Apple is positioning itself as an advocate for user privacy and putting the user first. Apple’s latest privacy updates include App Tracking Transparency (ATT) and features to cloak IP addresses and block email tracking pixels. So, how is Facebook, a company that depends on tracking for its ad business, navigating the new changes for its iOS users?
How iOS Privacy Updates Impact Facebook
Facebook is the second largest digital advertiser in the United States, after Google. As such, Apple’s privacy updates will impact how Facebook’s ads are targeted, measured, and optimized.
Facebook is beginning to roll out some changes to tackle the situation, such as:
- Aggregated Event Measurement: shows a limited number of events as opposed to every activity on a webpage to maintain user privacy
- Conversion API: a tool that tracks user activities when no identifier is available
- Attribution Windows: shortening the window of time allowed to determine attribution in order to protect a user’s privacy, although this could impact high latency purchases
- Ad Targeting Options: changes could limit the reach and frequency of ad campaigns and decrease the performance of ads where identifiers are used to judge success, contributing to a rise in smart bidding approaches for better results
- Modeled Data: there will be more dependence on modeled data, similar to Apple’s IDFA, which uses modeled data to share related, aggregated insights back to ad owners, including Facebook
Facebook’s Conversion API
Conversions API is a Facebook Business tool that lets marketers share key web and offline events, or customer actions, directly between a marketer’s server and Facebook’s. The data exchange is from server to server, rather than how third-party cookies transferred data from a browser directly to Facebook.
Businesses can use Conversions API in addition to pixels. Pixels send all events in real-time, but the benefit of using an API-based solution is more control in terms of what and when data is shared. Big tech companies like Google, Facebook, and Apple are turning more to API-based solutions in the cookieless world because of the better control in data sharing.
Within Facebook’s ecosystem, when a user clicks on an ad and lands on a website or online store, Facebook sends a unique ID of that user to the server. From there, the server retains that unique ID to track all activities done by the user. When the user is finished and clicks away from the website, the server sends a report of all actions taken. There is no way to track the individual user from the unique ID. Pixels are used in addition to API to minimize the chance of missing out on valuable information. All major e-commerce platforms that have already implemented Facebook integrations or developed their own setup procedure are using Facebook’s Conversion API workflow.
What iOS User Behavior Trends Across Facebook Are Telling Us
NetElixir dived into preliminary data to determine how Apple’s iOS privacy updates are impacting the advertising landscape within Facebook. So far, we see:
- While all types of audiences are impacted by the ATT update, prospecting audiences are more severely affected. Facebook may need to revisit how audiences are built to address this concern.
- E-Commerce categories like apparel, beauty and personal care, home furnishings, and pet supplies saw an improvement in reach.
- CPC and cost per acquisition are becoming more expensive.
Google recently announced that it is extending the timeline of when third-party cookies will be phased out, pushing the deadline back from early 2022 to mid-2023. Facebook has been experiencing some challenges since Apple’s iOS 14.5 update, especially with targeted retargeting, and Google has presumably been carefully monitoring these challenges. Google may have extrapolated Facebook’s challenges to the ones that it may face in the cookieless world and decided to allow more time to figure out the best solutions.
Regardless of the reasoning behind the decision, developers now have more time to create and test solutions to help businesses navigate continued privacy updates and the cookieless world. NetElixir is here to weather the storm of privacy changes with you and help you prepare earlier rather than later. Contact a NetElixir expert to ensure your e-commerce business is prepared for the privacy-first era.