Steep Digital Marketing Blog

What Financial Advisors Need to Know about Apple i OS14 and Facebook Ads

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It seems that about once per year the marketing community is sent into panic with the announcement of a new app feature or ad change. 2021 is no different, but instead of Facebook changing things, this time it’s Apple – the company that makes more mobile devices than anyone else on the planet.

The tendency of the marketing world is to overreact when changes like this are announced, so the purpose of this article is to give it to you straight and help you understand what (if any) impact this may have on marketing campaigns you’re running on Facebook.

 

So what is actually changing?

You’re not a developer, so talks of software updates can be about as much fun as hearing your brother-in-law recount his high school football fame for the bazillionth time. In simple terms, Apple is making changes that require any app that engages in “tracking” to prompt people with a notification about the tracking and provide an option to opt out of tracking.

I’m sure you’ve been on a site that has a pop-up on the screen that asks “Learn how this site uses cookies to improve your experience” or something similar. Usually there’s an option that says “allow” or “don’t allow.”

This is very similar to what will be changing with iOS 14. The difference is that because this is happening at the app level (Facebook in this case) those changes are applied to any website that is accessed through that site. This means that when someone opts out of sharing data on Facebook, all advertisers that user interacts with on Facebook will be limited by the sharing data options that user has selected.

While the update has other changes, most of them are technical in nature and won’t have a direct impact on advisors directly. The core change in iOS 14 is the data opt-out.

 

Will this impact my Facebook marketing campaigns?
You know that part of a Dr’s office visit where they’re done droning on and on about medical terminology and it gets quiet before you ask, “What does it mean for me doc?”… That’s where we are now.

In simple terms – yes, iOS will have an impact on Facebook campaigns, but not in the way you may assume. Here are 2.5 effects that you need to know about.

The iOS 14 update will reduce the reported results from marketing campaigns.

If you’ve ever had the esteemed privilege of looking at the Facebook Ad dashboard, you probably saw a column labeled “Results.” This column reports how many people took the action that you want them to take on a campaign. If you’re running ads with the goal of getting people to click to your site, the results column will show how many clicks your campaign has generated – if you’re running a campaign with the goal of getting people to sign up for a webinar, the results column shows how many webinar registrations your campaign has generated.

Now that Apple users have the ability to opt-out of ad tracking, the data we see in the results column may be lower than the actual number of results the campaign has generated. This doesn’t necessarily mean that your true results will be lower as people who opt out of ad tracking can still interact and respond to your ads – it simply means that campaign results from opted-out users won’t show up on reporting.

The iOS 14 update will reduce the size of some Facebook audiences.

Facebook allows advertiser the ability to create audiences in several ways that rely on tracking. For instance, if you visit a home shopping site like Zillow, you may get added into an interest group for potential home buyers. Or if you visit the Steep website, we’ll add you to a custom audience of recent site visitors (yeah, we’re stalking you – but not in a creepy way). Once added to an audience, advertisers can send highly relevant ads to these users based on their past behavior.

Apple users who opt out of tracking may prevent advertisers from collecting their information and as a result may not be added into these audiences. This may affect you if you’re running retargeting ads to site visitors or if you have niche campaigns targeting people in specific interest categories.

The iOS update will have a couple of other impacts that you probably won’t even realize.

These include Attribution Window Settings (how far back in time a conversion is attributed to an ad), Event Set-Up Flows (not events like seminars – events like types of conversions you measure), Sequence of Events (change to the hierarchy of conversions advertisers can optimize for) and a few others. If you don’t know what any of this means, it won’t impact you at all.

Over the next few weeks and months, you’ll get emails from Facebook, other digital marketing companies and even mail houses claiming that the sky is falling and the death of Facebook ads. These emails, calls and webinars are fantastic at evoking fear and driving clicks, but that’s about all they’re good for. If you take one thing away from this article, remember this: The changes to Facebook as a result of iOS 14 are primarily technical in nature and likely will have little to no impact on your digital marketing campaigns. Don’t buy the hype.

As a Facebook Marketing Partner, Steep is among the top 2% of advertisers. This allows us to get direct access to an ad support team full of analytic geniuses and ad management wizards. Because of our status as a Marketing Partner, we’ve been given early access to ad tools that allowed us to prepare for these changes months in advance. As a result, all of our ad accounts have been updated and optimized for the rollout, and we have made all recommended changes to ensure we can continue to be excellent stewards of your marketing investments and your trust. Rest assured that we’re on top of these changes, and we’re anticipating continued excellence in our advisor marketing campaigns.

 

Still have questions? 

Check out the answers to some of the specific questions we’re getting. Don’t see the answer to your question? Shoot us an email and we’ll add it to the list!

  • Will people who opt out of data tracking still be able to see and respond to my ads?
    • Yes! The iOS 14 changes won’t affect who sees your ads – it will only change whether we can track and report on their actions. When someone signs up for a Steep event, we share all their information with you through an event roster, and the information will always appear there even if Facebook doesn’t measure the conversion in the Ads Manager.
  • How many people will opt out of tracking on iO14?
    • It’s really impossible to know what the percentage of opt-outs will be, and to an extent we’ll have to wait and see. At this point we’re seeing only about 2-3 conversions per campaign that are not registering in our ad accounts. As users continue to update to iOS 14, we’ll get a better idea of this over time.
  • Will there be long term affects to Facebook ads because of the update?
    • There may be some long-term impacts to Facebook advertising as a result of the update. If we were to see 50% or more of our target users opt-out of tracking, our reporting quality would decline which could make it harder to determine which ads and images are performing best. If there is an impact like this, it will be realized as a slight efficiency reduction, but not a significant change to the viability of the platform.
  • What is Facebook doing to react to the iOS 14 changes?
    • Facebook has been very pro-active about helping their advertisers prepare for these changes. This includes updating settings in their account, educating advertisers and even lobbying against the Apple changes. There’s a clear divide in the ad world between Apple and Facebook in terms of user privacy, and Facebook has been outspoken in their opposition to these changes. Although nothing has been announced, Facebook (and many other popular Apple aps) is actively working to change how their tracking software works to subvert Apple’s updates.
  • What should I do in my ad account if I’m running my own campaigns?
    • First, you should talk to us. We’re really good at driving results with Facebook ads, and we could probably help you a lot. But if you are running supplement ads through your own ad account, you will see several notices in the header of your ad account. These notifications will take you to an ad resource center with instructions on what changes you may consider making within your account. Follow these instructions carefully, and you’ll be good to go.

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