Apple vs. Facebook – what will happen to Facebook ads?

Apple’s new App Tracking Transparency feature is causing a row between the two tech giants, but what does it mean for targeted Facebook ads?

Apple says the feature (rolling out in IOS 14.5) will give users more privacy and control over how they share their data – by forcing Apps like Facebook to explicitly ask for permission to track users’ online activities.

But if millions of Apple users refuse tracking, Facebook’s lucrative and highly targeted advertising model could be thrown in to disarray.

What does this mean for Facebook ads?

Nobody know for sure what the full extent of the impact will be yet, but it is likely that it will be harder to track website referrals and conversions from Facebook, particularly using the Facebook Pixel. Three key things will change:

  • Reduced accuracy of targeting

If large volumes of users opt out of tracking, it will be difficult to target users by specific interests using Facebook pixel data. It will also affect re-targeting where you show adverts to people who have interacted with them, or your website, previously.

  • Less effective optimisation

It will become harder to assess which ads are driving conversions and therefore which ads to optimise.

  • Changes to reporting

Comparisons to previous data will now be misaligned. Previously a conversion could be tracked within a 28-day window. But the conversion can now only be attributed to an ad if it happens in a seven day window.  This might impact upon the Return on Investment (ROI) reported for adverts because you ‘lose’ users converting between eight and 28 days after interacting with an ad – they would be considered a direct referral rather than a Facebook referral.

The operating system is rolling out now, but it will be a little while before the full impact is felt as users update their settings and people upgrade to iPhones running the latest iOS.

How has Genesis prepared?

We’re proactively adjusting our approach to tracking and reporting to follow new best practice. This involves:

  • Configuring conversion events for tracking in Google Analytics

Facebook says you can only track eight conversion events by domain (terrible for some e-commerce models but ok for everyone else). So, we are making sure the right priorities are included in those events to preserve the integrity of clients’ most important analytics data.

  • Domain verification

This establishes which Business Manager accounts can configure your conversion events.

  • Testing conversion events within the Facebook platform

If a client’s target audience uses Facebook and responds well to Facebook marketing, we can experiment with on-platform lead capture using ’lead ads’ which allow for pre-populated forms capable of delivering customer details straight to your CMS.

  • Varying campaign types

We work with clients to create integrated, multi-channel campaigns. We use our experience and knowledge to test ideas and work out how your audience responds to different approaches and different channels.

There are other ways to target (Facebook custom audiences) or retarget (email marketing lists) so there is no need to panic just yet. There are also some promising reports about conversion rates using Google’s cohorts; a new grouping technique based on browsing behaviour.

Nobody know the extent of the impact the App Tracking Transparency feature will have, so we will be monitoring and analysing the data.

Users are increasingly demanding more control over whether they share their data and how it is used. Marketing and performance tracking will adapt, as it has always done, and so will Genesis.

How can we help?

If you have any questions based on the upcoming changes being brought to Facebook, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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