Facebook vs. Apple - Advertisers here's what you need to doNordic Morning logo

Facebook vs. Apple - Advertisers here's what you need to do

Author: Nick Burcher

27/04/21

It’s complicated.

In the early days of Facebook this phrase was regularly used by people to describe their relationship status on Facebook.

Today this phrase is more likely to be seen in the context of the relationship between Apple and Facebook (and Facebook and Google) as there are a lot of things changing around privacy, targeting and optimization.

Apple have confirmed that iOS 14.5 is now live and advertisers need to take action now to avoid having Facebook campaigns automatically stopped or unable to run in the future.

What is changing and why is it happening?

For the last decade the internet advertising ecosystem has been based on two fundamental ideas. Search ads delivered against ‘What I want’, whilst programmatic and paid social (generally) delivered against ‘Who I am.’ Both Google and Facebook have made extraordinary profits from advertising systems that have been able to harness audience data and intent to efficiently serve these needs, but now things are changing.

We have already seen how legislation like GDPR and the EU Privacy directive have pushed advertisers to re-think use of data and the roll out of Apple’s latest operating system update, iOS 14.5, will change things again.

The Financial Times stated in this article that;

Apple’s forthcoming software update, iOS 14.5, will ban apps and advertisers from collecting data about iPhone users without their explicit consent. Most users are expected to decline to be tracked, dealing a huge blow to how the mobile advertising industry works.

These changes mean that users of Facebook and other apps will have to agree to be tracked, whereas at the moment everyone is tracked by default unless they opt out. As users adopt the new iOS it will be harder for digital advertisers to optimize and measure, so we can expect to see programmatic/ display ad performance decline, whilst advertising performance on Facebook could be significantly affected.

Facebook have already made changes to prepare for this and have made a statement in this article about Facebook Pixel (measurement mechanism):

These changes will affect how Facebook receives and processes conversion events from tools such as the Facebook pixel. Once Apple requires the prompt and it is shown on Facebook, advertisers running campaigns to iOS 14.5 and later users will be affected by limitations on data sharing.

Facebook Privacy Notifiction

So what should advertisers do now?

There are a number of apects which must be addressed based around the data and/or tech set up, how ads are optimized and how conversions and events are measured.

Three of the most important areas needing attention from you are as follows:

1. Domain verification should be completed

Domains need to be verified, especially if domains integrate pixels that are owned by multiple businesses or personal ad accounts.

So if you had one main website and had everything else underneath it, you now need to make sure it is set up properly with each individual country or business verified. Multi-national or regional businesses that use subdomains, for example 'se.mywebsite.com' or 'fi.website.com', can verify these sub-domains and set up their top eight conversion events on each one.

This will not apply to URL paths like 'mywebsite.com/sweden' or 'mywebsite.com/finland' though, a set up like this will now only allow an advertiser to have 8 events in total to share across everything unless it set them up properly as verified sub-domains or move to a different type of global setup. In addition, advertisers won't be able to track events across multiple domains if the user has opted out, so ads will now need to select a single domain when they are created.

This is a complicated area and in some cases may require significant reconfiguration in order to allow campaigns to continue and optimization and reporting to function effectively. (For a global international organization with one domain it is crucial that a central organization decides on the prioritization of the 8 events. One market cannot have different prioritization than another.)

2. Eight conversion events per domain

Advanced paid social advertisers have a detailed Facebook Pixel set up that tracks a wide range of actions. This allows Facebook ads to be optimized to precise audiences and ‘events.’ The really advanced set ups will integrate and mirror this approach in their programmatic advertising too.

Going forward, advertisers can only configure and use eight unique conversion events per verified website domain for campaign optimization. For future campaigns Facebook will automatically select objectives and the 8 conversion events (unless manually changed) and existing ad sets that are optimizing for a conversion event that is no longer supported will be automatically paused.

It is important for ad managers to manually check campaigns and remember that campaigns will stop running if the conversion events are not updated in the Facebook Event Manager.

3. Set up Facebook’s Aggregated Event Measurement to measure across eight events

Attribution windows of 28 day click through, 28 day view through and 7 day view through will no longer be supported. Facebook's Aggregated Event Measurement can be used for iOS 14 and onwards, but this is limited to the domain’s eight conversion events. (Note: These eight conversion events can come from one Facebook pixel or multiple pixels.)

The 8 conversion events per domain will also be ranked based on priority so if multiple events are completed by a user (i.e. “add to cart” and “purchase”) only the higher prioritized event will be reported. See Facebook's article on this here.

Advertisers need to ensure that they are set up to use the new Aggregated Event Measurement and need to use caution when comparing results to results achieved before the changes.

*So it's fair to say that there are a lot of things changing at the moment and some of the largest changes are with Facebook advertising. *

Sweden and the Nordic region have both very high iPhone usage and very high Facebook usage, so it’s important to implement changes quickly and manage this properly.

In the short term it may be that paid social and programmatic look less competitive than before and it may be that budgets have to be moved around to test different options and different ways of working.

Premium environments could become more attractive and there are a range of interesting contextual advertising technologies that are helpful (a number of these contextual companies are Nordic based startups which we proudly work with at Nordic Morning!)

So, it’s not the end of paid social or programmatic, but iOS 14.5 and the latest Facebook changes will for sure disrupt the paid ecosystem, especially for upper funnel activity and audience targeting/ re-targeting.

To avoid problems, it’s important for advertisers to have a view of the whole system of 'Paid', 'Owned', 'Earned', it’s important for advertisers to have the data and tech optimized and most of all it’s more important than ever for advertisers to keep checking the performance and the numbers!

Good luck out there!