IOS 14 Tracking Limitations – How to Prepare Website Tracking for the Upcoming Changes (Part II)

Published: 5 February 2021

Updated: 29 January 2024

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Eugene is an analytics expert @Viden, specializing in Google Analytics (360), Google Tag Manager (360), Data Studio and more, with years of experience in analytics strategy, identifying new trends, challenges, and opportunities for brands across digital.
IOS 14 Tracking Limitations – How to Prepare Website Tracking for the Upcoming Changes (Part II)

As the advertising industry knows, Apple has recently announced the upcoming changes towards data tracking on Apple devices. Supposedly, this will negatively affect the whole digital advertising framework on iPhones. In case you’re not familiar with the details, we recommend that you check out our first article with the announcement’s details.
The changes will have a dramatic impact on apps advertising, since:
1. Apps will need to inform users exactly what data they are using. This could be unfavorably received by users considering current fears of worldwide surveillance (especially by global corporations like Facebook, Google, Amazon, etc.)
2. Apps will need to ask permission to track users. In case a user declines tracking, Apple will nullify the IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers), which is an identifier assigned by Apple to a device. Advertisers use this to track data so they can deliver customized advertising.
Unfortunately, not only applications are in trouble now.
Apple has introduced PCM (Private Click Measurement) as a part of its AppTrackingTransparency framework. The concept of PCM is pretty straightforward: the amount of data the marketing vendor’s pixels can track and bring back to the platform will be limited. The purpose of this is to disallow advertisers (actually advertising platforms, as they have the resources to do that) to conduct cross-site tracking, while at the same time, making it possible to run ad click attribution.
Responding to the changes initiated by Apple (protecting their own advertising business and the millions of small businesses), Facebook is introducing its Aggregated Event Measurement framework (AEM), which is basically a new attribution system that also restricts, aggregates, and delays data while still supporting critical advertiser use cases.
Let’s take a closer look at the changes advertisers will face with the introduction of AEM.
Advertising tool set up:
· Advertisers will be limited to using eight conversion events per domain for optimization, including both standard events and custom conversions.
· Facebook will likely preserve partial reporting in Ads Manager and Events Manager for additional events outside of the prioritized eight events. In addition, it will be possible to use events outside of the prioritized eight events to create website custom audiences.
· The eight conversion events per domain will be ranked based on campaign spend within the last 28 days. If multiple events are completed by a user (i.e., “add to cart” and “purchase”), only the higher prioritized event will be reported unless all the events are manually specified by an ads manager:
· When using Value Optimization, each purchase event will count as a minimum of four events toward the eight event optimization limit. When an event is changed, it will trigger a 72-hour cool-down period before campaigns can deliver using changed events.

Targeting and delivery:
· Default attribution windows are moving from 7-day click-through and 1-day view-through to 7-day click-through only for all conversions and catalog sales objective campaigns. Advertisers should expect delivery to be less efficient compared to historical performance.
· A decrease in Website Custom Audience sizes is expected due to the loss of some events from iOS 14 users (from those who rejected the tracking).
· Advertisers using Dynamic Ads for retargeting may see a decrease in performance and audience size due to the loss of some events from iOS 14 users.

Measurement and reporting:
· Website conversion events will be reported based on the time the conversions occur and not the time of ad impressions. Additionally, there may be a 24 to 48-hour delay when an offsite conversion is reported from iOS users.
· Facebook will no longer be able to support 28-day click-through, 28-day view-through, and 7-day view-through attribution windows.
· Delivery and action breakdowns will not be supported for offsite conversion events. This includes demographic breakdowns such as age, gender, and region.

The Practical Steps Viden Recommends Website Advertisers Can Take to Prepare for the Upcoming Changes as per Facebook’s Newest Guidelines

Action 1: Domain Verification in Facebook Business Manager
If a domain has pixel events owned by multiple Business Managers or ad accounts, one Business Manager must verify the domain in order to edit the event configuration. According to Facebook, this action will secure no potential conflicts between Business Managers or ad accounts as to ownership of the domain’s conversion event configuration. However, we recommend all advertisers verify their domain (domains):

Check Now: Video Guide on How to Verify the Domain within Facebook Business Manager

Action 2: Prepare to operate and define the priority of a maximum of eight conversion events per domain
Businesses that use more than eight conversion events per domain for reporting and advertising optimization should review their current (initial) setup and create an action plan for how to operate with eight conversion events per domain for optimization. We recommend identifying the eight events that are most important to critical business outcomes.
Once the new setup of eight events is defined, all of them should be determined in the corresponding setting based on their priorities.
Advertisers will not need to make changes to their pixel, as this event selection will be done in Events Manager.

Check Now: How to Set Up the Event Aggregated Measurement Framework in the Business Manager Interface

Action 3: Install Facebook Conversion API for Browser Facebook Tracking
Released in 2020, Facebook Conversion API (CAPI) was created to replicate the whole functionality of the Facebook Pixel as far as tracking and measurement go, except it is based on being on a server, instead of relying on users’ browsers. We recommend implementing it while preserving browser pixel tracking to improve the quality of the data collected and ad performance overall. Facebook now states that the ROI of implementing CAPI is a 150% improvement in comparison to campaigns that only convert for traffic (clicks).
Note: When implementing for our clients, we saw the improvement of 120-135% in conversion (and value) attribution on average.

Action 4: Anticipate changes to attribution windows and update automated rules, if necessary.
Update automated rules using a 28-day attribution window to prevent any unexpected adjustments in spending once the new 7-day click-through window default goes into effect.

Action 5: Prepare for a further reporting loss inside the Facebook business manager.
Currently, the delay in the reporting of conversion is not live. However, once Apple starts to enforce applications to receive user consent towards data tracking on their devices/browsers, all advertisers will see a significant drop-off (which is better named a “delay”) in the performance from iOS devices. Be prepared and do not panic, it doesn’t mean that you lose your sales – it just means that you will not be able to see it in the Facebook business manager right away.

Action 6: Come up with new campaign optimization strategies that may require testing, such as alternative audience options or different bidding strategies.
Taking into consideration the whole conversion attribution framework update, we recommend that you review your current strategies and tactics, creative approach, target audience, and marketing communication. No one knows how IOS 14 will impact the performance of Facebook Ads and your particular approach. It looks like the power of Facebook algorithms’ detailed targeting strategies will be limited (the main question is, to what extent?). However, it does make sense to try more generic strategies and marketing communication after the changes to compare with the previously used approach.
We also recommend all businesses start working on the unique offer of their products or/and services and UX of their websites, as the cost of traffic in Facebook is becoming more expensive due to the increased competition after the world economy switched to being online due to the global pandemic.

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