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iOS 14.5: The Impact on Facebook Advertising

A phone showing the Facebook logo.

If you advertise on Facebook, you’ve probably heard about the iOS 14.5 update and the apparent havoc it’s wreaked.

In the latest move towards championing user privacy and first-party data, Apple introduced the iOS 14.5 update to limit third-party data and tracking.

We’ve put together the ultimate guide to the iOS 14.5 update and its impact on Facebook advertisers.

Keep up to date with the latest industry news and trends by following us on Twitter.

 

 

What is the iOS 14.5 update?

 

In April 2021, Apple released a software update that requires Apps in the App Store, like Facebook, to show a prompt to users in accordance with their ‘App Tracking Transparency’ framework.

The prompt asks users if they would like to allow third-party cookies or ask the App not to track.

iOS 14.5 notification on an iPhone. Allow Facebook to track your activity across other companies' apps and websites.

If users opt-out of third-party cookies, certain data collection and sharing is prohibited.

 

 

What are third-party cookies?

 

Cookies are text files that hold small pieces of data about a user and their interactions on a site.

First-party cookies are ones created by the website you’re currently on, usually for their own digital purposes, like analytical reporting or saving your preferences such as a password.  Website cookie policies often refer to strictly necessary cookies, functionality cookies or performance cookies, and these are usually first-party cookies.

Importantly, first-party cookies can’t track your behaviour across different sites they visit.

Third-party cookies are created by other websites and these can track your activity across different sites. For advertisers, these third-party cookies are extremely useful. For instance, they allow the creation of retargeting lists of past visitors or people with similar interests. These are often referred to as targeting, tracking or advertising cookies.

The industry is increasingly moving towards first-party-only cookies, in an attempt to prioritise user privacy.

In January 2020, Google announced that it would scrap third-party cookies by late 2023. The technology giant followed the lead of other web browsers including Firefox and Apple’s Safari.

 

 

How has the iOS 14.5 update impacted advertisers on Facebook?

 

If a user asks Facebook not to track them, their data cannot be shared or collected by third parties.

This means that there’s less data being sent to Facebook pixels, which is the code used to record conversions and optimise campaigns for specific actions.

With less data gathered, Facebook’s algorithms will be less efficient and effective, and campaign results could suffer.

Remarketing pools will also be smaller, lookalike audiences less reliable and reporting capabilities limited

 

 

How much data is actually being lost?

 

It’s difficult to say exactly; Facebook/Meta hasn’t published official figures on opt-in rates, and it will likely vary from advertiser to advertiser, depending on the region and audience demographic for example.

To clarify, data is only ‘lost’ for users who are using the Facebook or Instagram App on an Apple mobile device with iOS 14.5 or later installed and have opted out of tracking.

To give a ballpark of how much of your audience this equates in reality; around half the users on Facebook and Instagram use Apple mobile devices, and around 40% (and rising) of these are on iOS14+.

Then there is the question of how many users actually opt-in to the tracking. Initial estimations showed that only 2% of these users opted into tracking. However, more recent estimations have put this figure higher, at around 15 or 25%.

So in essence, not all user data is being lost, but potentially enough to make a noticeable and lasting impact on your results.

 

 

What has Facebook done to ease the impact of the iOS 14.5 update?

 

Facebook has tried to ease the impact of Apple’s iOS 14.5 update by implementing a protocol that allows for the measurement of web events in iOS 14+ devices.

This is called ‘Aggregated Event Measurement’. However, only up to 8 conversion events can be prioritised for conversion optimisation per domain.

To set up event configurations and use your conversion events for ad optimisation, you must verify your domain – another setup process within the Facebook Ads interface.

 

 

 

Summary

 

It’s clear that Apple want to be seen as the industry leaders on increased privacy and putting users, rather than platforms such as Facebook, first.

It’s likely that this is just one update that advertisers will have to navigate in the journey towards increased user privacy and scrapping of third-party cookies.

We can’t foresee any major moves away from advertisers using Facebook ads – as long as Facebook continues to be a widely-used social media platform, there will be the opportunity to effectively target relevant audiences.

In the follow up blog we will delve deeper into how advertisers can respond, watch this space and subscribe to our email news to get the next article sent directly to your inbox.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the iOS 14.5 update and the industry trend towards prioritising first-party data. Send us a message through our contact page or email us at [email protected]. We’d love to hear from you!

 

 

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