Apple’s iOS update: How will this affect my e-commerce business?

Mitchell Tessier
Mitchell Tessier

You may have heard some rumblings regarding Apple’s most recent iOS 14.4 update, but the real world impact as it relates to your eCommerce business might still seem hazy. Privacy tweaks are nothing new in the tech industry, so why are giants like Facebook up in arms about the imminent slew of changes? 

The update will be bringing about some significant changes; perhaps most notably, it will include a pivotal change in the way Apple addresses and monitors personal privacy. Apple’s new feature zooms in on one aspect of data collection called web tracking. Dubbed App Tracking Transparency, the update will now allow users to opt out of tracking across other companies’ apps and websites. 

So what does this mean for eCommerce businesses? 

Many advertisers believe this new update is inherently at odds with most brands’ current business model, particularly as it relates to targeting, measuring, and optimizing online ads. For products in which there may be a long path to purchase, businesses will have a much harder time attributing revenue to specific advertising, such as Facebook ads. “You’re going to have a lot less data being passed through to Facebook, meaning there’s a lot less information relevant to advertisers in terms of understanding how consumers are behaving online, particularly with regards to attribution,” explains Michael Cronin, founder of and Acquire Agency.

Not sure what this means for your business? Here are the nuts and bolts of what you need to know to stay ahead of the updates as they relate to your Facebook advertising strategy. 

Conversion lift update

For those using self-serve conversion lift to measure ads against each other, Facebook Ads will no longer be able to measure all app events from iOS 14 users. The self-serve conversion lift test creation for ad sources that include iOS 14 app install campaigns will now be limited; holdout tests in the Experiments tool will also be paused once Apple’s enforcement of its iOS 14 requirement comes into effect. 

Prepare for attribution window changes

Facebook has decided to replace the account level attribution window with a new attribution setting that will be accessible during campaign creation at the ad set level. For active and new ad sets, the 28-day window will no longer be supported. The setting will default to 7-day and 1-day click view, meaning a potential decrease in the number of reported conversions. “Businesses, where Facebook is the number one place they advertise, should expect a significant drop in attributable revenue in the short term”, says Michael. To prepare for these attribution window changes, we suggest referring to the Comparing Windows feature in Ads Manager to monitor performance across all existing windows.

Set up and test event flows

Within the ad creation flow, app advertisers will now be able to set up and test SKAdNetwork-based app install campaigns in Facebook Ads Manager or via API. For web events, advertisers will also be able to view, edit, and prioritize the 8 conversion events allowed for a given domain. 

An apt undertaking here is to become very familiar with Facebook’s Marketing API and Ad Insights API, and all the data that can be accessed from there. If you are using more than 8 conversion events per domain, you should create an operational action plan with 8 conversion events per domain based on the priorities of your business. You won’t need to make changes to the pixel or Conversions API implementation since event confirmation is done in Events Manager. 

Leverage the new Resource Center

Facebook has launched a Resource Center, a new tab in Ads Manager that includes a customized checklist of tasks to prepare you for the upcoming impact of the iOS 14.4 requirements. This hub will help you ensure your advertising is set up optimally via Help Center articles, should you require further support as you work through these changes. 

What steps should I take to prepare for the upcoming changes?

If you currently optimize, target, and/or measure using web events, you should first verify your domain within Facebook Business Manager. 

By February 3, the event configuration feature will be enabled in Events Manager. We suggest setting up event configuration for your domain. As well, you should review and consider replacing ad sets that will be impacted by the impending changes. Duplicate ad sets that use new conversion events will be published immediately and replaced ad sets will be paused. If this is not your desired outcome, we advise waiting before replacing affected ad sets once Apple enforces their prompt. 

While Apple hasn’t released an official launch date for iOS 14.4, the changes are likely to come into play in early 2021. To make sure you and your business are prepared for the updates, learn more with the help of the following Help Center articles:

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