What We are Seeing on Facebook with the iOS14 Update

After several contentious months between Apple and social platforms, the most outspoken being Facebook, the iOS14 update rolled out. On April 26th the new rules of the update started to be enforced throughout social media.

A quick refresher, iOS14 prompts a user to opt in for tracking from any app they download or open on their phone or device. In the past, a user would have to opt out by scrolling through privacy menus on their device and turning tracking off. With Apple’s app tracking transparency (ATT), they will not have to opt in, meaning it will be much more difficult to track conversions from Facebook and other social media platforms and apps.

Now that the rollout has officially arrived and been activated, we are seeing some changes in Facebook. Please keep in mind, what happens in one account does not mean it happens in every account. What we are witnessing within our client accounts may be different than your experience as Facebook is not a one size fits all platform.

We have always taken Facebook reporting with a grain of salt. Based on what Facebook has preferred to report on in the past, such as the insane number of vanity metrics and the (sometimes) huge discrepancies between Google Analytics and Facebook, we know that Facebook likes to report a higher direct value than they actually provide. The iOS14 update has led to some noticeable changes in traffic, conversions, and reporting.  We are seeing declining conversions and traffic through Facebook across the board. This is not a surprise since they can no longer track everyone. Not being able to track traffic and conversions does not mean it isn’t there. We suggest keeping an eye on your total web conversions and revenue as compared with previous months as well as YoY data. We aren’t seeing the iOS14 update have any major impact on conversions or revenue, but it is impacting attribution.

Reporting has also changed in the last two weeks. Facebook has started pushing advertisers away from conversion tracking and instead insisting they use Landing Page as their goal metric. We don’t plan on doing this anytime soon; we can still see conversions and, even if we can’t see all of them, we know that Facebook is contributing to the sales funnel. Facebook is also including previous month’s campaigns into monthly reports. When I ran reports for the dates April 1st, 2021 – April 30th, 2021, March campaigns were included. Understandably, Facebook wants to show the value of past campaigns.  Even when the budget is gone and the campaigns are off, they are still leading to conversions. This is one way of looking at the situation. However, these campaigns are running on a 7 day click through window. (All campaigns managed by Lett Direct use click through, not view through.) This means these sales have always been there, are most likely a multi-touch since they are being counted after the ad has stopped running, and Facebook did not feel they were important enough to show previously. It feels a little desperate to prove the worth of Facebook ads.

Finally, some people are seeing a sad, little, veiled threat when they update to iOS14. A popup is displayed asking people to “Help keep Facebook free of charge.” Or stated more plainly, “Please allow us to continue tracking you.” Again, this carries a slight odor of desperation.

Enforcement has only been taking place for two weeks and we are sure we will see a lot more changes in the upcoming months. Here’s the biggest take away. Don’t panic. People are still using and loving Facebook and other social media platforms. Watch your overall web sales and revenue for any major changes. Be aware that, in the past, Facebook was probably over reporting their contribution. Use Facebook reporting combined with your other tools to access how much budget to put into your campaigns. Remember, as marketing channel options continue to grow, so does the sales funnel. A holistic and honest approach to your marketing channels is the best and more balanced option.