3 Things We Learned Running Facebook Ads After iOS 14.5

Written by
Dan Wild
Head of Paid Marketing
Wednesday, May 29, 2024
Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Digital advertisers everywhere remember where they were when the news first hit. ‘Apple’s bringing out an update that could KILL FacebookAds’ was the cry that went up from online marketing gurus everywhere late last year, as a far-off menace known only as ‘iOS 14.5’ began to stir.

Reactions ranged from nonchalance to Y2K levels of panic.Warnings were sent to clients – we sent out our FIRST EVER Urgent ClientCommunication – domains were hurriedly verified, and blogs were written, as the digital world waited for April 6th, the day when Facebook’s nightmare was to begin…

…And then it happened. According to some reports, up to 46%of Apple users have opted out of tracking. Facebook’s Aggregated EventMeasurement limits event tracking to 1 event per session, and custom audiences based on website actions have lost a chunk of potentially higher-than-average income users.

While it’s too early to really judge how this has impacted clients’ bottom lines, we’ve learned a few key lessons from working through iOS14.5.


1 – It was a little bit like Y2K

This isn’t me being dramatic. The millennium bug gets misremembered as a big overblown hoax that had the whole world in a panic for nothing. While the 1st January 2000 didn’t lead to planes falling out of the sky and banks deleting all their money, this was the result of hard work and diligence on the part of well-prepared tech teams across the globe. Similarly, the fact that iOS 14.5 hasn’t led to the ads disaster that many predicted has been primarily down to preparedness from ads teams and developers.

The transition to Aggregated Events was fairly smooth for us, but I would hate to have been part of an ad team that hadn’t been making sure their clients’ domains were verified months in advance! Any damage limitation has been the result of adaptiveness and inventiveness from the industry as a whole. The fluid nature of the digital landscape means that digital advertising is constantly adapting, and this need to adapt has been essential to coping with iOS.


2 – Custom audiences can still be your friend

iOS 14.5 has led to the reduced effectiveness of industry favourites such as purchaser lookalikes and custom audiences based on on-site actions. Though people who have opted out of tracking may still be interacting with your site, the fact that Facebook is no longer tracking this means that any lookalike or custom audience created using the Facebook Pixel is missing a chunk of valuable data.

The solution here has been to find different ways of curating these complete audiences. The route that Facebook marketing experts have been advising is to create your custom audiences from on-page actions such as video viewers, page engagers, and instant experience interactions. The reduced effectiveness of Pixel-based audiences has also led to an increased need for marketers to curate their own audiences from other sources such asGoogle Analytics. The fact is – while Facebook can no longer track these users, they are still out there. It just takes a bit more creativity to find them!


3 – It’s not been as bad (or good) as people predicted.

No one would argue that the changes forced by iOS 14.5haven’t made Facebook marketing harder. It’s too early to tell what the final impact on results will be, especially as other platforms - including Facebook itself– may follow suit with their own privacy directives. It’s likely that data laws will become tighter, and tech platforms will have to adapt. It’s also difficult to argue that this is a bad thing for the public in general.

However, this change hasn’t spelled the end of Facebook ads for small businesses. Marketers and businesses have been able to adapt and, through hard work, keep things running more or less smoothly. If there’s one constant in the stormy landscape of digital marketing, it’s that any challenge can be overcome through adaptiveness and creativity. I can’t see that changing any time soon.

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