An Apple Update a Day Keeps the Facebook Tracking Away

Ty Kiser
February 9, 2021

Tech giant Apple had a busy 2020: They rolled out new products, went all-in on OTT/CTV, and created new content. Now, they’re working on a new iOS software update for everyone’s iPhone. This has not rolled out yet, but still tons of people are thrilled about this—except Facebook

This much-talked-about update, which includes App Transparency Tracking, forced Facebook to make significant changes to their ad platform. But before we get into that, we should first look at why Facebook and Apple are currently not getting along.

The short answer is data. In general, Apple is trying to be more protective of its users’ data. As part of App Transparency Tracking, they’ve now made it mandatory that all apps within the App Store show a prompt that allows users to opt-out of having their data collected.

A user will have to physically opt-in and allow apps to collect and share their data. If the user opts out, this will prevent certain types of data from being collected and shared. Even though Apple has always allowed users to opt out of data collection and sharing, they’ve never been this upfront and transparent about it. Instead of hiding the option in your settings, they’re now putting it right in front of your face and telling you exactly what the app plans to collect and share. 

So why is Facebook all freaked out?

Well, Facebook is guessing that a lot of people will be opting out of data collection—especially because they don’t have the best reputation when it comes to data. If you don’t remember, in 2018, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had 10 hours of Congressional court questioning that was all about data usage.

So if you’re running ads on Facebook or planning to do so in the future, how does this affect you or your business? 

According to Facebook, there will be a few things to take note of if you’re currently running ads on their platform.

First, ad personalization will start to change. With people opting out of having their data collected and shared, Facebook will have less data to work with. This will then make it more difficult for the platform to find which ad will be most relevant to the correct audience. These conditions can lead to ads being less personal to the individual user. 

Second, ad targeting will be affected because less data means a smaller bull’s eye. This will make targeting more difficult because if Facebook doesn’t have information on their users, they won’t know which ad will be the most effective for a specific user.

Third, the conversion window is getting smaller. The platform moved to a shorter attribution window (seven days) for active campaigns. This is because Apple won’t let you track beyond a certain amount of time, so if conversion behavior took place beyond the initial seven days after viewing or clicking on an ad, Facebook doesn’t count those people anymore.

Is it time to panic or go back to sending out mailers?

Short answer: No. These changes to your advertising practices don’t mark the end. You’ll just need to take some steps so your advertising does not skip a beat. Most of these fixes can be done right on Facebook, but a few will require some outside help. 

Fix #1: Verify your business domain. If you’re using a Facebook Pixel, you should go and verify your domain. This will allow you the opportunity to continue using your web pixel even when Facebook switches to Aggregated Event Measurement, a fancy word for the post-Apple conversion changes.

Fix #2: Get rid of clutter in Event Manager. With the platform switching to Aggregated Event Measurement, it will only allow you to have up to 8 conversion events per domain. Figure out the best way to make your funnel precise and eliminate any additional clutter. This will help avoid Facebook pausing your ad set and allow you to still use your events. 

Fix #3: Get creative with your reporting. Advertising on Facebook doesn’t mean that you have to get your reporting from Facebook. Using Google services such as Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager will allow you to set up events, track website traffic, and attribute it to social platforms through referral traffic. You can also use UTM codes to track if users are clicking on the link that you’ve added to your ad.

This isn’t the end of Facebook advertising by any stretch. As marketers, we always need to be ready to pivot at a moment’s notice, and this is just one of those situations where pivoting will be our best move. Make these changes to your domain, Business Manager, and reporting tools, and you’ll still be able to see the fruits of your labor and have the ability to track and report your KPIs. 

If you have any questions, let’s chat!