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  • Writer's pictureEntrigue Consulting

How Apple’s iOS Update Impacts Facebook Ads

Updated: Aug 17, 2023

You’re checking your Facebook ads per usual only to find that your once-amazing reach has dropped– by a huge percentage. What happened? You’re using the exact same audience… We have two words for you: iOS 14.

In September of 2020, Apple released iOS 14, also known as the bane of every Facebook advertiser’s existence. Since that update, Apple has started to ask mobile users to opt in to ad conversion and tracking data. Yup, that’s right– the exact data that Facebook relies on to create accurate and data-rich audiences. iPhone users that choose to opt out of conversion and tracking data are now unavailable for targeting by Facebook ads. As is perhaps expected, only 17 percent of people worldwide are opting into tracking and only 10 percent of U.S. users have opted in.

Even for users who do opt in to tracking, Apple is regulating how Facebook is receiving and using the data. For example, Apple’s Private Click Measurement (PCM) protocol will create a three-day delay in attribution data for iOS 14.5 users. On top of that, advertisers who are attempting to reach Apple users are now limited to eight conversion events per website. The iOS 14 update also impacts the way in which Facebook is able to receive and process conversion events from tools like the Facebook pixel. Without conversion data, the Facebook pixel tool is unable to function.

iPhone IOS 14 Update and Ad Performance

How iOS 14 Impacts Your Social Media Advertising

iOS 14 has three major impacts on your Facebook ad performance: you’ll see changes in targeting options, changes in analytics, and changes to the cost of your advertising.

The update for iPhone users has limited zip code targeting if your Facebook ad is related to credit or financing, or if the pricing would change based on the demographic. Geographically, the smallest area you can target is one square kilometer. If you work in the Real Estate or Healthcare industries, you’ll notice that you now have to go through additional verification processes. All of this is to say that data collection is reduced, your retargeting audiences are going to be a lot smaller, and the data source for lookalike audiences is now degraded.

Have you noticed changes in the quality of your analytics reporting? Facebook pixel conversion metrics like ROAS and CPA have become inaccurate after the iOS update. If your business relies on social media advertising metrics like gender, user age, ad placement, and targeted location, you’ll be out of luck as it’s no longer possible to break down your audience demographics into these categories.

Apple update and social media ads

Are Facebook ads more expensive than they used to be? It’s not just your imagination– there’s been an overall decrease in ad performance and personalization and an increase in cost per action. Now, Facebook advertisers have to spend more money in hopes of reaching iPhone users. Whereas before you could measure campaign effectiveness down to a penny, that’s no longer possible.

Facebook is just as unhappy about all of these changes due to the iOS 14 update as their advertisers. Meta’s earnings report showed a $250 billion cut in Facebook’s value after iOS 14 implementation. Last year, the iOS 14 update was estimated to have cost Facebook $10 billion in revenue.

Social media advertising is Facebook’s bread and butter. In order to salvage their revenue, Meta has been working on an aggregated event measurement workaround. While the workaround won’t be able to tell advertisers which individual users clicked on a link or downloaded an app after seeing an ad, it can tell them what a larger group of users did.

You may even already be using another workaround to the iOS 14 update: digital storefronts on Facebook and Instagram. Not only do these digital storefronts generate revenue, but they also collect user data without Apple’s interference.

How to Improve Your Social Media Advertising Performance

So, thanks to iOS 14, should you stop paying to advertise on Meta platforms? No, of course not. There are several different ways you can step up your social media advertising and get better results despite Apple’s interference.

Capitalize on your existing Facebook audience and on users who have previously interacted with your Facebook ads. This is data that Facebook is authorized to collect as the users voluntarily engage with your page and ads. You can still target users who have interacted with a past ad, watched one of your videos, or engaged with your page.

How’s your ad creative? Is it looking its best or could it be improved? Stepping up your ad creative is a great way to make the most of your ad budget. With a smaller audience engaging with your ad, you want to make every click count.

paid ads performance

Are you using UTM tracking on all of your links? UTM tracking is your best bet to ensure you’re getting accurate analytics on your social media campaigns via Google Analytics. While it’s not perfect, it will provide you with detailed analysis you won’t find on Facebook. Setting up UTM tracking is easy; Google walks you through it here.

Last but not least, don’t be afraid to ask for help. The world of social media advertising is a complex jungle that’s easy to get lost in. Work with a marketing agency that’s familiar with the iOS update and can customize workarounds for your business. Click here to talk to one of our experienced account managers.


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