Apple’s Privacy Crunch – What This Means For Facebook Advertisers

By George News, WePlay Comments Off on Apple’s Privacy Crunch – What This Means For Facebook Advertisers

WePlay Spotlight

Our brand-new series, Spotlight, sees our in-house experts take centre stage to unpack today’s digital topics with a specialist lens. This week, Senior Campaign Manager Stephanie Green, explores the latest Facebook Business Manager changes in light of iOS14 privacy updates and what this means for advertisers.

Back in the summer of 2020, Apple announced they were introducing three key new privacy regulations to their operating system update, iOS14:

  1. App Tracking Transparency (ATT) Prompt: Users on iOS14 devices will have to opt-in for permission to be tracked across third-party apps & websites
  2. A new framework that must be applied to Restrict, Aggregate, and Delay data pass back from users on iOS14 devices
  3. Data Nutrient Label: App data collection methodologies must be supplied to Apple via App Store Connect

The purpose of these changes? First, to make users aware of what, how much, and why data is being collected from them. Secondly, to give users more control over whether they actually want to give it up.

The likes of GDPR and the CPRA (California Privacy Rights Act) have certainly had a positive impact on making consumers more alert to how their personal data is collected, stored, shared and used. However, until now it has been very difficult for consumers to actually find out the relevant information when it comes to app usage. In Facebook’s instance (and probably for good reason), when you do the digging… Well, it’s a lot! (to see for yourself, check out the App Privacy details in the App Store).

Such is Facebook’s reliance on user data that as part of their privacy updates from February 8th, Whatsapp users will all HAVE to opt-in to their Whatsapp data being shared with Facebook, otherwise the messaging app will no longer be able to be used on that device. Anyway, I digress..

So, what do these changes mean for advertisers in the immediate term?

In response to Apple’s requirements, last month Facebook announced some substantial changes that will heavily impact advertisers’ ability to optimise and report within the Facebook Business Manager advertising platform. In order to comply with these regulations, yet preserve as much data as possible for advertisers and publishers, Facebook has developed and will be implementing a framework called “Aggregated Event Measurement” (AEM).

This means that app-web conversion tracking (such as clicking on an Instagram ad then purchasing an item on a brand’s website) can still be supported at some level, but with significant limitations – even for those who opt-in at the point of prompt. For app-app tracking, (i.e. advertisers wanting to drive specific app events or indeed an install), unfortunately, there is less flexibility.

When it comes to campaign setup and reporting there are four critical points to be aware of and to prepare for:


The available attribution windows in Facebook Business Manager will be reduced and restricted to 1-day view-through and 7-day click-through only. 

Early forecasts suggest that we can expect this to have an average impact on 15% of sports industry conversions, with certain brands experiencing this as high as 25% and some as low as 3% depending on the nature of the product and purchase consideration window. 

Having a strong understanding of the proportion of your conversions previously attributed within the 7-28 day window will enable simple forecasting of the results you should expect to see from now on, with these changes having already come into effect on January 19th. Historical 28-day attribution data will, however, also become inaccessible in the platform, so it’s advisable to ensure that across all accounts the data is exported and saved down for future use. 

Google (and the majority of other ad buying platforms) are yet to disclose their position. However, as far as we are aware, the use of third-party tracking solutions will continue to allow us to track performance based on a 28-day attribution window in instances where app-web conversion tracking is required. 

Additionally, although not disclosed, I’d anticipate that both the likes of Facebook and Google will be using some level of data extrapolation and probabilistic modelling to plug the gaps and account for some of the short-fall.

Event limitation to 8 events per domain

“Per domain” is the crucial point. The domain being the determining factor is a tricky one, and will have the biggest impact for brands working with multiple agencies and/or across multiple workstreams, hence needing to track multiple different KPI metrics. The 8 event limit could be 8 pixel events or 8 custom conversions, but when, for example, as a football club you are working towards merchandise sales targets across multiple different product lines, season ticket sales, match day ticket sales, app-installs, loyalty memberships, hospitality…. you get the picture – 8 doesn’t quite seem so many. 

What this means in reality is that in order to preserve as much data as possible, marketers will need to move to optimising towards standard events, losing some of the efficiency of optimising towards specific custom conversions for specific campaigns. 

Additionally, these 8 chosen events will have to be ranked in order of priority to the business, and only the event of highest priority will be passed back. So, if a purchase event is ranked position 1, and newsletter lead position 2, when a user takes both of these actions only the purchase will be recorded. Frustratingly, another data point hidden.

App Campaign Setup

For App-Install campaigns requiring app-app data pass back, these limitations will be more severe due to Apple’s SKAdNetwork API which will restrict, aggregate and delay data. It is a framework that publishers and advertisers will be forced to adopt in order to obtain any sort of in-app measurement from iOS14 devices once the changes come into effect.

In response to this, Facebook will limit Business Manager setup to 1 ad account, 9 campaigns and 5 ad-sets per campaign for each Facebook App ID where advertisers are targeting iOS 14 devices. 

Where historically media buyers may have used multiple campaigns and ad sets as a means of segregating data in order to report back on different variables such as region or targeting tactic, there will need to be a radical overhaul of strategic setup practices and optimisation processes in order to try and adapt.

Conversion data delays

Lastly, for web measurement, conversion data in the platform will be delayed by up to 48 hours. For app, the SKAdNetwork API will delay install data by 24-48 hours and additional in-app events will be delayed by 3 days post-install, meaning that “real-time” optimisations will gradually move to becoming… well, just optimisations. 

In the sports sector, where so much of our marketing is aligned to milestone calendar moments and responsive to match wins, or to the lead up to ticketing price rises or a big tournament, relying on historical data will be so important to steer planning and the leap of faith buyers will need to take in order to spend without visibility of its impact for a further two days.

In summary, all of these points result in dark patches in the data, reduced conversion volumes and a general greater uncertainty about who and how many of our audiences are actually taking our desired actions. However, it’s not only this that has resulted in Apple receiving extensive backlash from the industry, with a shared consensus that their moves are less motivated by data privacy and more by profit. Whereas third parties will need permission to track users, Apple could potentially continue to obtain user data for attribution before explicit consent has been set via an IDFA, and could therefore be using this as a strategic opportunity to improve its app download market share. 

For advertisers, it does all sound pretty bad. But, remember that everyone thought GDPR and the ePrivacy Directive cookie consent requirements would be the end of effective advertising and it wasn’t. Quantcast actually reports that 90% of users still opt in for advertising purposes via their consent management platform.*

Admittedly, the iOS14 prompt opt-out rate is forecast to be considerably greater at 90%, and with an average of 49% of our campaign objectives being driven by iPhone devices, it does have the potential to have a more significant impact. To what extent? Time will only tell.  

What these big industry changes do remind us though, is that becoming reliant on too few platforms can put your strategy at risk, and having a more holistic view of the full customer journey has never been more important. 

For the sports industry in particular, where numerous revenue streams may sit with different teams, platforms and partners, this is most pertinent. Moving forward, a consolidation and improved collaboration between these silos will be key, particularly with regards to the collation, management and nurturing of first and zero-party data – more valuable now than ever before. 

Ultimately, in the world of tech and digital, change is inevitable and, as marketers and ad tech experts, it provides us with yet another exciting opportunity to reflect, react and adapt accordingly. 

*Source: Quantcast

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