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The Apple iOS 14 update and the impact on Facebook advertising

With the newly launched operating system iOS 14 for iphone and ipad, Apple will be asking users for consent to track their personal use of the Facebook app through the ATT framework (App Tracking Transparency).

These changes will affect the way advertisers optimise and target campaigns based on conversion events (such as retargeting campaigns) and advertise mobile apps. In addition, this will result in limitations on ads personalisation and performance reporting for both app and web conversion events.

Why has Apple released this new update?

Privacy is one of Apple’s core values. As its’ manifesto explains, “Privacy is a fundamental human right... Your devices are important to so many parts of your life. What you share from those experiences, and who you share it with, should be up to you. We design Apple products to protect your privacy and give you control over your information…”

So, from the Apple’s point of view, the new update would provide more transparency and user control because it will restrict third parties from tracking user information across apps and websites.

How has Facebook reacted to this new update?

Facebook is trying to leverage awareness on this topic and convince users to accept their data-tracking requirements. In fact, in an announcement, dated December 2020, “Speaking Up for Small Businesses”, Facebook has explained that the new Apple’s privacy policy “will have a harmful impact on many small businesses that are struggling to stay afloat and on the free internet that we all rely on more than ever. Apple’s policy will make it much harder for small businesses to reach their target audience, which will limit their growth and their ability to compete with big companies.”

How will the new update affect Facebook advertising?

According to different studies, the changes with iOS 14 will affect app-install advertisers in the first trimester 2021 and non-app install advertisers around the second or third quarter of 2021, due to significant changes data tracking and performance.

Apple’s new privacy policy update will cause the following impacts:

  • Limitations on ads optimised for conversion events.
  • Limitations on measuring the performance of iOS 14 app install campaigns.
  • Limitations on reporting for some web conversion events.
  • Delay reporting, estimating results, attribution conversion windows across Ads Manager, ads reporting and the Ads Insights API.
  • Targeting limitations.
  • Dynamic ads limitations.
  • Likely, these changes will also affect the performance of organic posts. In fact, each user's feed is based on the preferences expressed by everyone in apps or websites when browsing Facebook, Instagram or Messenger.

Which actions is Facebook recommending in response to these restrictions?

Facebook is recommending a series of actions that businesses should take in order to run effective campaigns. They will update their recommendations on this page, but the following are already available:

  • Update your Facebook's SDK for iOS 14 version 8.1 to help personalise ads delivered to iOS 14 users (just for App advertisers).
  • Facebook will limit to eight preferred web conversion events (per domain) for campaign optimisation. Initially, it will automatically configure the conversion events that are the most relevant to your business based on conversion activity.
    • It is important to notice that if a user did not consent to being tracked on iOS14, Facebook will only track the most important event from the list of 8. So you should rank the 8 events in terms of importance. For example:
      1. Purchase
      2. Add to cart
      3. Viewed store location
      4. Viewed men page
      5. Viewed women page
      6. Viewed kids page
      7. Viewed offer page
      8. Viewed Homepage
    • You can optimize for Link clicks and Landing Page Views, because they are not subject to the above limitations.
  • Verify your website's domainto help avoid any future disruption of your website campaigns.
  • Create separate iOS 14 app install campaigns due to reporting limitations from Apple's SKAdNetwork API. Each app is limited to 9 iOS 14 campaigns at once. Each campaign is limited to five ad sets of the same optimisation type (just for App advertisers).

Personal data and GDPR

Nowadays, compliance with the European Union's new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) should be a top priority for any business.

The GDPR aims to “lay down rules relating to the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and rules relating to the free movement of personal data” and impacts the way we all do business.

We should always give users transparency, control and security over their personal data. For this reason, it is crucial that you are always aware of any changes and updates and that you ensure your any implementation meets all the requirements.

Check if your website or app meets the following requirements:

  • Consent notice is displayed when users access your website or app.
  • Affirmative call to action is placed on the consent notice.
  • Provide list of third parties which will have access to the user data.
  • Explain how third parties use their personal data.



To analyse the results of these changes it necessary to wait for a few months; it will also depend on how many Apple’s users will opt out of iOS14.

Marketers have faced different challenges in the last years, especially during the pandemic, which have affected the way they used to work. This is just another one that will test our creativity, resiliency and transformation.

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