* This post was originally published on December 30, 2020. Scroll to the bottom for the latest updates.
A new Apple iOS policy increasing privacy options for its users could impact how well your digital advertising performs in the coming months.
What Apple Is Changing
Earlier this year, Apple announced its next iOS 14 update will include an option for users to opt out of any in-app data collection in apps like Facebook and Instagram.
The update gives users the option to block the IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers), which means that iOS will cloak their personal info, but still provide in-app data:
When Will This Update Take Place?
Apple didn’t launch the IDFA changes with iOS 14 in September, but have announced they’ll add the changes sometime in early 2021.
Why is Apple Making this Privacy Change?
Apple’s position is that users deserve an opportunity to choose whether or not their data is collected.
In response to the backlash from advertisers and specifically Facebook, Apple released this statement:
“We believe that this is a simple matter of standing up for our users. Users should know when their data is being collected and shared across other apps and websites — and they should have the choice to allow that or not. App Tracking Transparency in iOS 14 does not require Facebook to change its approach to tracking users and creating targeted advertising, it simply requires they give users a choice.”
How Is Facebook Responding?
Facebook has publicly come out with a direct response, launching press releases and ads positioning themselves as an advocate for small businesses:
Facebook’s full page ad placed in The Wall Street Journal and other top publications
Facebook has cited tests and use cases on how the change will dramatically reduce the effectiveness of advertising on Facebook.
In the ad, they claim that the average small business advertiser stands to see a cut of over 60% in their sales for every dollar they spend.
That’s a huge reduction in ROI on Facebook advertising, and it could have some very real consequences for your upcoming digital campaigns.
Will the Impact Be As Dramatic As Facebook Makes It Sound?
It’s hard to say until we see how the changes impact campaigns in real time.
However, the response to Facebook’s stance has been contentious.
A recent article in Wired argued that Facebook is primarily concerned about a dip in its profits rather than the welfare of small businesses, and that the impact might even be beneficial in the long-term by creating a more fair Facebook ad marketplace.
Increased privacy may not necessarily mean decreased advertising results, but we’ll have to wait and see.
Is Facebook Reacting By Changing Its Policies?
So far, Facebook hasn’t announced any changes of their own, focusing their energy on publicly criticizing Apple.
Facebook’s own policy changes around election cycles and their response to privacy concerns with data breaches have led to more hoops to jump through for advertisers like lengthier, inconsistent ad approval processes and uneven ad distribution.
As Apple’s update goes into effect, we may see Facebook respond with tactical changes to the advertising model and algorithms. In the meantime, we’re on our own.
How Are Marketers Responding?
With the new Apple policy change, marketers are calling for Facebook to open up its algorithms and promote increased organic visibility for smaller pages.
There are also loud calls for Facebook to adapt their paid advertising model to include more transparency for marketers and new measures for better targeting.
How Will this Impact My Facebook Advertising?
The new update from Apple – and no new updates from Facebook – will affect advertising in two known key areas:
- Ad Retargeting: Retargeting users who have opted out of IDFA and visit your site through their Apple iOS device is now off the table (unless you’re targeting based on their email or phone number)
- Ad Measurement & Reporting: The clarity of conversion data may not match what leads actually come through the door with a whole new segment of your audience now operating in the dark. This will also impact Facebook’s ability to limit ad frequency with iOS 14 audiences and deliver your ads to the best audiences.
Those are the known changes. There may be lots of ancillary consequences with the update itself or with these tech giants tweaking their algorithms and responding in real time.
What Does This Mean for My Upcoming Digital Campaigns with Magneti?
We’re keeping a close eye on the data, studies, and results that are arriving from the new Apple update and its impact on paid advertising through Facebook & Instagram.
If you’re advertising on those channels with us, especially with a smaller, limited budget, we may see an increase in the cost-per-click it takes to get a qualified lead in the next few months.
We may also see a reduction in the overall volume of qualified leads that come in the door (and a higher volume of unqualified leads).
- Our ability to target with ads, the frequency that our audience sees our ads, our cost-per-click, and our cost-per-result will likely be affected.
- It will be tougher to target user demographics as well as user actions taken on websites.
- Conversion tracking will not be as accurate through Facebook and Instagram.
We’ll Pivot Together
If we see an impact on results, we may shift your budget to other paid promotional channels like Google Ads, and spend more time on earned and owned channels like email, organic social, or web work with the goal of increasing your organic rankings.
We’ll make necessary changes to conversion tracking, audience targeting, and budgeting based on performance.
- We may shift your budget around to improve performance on each paid marketing channel and individual campaign.
- Results-reporting may become a more collaborative exercise: Here are the leads we’re seeing on Facebook. Here are the leads that converted in HubSpot. How many new customers have you seen in this time frame?
While Facebook has historically been the gold standard for quick, limited-budget growth through paid PPC advertising, we’re seeing the landscape change in real time.
Chat with your AMs and MMs about where you can pivot for lead gen activities and for more transparent ways to reach your audience effectively.
What You Can Do in the Meantime
While tools like Facebook’s algorithms have done the hard work of finding our audiences for us, changes like this make it more important than ever to own that information yourself.
Outside of lead gen, in-depth research on your audience and their behaviors is one of the most valuable ways to invest your marketing dollars.
Don’t rely on an algorithm to tell you who your audience is – especially when it can change overnight.
Update as of March 4, 2021
Facebook has recently rolled out a resource center to help you prepare for the changes.
When we clicked inside, we found a few snippets of information from Facebook with zero action to take:
The information includes three “updates” that are worth exploring a bit:
The first two informational blurbs match what we’ve heard from Facebook: smaller audience sizes and less accurate reporting due to the increased privacy.
The “New limit on web events” section, specifically the line “Advertisers will be able to use up to 8 conversion events from a single website domain,” is new information and means that if you’re running campaigns and planning to track conversion types like Lead, Purchase, Landing Page View, etc. in Facebook via an installed pixel, you’ll now be capped at eight at any given time.
Should I be worried about that? Probably not. It’s rare for any single organization to be tracking that many different types of conversions in the first place.
Update on Timing
The latest we’ve heard from Apple is an “early spring” release. Meanwhile, you can track the whole development of this Facebook vs. Apple dispute, including the latest updates, with this timeline put together by Inc.
Other Privacy & Paid Advertising News
- Facebook announced this week that political ads will be allowed back on its platform. Google, which put a political ad ban in place following the January 6th Capitol insurrection, lifted theirs in February.
- Google has announced that within the next two years, it will “phase out” third-party cookies in Chrome, joining Safari and Firefox in a push for increased browser privacy. This could substantially impact advertisers’ ability to track and target people based on their search history.
The push for user privacy among tech giants is growing, and it will continue to impact the world of paid advertising. We’ll keep you updated as more changes come into play.