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What to Expect After the iOS 14 Update

Jukka Mäenpää Feb 19 2021 2 PM | 9 min read

As a part of Apple’s iOS 14 enhancements, the Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) value will also see some changes, which Facebook will address starting January 19th, 2021. 

The new  privacy measure, Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework, will require iOS apps to prompt users to opt-in to tracking in and across apps using IDFA. How will your Facebook advertising strategies change as Apple rolls out the App Tracking Transparency framework?

Recap of What Has Changed

Below is a summary of the changes that will happen in Facebook’s advertising functionalities. We’ll dive deeper into these changes and their effects throughout this blog post:

  • App Install campaigns
  • Pixel events
  • Changes in attribution
  • Delivery and action breakdown deprecations
  • Value Optimization changes

Shifting Strategies

The changes that Facebook has introduced in response to Apple’s new requirements are significant. As previous approaches and campaign structures might become obsolete, unavailable or unprofitable as functionality is limited or removed, brands delivering ads on Facebook’s placements and networks will likely find themselves in need of a new strategy.

While our teams at Smartly.io are busy drafting the best practices moving forward, let’s take a closer look at what is changing, what the effects are, and how to respond to those changes.

Promoting Your App

App marketers should note that most iOS app install campaigns might require restructuring. An app can be associated with one ad account only and there is a limit of nine campaigns per app. Perhaps we’ll see an uptick in adoption of Cross-Border Dynamic Ads, asset customization strategies, and Automated App Ads as marketing teams need to consolidate their structure. 

With the upcoming changes, results will be attributed to the campaign level, potentially impacting strategies - depending on how Facebook models the ad level results and the conversion delay. Brands might need to reconsider the type of creatives they have in their mix. Now is the perfect time to look into creative insights as much as possible, even with modeled results. 

A consistent and smooth experience between ads, the app install and the app use is core to any app business. Increased testing with actual ads and fine tuning the ad-to-app experience will likely be top of mind for iOS App developers and advertisers as App Install campaigns will not support deferred deep linking.

As iOS app conversions are reported through the SKAdNetwork, marketers can expect delays in data and changes in reporting. Marketers might want to consider what the impact is and estimate if their audiences are looped in an out of targeting properly.

Performance Marketing and Lower-Funnel Conversion Campaigns

Performance marketers that rely on tight margins and high signal volume will likely see a need to shift strategies on their lower-funnel conversion campaigns. Due to an increase in iOS 14 users who opt out of tracking, marketers should expect a certain amount of signal loss, potentially leading to weakened delivery optimization and potentially higher CPAs. 

Conversions that happen outside of Facebook will be attributed to the day of the conversion, as opposed to the day the converting user viewed or clicked on the ad. Conversions from iOS 14 users will be reported with a 24–48 hour delay. As these changes will make determining true CPAs more challenging, marketers can start preparing by evaluating how strict their performance goals are, what is the correlation to internal business data, and discussing future measurement windows.

Marketers will likely want to shift focus from day-to-day conversion counts and CPAs to monitoring performance changes over longer time-ranges.

At Smartly.io, we are closely monitoring the changes in auction dynamics and prices and how that affects bidding strategies.

Rethink Retargeting

Retargeting is a powerful mechanism for reaching users at a specific point in their shopping journey. However, some retargeting strategies are highly dependent on the users’ intent signals and events that have occurred before the user sees an ad. If marketers tweak their retargeting strategies to better fit a wider audience, a good practice would be to always review the impact of personalized copy and/or creative elements. 

For many marketers, retargeting is the best performing strategy. However, with the recent event reporting changes for iOS users, retargeted audience sizes might decrease. If, for example, performance falls below par and budget is reallocated to other strategies, compelling and effective creatives might become instrumental in supporting the traffic re-marketing was previously driving.

Performance marketers should consider if retargeting event windows need to be adjusted for conversions with a delay from iOS apps. Marketers should determine if getting targeted with an ad even after taking action can be of annoyance and if they should adjust how they exclude these users from their targeting. Also, if not all iOS web events are received, what events should be considered in retargeting actions?

Time to Think About the Full Funnel

One effect we might see in the ecosystem is marketers adapting more of a full funnel strategy. If marketers start noticing that their performance marketing efforts aren’t reaching their goals, they might redistribute parts of their budgets to upper funnel audiences. 

