Apple’s IOS 14 update and Facebook ads

Updated: Apr 22, 2021 | Sherwin Sanchez | 3 mins.

What is it?

In June 2020 Apple announced an updated data policy covering the data privacy of their users. Apple’s new policy for IOS 14 will require that all apps in the app store show users a prompt asking users if they want to allow tracking.  

In the words of Apple: 

“Privacy is a fundamental human right and at the core of everything we do. That’s why with iOS 14, we’re giving you more control over the data you share and more transparency into how it’s used.”

In the words of Facebook:

“Apple’s forced software update, which will limit business’ ability to run personalised ads and reach their customers effectively”

“Without personalized ads, Facebook data shows that the average small business advertiser stands to see a cut of over 60% in their sales for every dollar they spend”

Why does it matter?

The restricted access to data will affect advertising on Facebook in many ways. Facebook has reportedly spent over a billion fighting these changes including running full-page ads in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal (excerpts above). Some reports predict that the impact of these changes could be as much as a 7% drop in revenue for Facebook.  So it’s a big deal.

From an advertisers point of view, this reduction in data will change the way Facebook ads can be managed and reported on. With this update, it forecasted up to 50% of website conversion data could be lost (i.e not visible to Facebook anymore). This also means that reporting and optimization of the campaigns will change as there is fewer data to work with.

What will change?

– The Conversion Window Changes or Attribution will be set to 7-day view and 1-day click as default (from 28 day/1 clicks). This means the number of leads/purchases attributed to Facebook ads will be reduced (by up to 50% by some estimates), and therefore the amount of data available to manage and optimize these campaigns will be reduced

– There will be an (up to 3 days) delay in available data in the ads manager, again affecting the management and reporting on the campaign.

Retargeting capabilities, which can be some of the most profitable campaigns to run, will also be impacted and audiences will be smaller – anyone who opted out of tracking will not be able to be retargeted!

Granular reporting will be limited – eg demographic breakdowns will no longer be available

– Facebook ads are going to potentially look less profitable as viability is lost on conversion data.

– Managing Facebook ads is going to take more skill. The Facebook AI is going to have fewer data to work with and so potentially ads manager will become more manual. (currently, Facebook advises each ad set needs 50 conversion events per week before the AI can really kick in. Hitting the 50 number is going to become harder.)

What can you do now as an advertiser?

IOS 14 is scheduled to start rolling out the week beginning April 26th. This doesn’t mean the changes will be felt immediately as not all users will update their phone immediately, but as time goes on more users will update and the impact will grow.

Verify your domain

To minimise the impact the very first step to take as a business owner is to verify your domain. To do this go to the Business Manager> Domain> Add Domain and follow the instruction:



Define priority events

Advertisers should prepare or define their priority events (e.g. Purchase event for Ecommerce store/ Leads event for Lead Generation etc.). Once IOS 14 rolls out a maximum of 8 Pixel events will be allowed per domain

Once the domain has been verified and events defined an advertiser needs to set/confirm the priority of events. To do so go to events manager, and click on Aggregated Events and then Configure events

In here click ‘Manage Event’  and make sure the correct events are in the right order. EG a ‘purchase event’ is a higher priority event than an ‘add to cart’ .



Start using a new attribution window now to prepare and compare 

Another change coming is the changes to attribution windows

Previously Facebook rans on a 28 day click / 1 day view attribution. This means facebook counts / reports on the impact of the ads for 28 days after the click or 1 day after ad exposure. This has changed to 7 day click  / 1 day view attribution. This will impact perceived ROI on campaigns as fewer conversions are recorded/attributed to Facebook. 

To understand the change advertisers should consider updating the columns inside Ads Manager to compare the models. This will help you understand how the changes will impact the account.

To do this click on the the column tab on the top left of ads manager and click ‘compare attributions’ 

Then click 28 day click / 1 day view and 7 day click

To compare the models Add the results of 28 day click and 1 day view and compare that to the current model 

In this example you can see campaign 1 / line 1 generated 34 ‘Add to cart’ events as measured by 7 day click  / 1 day view. Under the old attribution model ( 28 day click / 1 day view) it generated 45 (2 + 43 / 1 day + 28 days). This is a 32 % difference in reported conversions. Across these 5 campaigns there is 25% difference in reported conversions.



UTM Tracking

Advertisers will also need to start using additional data sources to get a better gauge on facebook advertising results. The most obvious place to start is Google Analytics, and to ensure that your data is properly tracked advertisers should:

– UTM tag campaigns so the source of the traffic can be properly attributed

– Ensure your key goals/conversion points are also set up in Google Analytics.

What is my option to get more accurate data?

Switch to server-to-server reporting

Another solution to consider implementing is Facebook’s Conversions API (CAPI). This tool will aid the reporting of website events (sales, conversations etc.) to Facebook using server-to-server data transfer. What it means is that your server reports directly to Facebook’s server using a secured connection, without relying on any browser cookies.

Facebook via CAPI sharing data is more secure and discreet, and is also less susceptible to browser malfunction. You should integrate the API from within your server, which means you need a developer to implement the code. Some 3rd-party Facebook partners like shopify provide integration tools that make it easy. Not all advertisers can or will implement this.


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