April 25 2021 – Varun Sharma
The digital world is constantly in flux, with exciting and intriguing changes coming our way regularly. One of the biggest splashes in the digital tech and marketing world was made earlier this year by Apple, who announced a major change that would come with their iOS 14 updates.
Apple declared that each app would now offer an opt-in choice to the user, asking if they would consent to third-party apps like Facebook being able to access and track their data. Understandably, this is quite the move, which once more pits Facebook against Apple, and the whole tech world is still talking about the various possibilities that could emerge out of it for the two giants, and of course their users and consumers.
The idea behind this move, of course, was to enhance user privacy and protect user data, with the clear consent of the user in all of it. As such, this has always been a part of Apple’s motto regarding their customers- the emphasis on privacy and on data security. Clearly, all those in the digital marketing sphere were concerned as to how this would impact advertising such as Facebook ads and crowdfunding. The number of users reached via Facebook ads as such was then expected to go down, and Facebook declared late last year that due to this, Audience Network Revenue could go down around 50%.
The implementation of these updates is even more alien for Facebook because Facebook had clearly used an opt-out strategy previously rather than an opt-in one. This means that they would inform users that their data was being collected, how and why, but would offer the option to opt out of this if the user changed their settings. Apple is executing the reverse of this- the user will now be allowed to directly choose if they want their data tracked.
1. How will permissions for data tracking show up due to iOS 14 updates?
A prompt will show up on the device screen when the app is first launched, asking clearly if the user wants to allow data tracking, or does not want the app to track their data. Hence, there are quite a few tasks that will ask user permission for accessing data, and likely at different points of use-
- The app will have to seek consent to access and track the location data of the user’s device.
- The app will also have to take permission to access email addresses and advertising IDs if it needs to use that data to reshare and possibly target users of similar apps.
- Permission will be required to show advertisements that are targeted on basis of user data that is taken from other apps and websites.
- The use of SDK (Software Development Kit), in particular a third-party SDK, will require user permission if it works by taking user data from the respective app as well as other apps for targeted advertising. The SDK could also be used to check the efficiency of the advertising process. However, irrespective of whether the SDKs are being used for these reasons, user consent will be requisite.
2. What's all the buzz about iOS14 updates?
This piece of news came as particularly troublesome to small businesses and small to medium marketers globally. Facebook ads had gained popularity for enterprises and small businesses in particular because they help in attracting the target audience of the business and are useful in increasing conversion rates. Especially in this pandemic, tools such as Facebook ads were able to serve smaller businesses well by providing sources of income and boosting sales which had otherwise fallen in general.
Apple’s decision to offer an opt-in option for data tracking means that such businesses might not be able to access that data anymore, should the user opt out. Consequently, the possibility of targeted campaigns will grow lower and less effective, and the boost previously provided by Facebook ads won’t be as useful. Moreover, the updates are expected to lower the level of personalization in ads, because the advertiser no longer has full access to tracking user data.
This can all lead to a significant loss for the small businesses, which will not be able to reach their audience as effectively as they did before. As of 2020, Facebook was being used regularly by about 160 million businesses to reach their audience base and increase sales and engagement. Many of these businesses would now have to rethink their advertising strategy with the new update. This is largely the growing concern Facebook expressed it had with the potential updates from Apple.
3. Effects of iOS 14 updates
From what has been gathered so far, however, there will be changes, but not all of them so worrisome. Here are the major changes the iOS 14 updates will cause-
3.1 Change in ad tracking tracking due to iOS 14 updates
The most important change perhaps is regarding the tracking of user data. Since the update offers the choice to allow or disallow tracking, to the user, there will be many users who automatically decide to opt out of it. That alone will reduce the overall amount of data at your disposal, as a business.
Moreover, while you were previously able to access and track each individual data, all you can track now is a total of 8 conversions for those who have allowed tracking. For those who have not, you will be able to track only one conversion. However, this cloud has a silver lining too. While Facebook will assign and categorize the 8 most important events of conversion for you, you can always go back and change which events those are. Then you can ask Facebook to show you the conversion data for these events in high to low, or vice versa order. This way you will still have a good idea regarding user behavior on your site.
In terms of tracking, another change will be seen when users are located in a different place geographically than the merchant site. In that case, the redirection will be back to the user’s regional website and Facebook might not note this down as a proper conversion.
3.2 Changes in measurement and attribution of Facebook ads due to iOS 14 updates
The amount of time you were able to track user data and actions, is also up for a reduction. Previously, Facebook would remember user actions of clicking on an ad for 28 days past the action and would store it as a conversion if the user made a purchase in those 28 days. Now, Facebook will only remember this action for a period of 7 days, after which you can no longer track and access the data. This can make matters a bit difficult in terms of tracking long-term movement and data since a month is a considerably longer period of time to evaluate and analyze such information as opposed to a week.
A surge in dark traffic can also be anticipated with this update. This is because the measurement criteria will change and there will be distinct under-reporting for many channels, both paid and otherwise. On dark media traffic anyway, people are sharing things privately, so you don’t get to track that either.
3.3 Delayed reporting
A major benefit of Facebook ad tracking was that you would be able to see the results almost immediately, so you could move faster and have quicker access to important data. However, with this update, data tracking is bound to be fairly delayed, and you will have to wait for some time for the results to generate. This is basically due to Private Click Measurement (PCM), which will cause about a three-day delay in data reporting, and can lead to improper attribution of data due to the amount and kind of redirection.