With less data available, there are also fewer strong intent signals. Will it be efficient for marketers to micro target users with specific product needs or a destination and booking windows in mind? Marketers need to make the most of the data available - perhaps personalizing creatives for hyperlocal targeting or specific interests will show its power.

An interesting technical challenge to tackle is configuring upper and mid-funnel campaigns efficiently. For users who opt out of tracking through ATT, only the highest priority events will be reported. Assuming Purchase is the highest priority event, will campaigns optimizing for lower priority events have as many data points to build on?

On the reporting side, breakdowns such as age, gender, region, and placement are no longer available. Since it's more difficult to determine which breakdowns are working, some advertisers will proactively diversify the investments into multiple demographics by adding creative variety. For marketers who have been slowly narrowing their focus on audience segments that perform marginally better, the change to advertise broader might unlock new audiences and bring a refreshing change. 

Sharing Resources in a Diverse Business

As Apple’s ATT framework rolls out, Facebook will begin applying Aggregated Event Measurement (AEM) to iOS web events. AEM means that businesses will be limited to eight pixel events per domain. Domains are separated at top level plus one, so third-level subdomains like us.example.com, mx.example.com, app.example.com or sub pages like example.com/us/ and example.com/mx/ will share pixel events configured for example.com. 

Businesses that have multiple sub-websites or international pages should consolidate their events used under a single domain, or change to using separate domains (example.com, example.us, example.com.mx). If pixel consolidation is not a straightforward task, restructuring business websites can be an annoyance at best and destructive at worst. 

For businesses with a diverse offering or multiple business models, sharing pixel events and selecting eight priority events can have an important impact on targeting and tracking. For example, a marketplace that caters to both buyers and sellers might need eight completely different events for each business operation. Buyers will need to be reached and measured on viewing items and purchasing, while sellers will be measured by listing items and sales. Hopefully, you don’t need to optimize for both conversions and revenue!

As mentioned, there will be considerations for iOS app install campaign structures; diverse business operations might need to coordinate across strategies, operations, and countries to fit within the limits.

Addressing Signal Loss

As some iOS users will opt out of tracking on either the Facebook app or third-party apps like the advertiser’s app, there will be reduced signals throughout the conversion funnel. It's good to keep in mind that advertisers have access to eight “off-site” conversion events outside of Facebook regardless of systems. And secondly, if an iOS user has opted out of tracking, only the highest priority event will be reported. 

Offline conversion uploads, the Conversion API and custom server-to-server (S2S) event transmitting might all play a more important role for marketers. Teams looking to use these strategies to supplement their signal strength need to fully understand what the considerations are for using identifying data collected from iOS 14 devices.

Marketers who see significant signal loss should likely prioritize to figure out ways to supplement their signal volume and increase signal fidelity.

Measuring Late Conversions

One of the changes to attribution is the deprecation of the 28 day window for click attribution. Some marketers rely on “late conversions” that come in long after an ad click has been registered. Often these conversions might be of an event further down in a user’s lifecycle, like something that happens after sign-up. 

Marketers will likely need to rely on proxy metrics that happen within an available attribution timeframe, and that highly correlate with the events that happen later. Having the ability to, for example, apply a coefficient on a proxy metric to report on a correlating later metric might end up being valuable. 

For affected marketers, adjusting their measurement to keep up their understanding of true business goals might become a high priority - especially, if they are dependent on late conversions. Customer methods of registering and attributing late events to ads with a server-to-server solution might be of use for some marketers.

How to Keep Attracting Audiences

In response to iOS 14 users opting out of tracking devices, the size of custom audiences based on app connections, app activity, and website activity will decrease. Similarly retargeting audiences could decrease as well. Depending on how much audience sizes decrease, marketing teams may see delivery or performance decreases in their campaigns. Marketers should, however, not move away from impacted custom audiences completely, as they still serve a purpose in targeting users with distinct instinct or at a stage in the conversion path. 

We might see some marketing teams shift to broader targeting choices, or increase their use of “native” targeting like “interests”, “location”, and “demographic information”. Creative personalization and variety will continue to play a crucial role in attracting, impressing, and converting users. Loss of delivery breakdowns like age, gender, region, and placement makes it harder to fully understand how creative is resonating with specific segments.

If you have any questions about the iOS 14 update, don’t hesitate to get in touch! Our team is happy to help you preparing for the change!

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Author
Jukka Mäenpää
Product Marketing Manager

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