April 22, 2021

3 Reasons the iOS 14 Update Isn’t the End of the World for Your Facebook Ads

By Mary Kate Gulick 

Today, we’re going to talk about something that has been weighing heavily on the minds of marketers…particularly marketers for nonprofits and small businesses who rely heavily on Facebook and Instagram ads to personalize their promotions.


The iOS 14 update and what it means for your Facebook and Instagram ads.


(Insert scary “dun, dun, DUUUUUN” music).


Let’s all take a breath. This update is inconvenient, for sure. But it is not going to destroy Facebook ads.

Are there some things that we need to think through? Yes.

Are there some workarounds that we’re going to need to get comfy with? Also yes.

So this blog post will talk about those things, but first let’s talk about what this update is all about.


What is the iOS 14 update and why will it impact your Facebook ads?

Apple announced a few months ago that the iOS 14 update would have consumer privacy safeguards in it. Namely, it’s going to affect the way that Facebook is able to receive and process conversion events from the Facebook Pixel.

The Facebook Pixel is that little piece of code that you put on your website or landing page to track number of visitors and their actions while on the page. It allows you to know how effective your Facebook ads were, as well as advertise to people who have already been on particular pages. It’s been great for advertisers!

The challenge with iOS 14 is that Apple is going to require all of the apps sold in the App Store, including the Facebook and Instagram apps, to give people the ability to opt out of being tracked in this way. And when given the option, most people will opt out.

Facebook is clearly not pleased about this, in particular because 80% of Facebook users only use the application on their phone, which is a problem for the ‘Book and its advertisers. Does this mean disaster for all your Facebook ads efforts? Not at all.


3 ways to mitigate the impact of the iOS update


  1. Look beyond the conversion.

The iOS update only impacts your ability to see results that are happening off of the Facebook or Instagram platforms…usually that means conversions. But building an ad campaign with conversions as the objective is not your only option. On platform, tracking things like engagement and video views are fantastic ways to measure the success of brand awareness. Even measuring link clicks within the ad gives you a pretty clear read on how effective the ad is at driving traffic to your landing page.


Understanding that off-platform conversions will always be an important measure, consider a “one landing page, one ad” strategy. By creating a different landing page for each ad you run (even if you’re just cloning the same page 3 dozen times), will give you a very clear picture of how your ad is performing. If the only way into a landing page is via one ad, the conversions on that page can be directly attributed to that ad.


Is this a bit more manual than using Facebook Pixel data? Absolutely. But it works.


  1. Bring conversions onto Facebook.

If your conversions take place directly on the platform, the iOS 14 update is no longer a problem for you. Maybe you set up a lead capture form right in Facebook, or have the prospect message for more information and set up a bot to get the info you need. As long as these interactions are happening on platform, they’ll all be tracked your ad campaign within Facebook Ads Manager.


The other benefit of on-platform conversions is that you can use Facebook ads to retarget those people. Right now, if you have the Pixel installed on your site, you can retarget anyone who’s visited. In a post-iOS world, that won’t be possible. But using on-site conversions (and building custom audiences based on who’s visited, viewed or interacted with any of your on-platform content), you can start replicating this retargeting experience without relying on off-platform data.


And I predict that in a few months, Facebook will be releasing new features for advertisers to build conversion events on platform so they can continue delivering value to advertisers even after iOS 14.


  1. Build your email list.

If anything, the iOS 14 impact on Facebook advertising is just another loud, clear reminder that your email list matters more than ever. Facebook, Apple, Google and LinkedIn will ALL continuing to make changes that are to their benefit. You have no control over these changes.


Bottom line: your audience on any platform is not really YOURS.


Your email list? They’re yours. You can communicate with them on your terms, because they’ve raised their hands and opted to be a part of your content ecosystem. That’s why every time a major platform makes a change like this, it underscores the need to have a robust, clean email list and an engaging email marketing program where you’re continuously nurturing the people who come in and putting your brand in front of them in meaningful and personalized ways.


And, of course, if you have an email list, you can upload it to Facebook and run ads to your custom audience. Best of all, custom audiences like often have higher conversion rates.


Long story short

Does the iOS 14 update mean you won’t be able to run ads anymore? No.

Does it mean that tracking conversions off site or off app is going to get harder? Yes.

But Facebook will find a way around it in short order. There’s a lot of money to be made in solving this problem, so look forward to some nifty in-app tracking features in the near future.

In the meantime, rethink how you’re measuring and tracking ad success, think about bringing your conversions onto the app, and make building your email list a priority.



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