Along with delayed reporting, you might also be missing some additional info and insight on certain data, such as the demographics of the users. As of January 2021, it was seen that 98.3% of Facebook users use the app via their mobile devices, so the update will generally affect the way you can target these users, who might disallow data tracking. Thus, advertisers and marketers need to find other ways of gaining access to the data they need from their users.
Crowdfunding will also be affected by this delay in reporting. It is known that campaigns always have to move fast and marketers should constantly be alert and, on the watch, but with this update and the delayed tracking, they will have to be quicker than ever. The advertisers will also have to seek solutions to make up for the gaps in reporting that will begin appearing more often particularly for users who opt out of allowing data tracking.
3.4 Modification of how reservation funnel works
Crowdfunding will be affected by the iOS 14 update in the working of the reservation funnel. While previously the algorithm allowed to see both cost per reservation and per head, the system will have changed now because of the reduced tracking, and can thus impact crowdfunding.
3.5 Facebook pixel won't necessarily work. You need Conversion API
On platforms that do not allow the use of Facebook pixel (such as Kickstarter), there won’t be an issue. However, on those that do, such as Indiegogo, you will be unable to verify your domain with Facebook. Hence it would be a better idea to optimize your main page or landing page, where you don’t need the domain to be verified for views.
3.6 Integration of older tracking methods with the new
One good thing that can come out of this is definitely the use of older tracking and marketing methods combined with the Facebook pixel. There are certain strategies you can employ yourself, such as sale offers and coupon codes categorized based on sources of website traffic, and can then use this data to transfer onto Facebook, and thus streamline and direct the traffic. Considering that tracking itself will be rendered much less effective than it was before the updates, it would be a good practice to work on alternative mechanisms to track user behavior and patterns.
4. How you can prepare beforehand to handle the update
While the iOS 14 updates might seem daunting in prospect, particularly to smaller marketers and advertisers, there are certain things you can do to be well-prepared and ensure that the transition is smooth.
4.1. Domain verification
- An important first step to take is to verify your domain with Facebook. This is a good way to ensure that your presence is official on the platform. You can provide evidence that you own the domain by adding to your DNS record a DNS TXT entry.
- Be sure that you are signed into the Business Manager account so that you can verify the domain.
- An easy way to proceed to the DNS TXT entry would be to go to Business Settings, then select Brand Safety, and finally the Domains option. Here you can select the Add option to write down your domain name. You will then get a TXT record.
- After that, you can log in to wherever you access your DNS, proceed to add or edit DNS records, and enter the domain verification. Save it, and you’re done here. All you have to do is wait, up to 72 hours, check back in your Business Manager Account, and select the verify option from the Domains category. That’s it!
4.2 Select the events you want optimized for tracking
As mentioned, only eight conversion events are what the updates will allow you to track henceforth. Thus, you need to make sure you select the list of eight events that you want Facebook to optimally track for you. This is very important because it’ll help you still be able to retain some of the targetings you put in place for your audience. However, if you want to customize the event list, you must remember that this might take up to 3 days to be implemented.
4.3. Analyze and contrast changes in the tracking period
It is important to observe the changes the new tracking period brings about, with the shift from the 28-day period to the 7-day window. From the 8th to the 28th day, you will have to record the data carefully so that it all adds up cohesively afterwards at the end of the month. You must keep in mind that Facebook’s modified algorithm because of these updates will also not be able to show you the entire purchase process of a consumer. It can only show the final step the consumer took, i.e., the event that ranked the highest in the process.
Although this does not sound so difficult to tackle, there is a loss of data in between because you won’t know what products the consumer considered, what they abandoned, how long they were on a page, if the final action they took was the purchase. To combat this gap, you will really have to reach out to your target audience in different ways such as by emails and survey forms, for instance.
Further, you can make use of some of these extra measures-
- Alternative ways to reach out to your audience- While Facebook pixels and ads might have been your preferred option till now to reach your target audience, you can now resort to other means of seeking info from them. You can ask them to sign up for additional content, offers, and more, for instance.
- In order to ensure that your website and your advertising strategy remain mostly untouched by the impact of the updates, you can also use tools to help with data, such as Conversion API, and matching software such as Auto-Advanced Matching. However, you might need a developer to take care of this and set it up.
- You can use dynamic ads in your marketing campaign. While smaller campaigns oriented towards retargeting might suffer a lag and low audience, broader campaigns should be able to hold their own. If you have active links that consumers can click on, try to ensure they are on the same domain, for minimal redirection and hence less chance of data loss. You may also use one pixel for each catalog, as Facebook recommends.
5. A final note
The digital technology realm is full of change and rapid movement. Before we even know it, newer tech and updates are rolled out, replacing ones we barely had a chance to keep up with. The iOS 14 update is definitely significant and one that digital marketers need to watch out for, and should know how to use to their benefit. However, it’s not all that bad, considering some positive differences it brings, and the fact that it won’t affect your entire traffic, only a portion of it.
Similarly, not all users will choose to disallow data tracking, and remember that those who are using non-iOS devices will not be affected at all. This is a time when small marketers may need to move with caution, but speed, and will be able to make the most of it after all. At the end of the day, there will be more updates and more changes being rolled out on all fronts, so take one step at a time, and you’ll surely come out on top of the digital marketing game, even after these changes!