In the summer of 2020, when we were all still shell-shocked from COVID-19, Apple announced plans to implement new privacy protections on their devices as part of their iOS 14 rollout. The changes prohibit apps on your phone from tracking your activity and collecting data about you once you leave the app unless you specifically opt-in to the tracking.
Apps like Facebook raised major concerns, prompting Apple to back their implementation date to Spring of 2021. Now we’re here and marketers are preparing for a big shake-up in the way their ads are run and reported.
Most articles about the iOS14 impact on Facebook ads centers around conversion ads and the data companies have become accustomed to gleaning from their Facebook pixel. But what about local brick and mortar businesses who also rely on Facebook ads to reach new audiences and engage with their current customers? Unfortunately, your ads will likely be impacted as well.
If you haven’t read much about the iOS update, here’s the skinny.
In the coming days, Apple users will see a box appear when they open an app that requires them to opt-in to tracking in order for the app they are using to collect data about their activity. Facebook and many other digital platforms opt users into tracking by default and require users to opt-out of tracking by visiting their settings. Very few users ever do this. The new iOS update, however, will force consumers to make a conscious decision to allow apps to track their activity, and marketers expect droves of users to opt-out. Jon Loomer offers a detailed look at the update, Facebook’s reaction, and some of the impact here.
Originally, the largest impact was expected to the audience network where Facebook shows relevant ads to users outside of the Facebook app. We see very little value in the audience network for our clients’ ads and often choose not to run ads there at all. For businesses who focus on newsfeed ads, this part won’t affect the running of your ads.
So what effects will most local businesses notice?
Businesses using the Facebook pixel to track conversions or activity on their website will see a delay in reporting, limits on the number of events they can track on their website, and what data you can see about those events. You won’t be able to compare today’s data to yesterday’s data, or maybe even last year’s data, to judge how your ads are performing.
Be prepared for a drop in ad performance. Once the dust settles, you’ll establish a new baseline for ad success just like you did when you initially started running Facebook and Instagram ads. In some ways, it will be like starting over, but that’s not all bad. Keep reading to find out why.
iOS 14 Effects on Audience Targeting
The most profound effect will be on your audience targeting. For local business Facebook and Instagram ads we usually set a tight geographic boundary with a wider demographic target. Due to the lack of population density in rural areas, we need to cast a wider net to reach a large enough audience to make an impact. We will narrow the audience by interests, age, gender, and behavior when needed. The new iOS rules will change how much interest and behavior information Facebook can collect about users which may narrow those audiences.
In order to cast a wider net, we also create look-a-like audiences based on visitors to the business’s website and their email list. If Facebook can no longer collect data on visitors to the business’s website, that will further limit the ability to create new, fresh audiences. Be prepared for lower audience numbers in both look-a-like and retargeting campaigns.
Benefits of a Fresh Start to Facebook and Instagram Ads
We work hard to refresh our clients’ audiences, ad creative, and goals every month, but it’s easy to stick with a pattern that works. We keep a close eye on our clients’ Facebook and Instagram ads so we know when costs, reach, and engagement vary from what we expect. As we notice the impact on our clients’ ads, we’ll begin to experiment with additional audience settings, new creative, and budgets to find new ways to reach the right audience with our clients’ messages. And we’re always considering other digital marketing strategies such as Google Ads, geofencing, and email marketing.
Where To Go From Here
We’ve built our business helping local companies utilize and manage social media and digital marketing assets. While these changes throw a kink in some of our well-tuned processes, we have plenty of digital options and ideas to keep our businesses growing even with these changes. Right now, we are verifying the domains of our client’s websites inside the Facebook Business manager which will prevent disruption of our clients’ ads. Any business running Facebook and/or Instagram Ads needs to verify their domain now. If you need assistance, we are happy to help.
In addition to verifying your domain, ensure you have the Facebook pixel installed on your website. If you’re already using the Facebook pixel, check your web conversion events. For pixels tracking more than eight conversion events, choose which events you plan to keep and identify which campaigns will be affected. The conversion events you choose to disable will turn off the ad sets associated with those events.
We’ve shared a lot of information here along with some great links to in-depth discussions about the effects of the new iOS14 on Facebook and Instagram reach and traffic ads. We’ll continue to add articles to this series as we learn more and the true effects of these settings become more certain. We’re here to help small businesses succeed. If you’d like to discuss your Facebook ads strategy and how we can help, contact Hilary at email@example.com.