Facebook Warns Apple iOS 14 is Bad for Small Businesses

22 December, 2020

15 mins read

Facebook Warns Businesses Apple iOS 14

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Facebook has warned small businesses the Apple iOS 14 is bad news for their social media marketing

Long story short, in June 2020, Apple announced apps would be required to display a tracking opt-out to iOS users as part of the iOS 14 update. This would be part of their App Tracking Transparency, which aims to provide Apple product users with clarity on how their information is being stored and used.

Facebook has launched an aggressive awareness campaign about how damaging to small businesses the update will be. While Apple delayed the App Tracking Transparency update until early 2021, they say it needs to be stopped altogether. 

If you’re a business owner or marketer, you may be concerned about how Apple iOS 14 will impact your Facebook Ad results — and for good reason. We’re here to give you the info you need to stay in the loop and be prepared. 

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

What is the Apple App Tracking Transparency update?

Apple assigns something called an Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) to every Apple user’s device. App advertisers use IDFAs to track user data so they can more correctly target people with suitable ads. 

The new Apple App Tracking Transparency framework will require apps to attain the user’s permission to track them prior to being able to access that user’s IDFA. It also means apps need to provide users with information of what data they’re storing and how it’s being used.

Apple extended the release of the new framework to give app developers time to prepare their app for the changes in early 2021. But Facebook has warned the new changes could still be detrimental to businesses advertising via apps.

How will Apple iOS 14 impact your Facebook Ads?

Apps use personal data to customise which ads you see. For example, if you live in Townsville, you’re more likely to be shown ads from Townsville advertisers. Or, if you’ve been visiting clothing websites a lot, you may be more likely to see more clothing advertisers. It helps provide an all-round better experience so you’re not seeing irrelevant content on your social media feeds.

Without apps tracking you via your Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA), the ads you see may not be relevant to your interests. As a result, businesses will start to see less clicks and engagement through their ads, decreasing their profits.

Facebook has taken fire at Apple by emailing their ad users, creating web pages and publishing ads in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. Their message is simple:

“We’re standing up to Apple for small businesses everywhere.”

The message from Facebook to Apple is while they agree with data transparency, providing users with an opt-in, rather than an opt-out of tracking, will hurt small businesses. In a year like 2020, where digital marketing has become essential for ANY business, it’s hurtful to see a tech-giant trying to limit the success they may be able to receive due to limited consumer knowledge.

Facebook has identified while they do agree with Apple’s policy, nor believe it’s ethical, they have no choice but to comply, or else cease their app on Apple devices.

3 Ways Apple iOS 14 Will Impact Facebook Users

1. Users will see less relevant ads.

While your phone knowing more about you may seem daunting, it’s actually optimising your experience. By knowing where you are, what you like, what you don’t like and more about you, apps can provide you with more customised information very quickly.

Tracking also helps ensure the ads you see are more likely to interest you. When you’re less interested in the ads you see, you’re less likely to engage with them. Less engagement of ads means less support of Australian businesses.

2. Businesses may see a decrease in ad performance.

When users are not interested in the ads they receive, they’re not going to engage. For those running awareness campaigns to reach large audiences, this may not be too much of a concern. However, those running conversion campaigns will run into trouble if they don’t know what they’re doing.

Facebook will also be required to limit how many ad events can be run per domain. They have advised no more than 8 events can be run at any time, and will pause any running outside of these parameters once Apple rolls out the update.

The good news is, only Facebook Ads run to Apple mobile device users should be impacted by the iOS 14 update. Unfortunately, a very large percentage of ad receivers are using these very devices. But, it’s not all bad news.

Apple has released a guide for preparing yourself for the Apple iOS 14 update, which we’ve summarised below.

3. Social media apps may no longer be free.

Facebook is a business like any other with staff, overheads and expenses. One of the ways they generate money is through their ad platform. With ad performance lessening and the limited knowledge of many businesses running their own ads, people may begin to invest in other forms of digital marketing.

As a result, Facebook is going to need to replace revenue. In their message to businesses, Facebook has advised many platforms may begin to turn to subscription models, where users have to pay to use their apps. Their suspicion may be this is already something Apple has considered, as they would then profit from every subscription purchased via the app store.

How to Prevent Apple iOS 14 Impacting Your Ads

1. Support Facebook in their plea to Apple.

Facebook has created a page for users and businesses to voice their concerns about the impact of the Apple iOS 14 App Tracking Transparency update. The Speak Up page on Facebook is live, allowing you to upload videos or statements to have your voice heard.

While this is not guaranteed to have Apple not roll-out the update, you can at least know you’ve done your part in supporting businesses in Australia — and the rest of the world too.

2. Update to Facebook’s iOS 14 version 8 Software Development Kit.

The Facebook Software Development Kit (SDK) allows your website or app to be integrated with Facebook. It allows you to share data between your website or app and Facebook, including user data, login capability, Facebook content sharing and more.

Updating the Facebook SDK will help you still receive conversion event reporting from those already on iOS14 devices. 

To update the Facebook SDK:

  1. Log in to developers.facebook.com/apps
  2. Select your app.
  3. Continue to Settings, then Advanced. 
  4. View the Upgrade API Version section and select the latest version for both Upgrade All Calls and Upgrade Calls for App Roles. 

If you don’t have a developer account, you may want to speak to your website or app builder first to determine if this is right for you.

3. Ensure your domains with Facebook Pixels are verified.

Facebook advises businesses may need to verify their website domains, prioritising those with a Facebook Pixel. A Facebook Pixel is an analytics tool, which connects your ads to your website. 

If you’re with a reliable social media marketing service, like Localsearch, they should have done this for you already. For those running their own campaigns, you can verify your domain in your Facebook Business Manager under the Brand Safety Tab in your Business Settings. You’ll see a domains option there where you can manage your current domains or add new ones.

Should you opt-out of apps tracking your personal data?

Put simply, if you’re not doing anything wrong and you like the ease technology brings to your life, do not opt out of tracking of personal data in apps. As technology progresses, personal data will help shape our experiences, making it better and easier to use.

For those concerned about how your data is being stored and used, tracking transparency will allow you to see who has what information and how they’re using it. Governments about the world are also becoming more involved in how the information is collected and used, and for what purposes. So, as technology progresses, we’ll see tighter guidelines around how advertising works.

This particular opt in could help secure the futures of endless businesses, not only in Australia, but the world.

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