 in late May, with global adoption rising to 47% the week of June 6. As of June 22, iOS 14.5+ adoption could be as high as 70%, per estimates by mobile attribution firm Branch cited by Digiday.
(Source: Branch sited by Digiday)
As for ATT opt-in rates, they haven’t changed much throughout the iOS 14.5 adoption curve. According to mobile analytics firm, Singular, opt-in rates went from 19.4% in late May to 23.64% in mid-June. Meaning that 23.64% of the time when iOS apps ask for tracking authorization, they get it. More than three-quarters of the time, however, they do not.
iOS Ad Spend
With iOS 14.5+ adoption rates picking up, advertisers are increasing spend on Android devices while we see a significant drop in IOS spend since the start of the year. This in turn is driving up CPMs for Android devices. Using our own data we took a look at how this has impacted conversion campaigns.
Impact From IOS 14 Changes On Facebook CPM
Clients across Facebook have seen varied impacts on CPMs since IOS14 changes. We ran an analysis across 8 partners in different verticals. Our findings were consistent across partners:
Highlights + Next Steps:
The data we pulled is specifically for conversion-based campaigns
Advertisers are shifting spend away from IOS to Android driving up costs.
We encourage advertisers to test breaking out campaigns by device type and monitoring the divergence + ratio of Facebook conversions Vs backend tracking
On Average Advertisers Are Seeing 20%-40% Loss in Attribution Due To IOS 14.5 Changes
Apple's iOS 14 created a buzz in the market even before launching for not all right reasons. Customers, advertising agencies, and businesses all around the world were looking forward to the announcement of the new operating system, but the announcement didn’t come without some friction to advertisers. Since the rollout, many advertisers are seeing a negative impact on advertising platforms and aren’t user how to account for it. Here’s what you need to know:
Almost every advertiser on Facebook is starting to see a drop in attribution causing performance to look worse than it is.
Advertisers have to readjust their CPA targets or their actualized data within their ad platforms to account for any attribution loss that is currently taking place.
Advertisers with budgets less than $10K a month will see a lot of volatility as adoption increases where conversions aren’t registering in the ad platforms. This doesn’t mean conversions aren’t happening, we’re just not tracking them.
Advertisers with higher price points or products/services which need longer consideration will see a higher attribution loss Vs advertiser that typically have purchases right away.
We recommend looking at GA, and total business as your leading indicators for performance. For example, if you are seeing consistent GA or total business performance in terms of CPA/ROAS, but a lower conversions on the platforms, then test scaling to see that performance holds up in terms of divergence and conversion ratio on the backend.
We Know We’re Losing Attribution, But What Do We Do Next?
Advertisers have a few different options as to how they can adjust Facebook platform performance to account for attribution loss:
Our first and most important recommendation to start off is to ensure that you are tracking correctly across 2-3 backend platforms such as GA and Shopify. This is because ad platforms will start to see an increase in consistency. Next be sure to leverage UTM parameters across your source, medium, campaign, ads, and channels.
Click here to view how to implement UTM parameter [Click Here]
Follow the exercise to account for any attribution loss. Once you have determined your attribution loss, you can then forecast if you should keep your budgets steady, pull back or continue to diversify into other channels.
Let your total business/blended CPA, be the driver of your spend, and decision making because if Facebook is under-reporting, and you pull back, this may have a detrimental effect on overall business performance
We’ve seen a negative impact on niche audiences/targeted audiences which is why we recommend testing:
Broader audiences gated by Geo, gender, age, and device type. We’ve consistently seen Run-of-Network outperform smaller more targeted audiences
A change in spend allocation strategy where you split budgets between:
Direct to site ads coming from your brand
Partnering with influencers to drive creatives from their handles
Blogs that can provide third party validation + educate readers about your products and services
Developing new creatives
We like to only run 4-5 ads per ad set while our creative team continuously cranks out 2-3 new creatives to test on a weekly basis. Once we determine new winners, we then rotate these creatives into our evergreen strategies which help keep the account fresh.
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Digicom is a boutique digital marketing agency based in New York City. We are a team of versatile growth marketers with the ability to turn early-stage companies into household names. We act as a high-touch agency, managing the growth of our clients' marketing channels and advising across all aspects of their customer acquisition programs.