Back in December 2020, Apple announced they were going to roll out some big changes to data tracking permissions in iOS 14 that could significantly impact Facebook advertisers.
Ever since they dropped this bombshell, advertisers in the know have been scrambling to figure out what this all means for the future of their ads.
Even advertisers that don't really keep up with the news are now very much aware something is up with all of the really dire-looking warnings popping up on every screen in Ads Manager!
Action Required! Your Facebook ads will be paused! Prepare for the iOS 14 changes coming soon!
I mean, it's enough to make anyone nervous!
The changes are going into full effect in late April 2021 and we are beginning to see some impact now – though no one seems to know a hard date for the full release (and it will most likely be rolled out over the course of a week or two with different users having different deadlines).
So why all of the hubbub over the new updates?
The new tracking permissions that Apple is rolling out in iOS 14 will have an impact on both data tracking and audience targeting for ads.
It seems like a lot of smaller advertisers are just now jumping into action – with many people still not knowing what they need to do in order to prepare and avoid future problems altogether, including verifying your domain, and deciding which conversion types you want prioritized (if any).
The update won't impact all users the same way – so I'll break down who it's impacting the most, steps to verify your domain, and whether those ominous-sounding ad warnings are true and if your ads will get paused after all!
I understand why people are having freakouts over pixel errors like the ones below though, so let's get to the bottom of this.
Who will the iOS 14 updates impact the most?
This will impact anyone running Facebook ad conversion campaigns or anyone that has their own app.
(I mostly work with coaches and consultants running lead generation funnels, so the focus of this article is more for them rather than app developers, FYI.)
The updates have especially big implications for advertisers running ads to websites that they don't own or fully control.
For example, if your site is on an e-commerce platform like Shopify, you use a webinar service such as Stealth, or you host your landing pages on a 3rd party like LeadPages.
Advertisers in this position will not be able to verify the domain where the transactions or conversions occur and as a result, they will not be able to configure these events or optimize for conversions – which is an industry best practice.
This will impact countless advertisers since this is a very common scenario. Forcing advertisers to optimize for another event (like link clicks or landing page views) almost guarantees lower conversion rates and higher ad costs for small businesses everywhere. Ruh roh!
How will this impact Facebook ad tracking?
With the updates, advertisers will only be able to use a maximum of eight conversion events per domain for optimization. Facebook will automatically prioritize them for you, or you can choose the priority order yourself in the Events Manager. More on this later.
One important thing to also note is that there will be a three-day delay on data display for the data that comes from iOS 14.5 users.
I've always said that patience is a virtue when it comes to running Facebook ads, but it's going to be truer than ever moving forward. You can NOT rush to make decisions with incomplete data, period, so short-term campaigns will be greatly impacted.
PRO TIP: I would strongly consider focusing more on evergreen content where possible so you can play the long game when it comes to optimization.
What should I do if I'm getting Facebook pixel warnings that my ads will be paused?
Step 1: Create a Business Manager Account
If you don't yet have a Business Manager account, now is the time to create one! In the past, it wasn't really required, but everyone needs one now in order to verify their domain.
Go to business.facebook.com and follow the prompts to set up an account.
Once you do, you will need to add your current ad account and Facebook page to that Business Manager.
If you already have accounts, there's no need to create new ones, but you DO need to link them to the Business Manager. Think of Business Manager like a hub for all of your Facebook assets.
Make sure you fill out all of your Business Info in there to create trust on the account.
Step 2: Verify Your Domain
A step-by-step guide from Facebook on how to do this can be found HERE.
Verification can take up to 72 hours so don't wait until the last second!
As I mentioned before, you can ONLY verify your own domain, so if you are running ads to a webinar system like Stealth, for example, you will NOT be able to verify the Stealth domain.
Most third-party providers have been scrambling to come up with working solutions to this issue, so check in with yours to see if they have a solution yet. (Stealth has come up with a solution and I hear there's a working solution for Shopify as well.)
One easy solution is to embed the pages you are sending traffic to on your own website when possible. For example, if your webinar registration pages can be embedded on your domain then you can verify that and all of those pixel tracking warnings will go away.
Slow load times on your site? Rather than embedding the registration page on your site, you might consider just hosting the thank you page on your site and having the webinar system redirect to you after someone signs up. After all, the page that you need to pixel and verify isn't the registration page, it's the thank you page after signup.
Step 3: Prioritize Your Events
Advertisers will only be able to use a maximum of eight conversion events (registrations, leads, etc) per domain. Facebook will automatically prioritize them for you based on current ad traffic, so no action is really needed if you only use a small number of pixels.
You can prioritize them yourself in the Events Manager inside of Ads Manager, under Aggregated Event Management. You must verify your domain before you can do this.
You can learn more about Aggregated Event Management here.
Step 4: Consider Using UTM parameters for Added Insights Into What's Happening
According to Facebook, “URL parameters can help you understand the effectiveness of your ads. For example, you can use URL parameters to identify where your ad traffic is coming from and which ads helped drive a conversion. Insights from URL parameters can show which link people clicked to get to your ad's destination, like to your website or Facebook Page. Keep in mind that although you can add URL parameters to your ads on Facebook, you'll need to use a website analytics tool to track the results.”
You can learn more about UTM parameters here.
Step 5: Check Out Third Party Tracking Tools
According to their site, “HYROS is an advanced ad tracking tool that allows you to see the entire breakdown of all your traffic and how profitable it REALLY is. HYROS tracks your customer by 10 data points and combines them together for laser-accurate tracking.”
I've been using HYROS with some of my done-for-you Facebook ad clients, and it can be a complete game-changer – ESPECIALLY if you do sales over the phone and have never been able to track your lead flow top to bottom.
I'm not affiliated with HYROS, but it's too good not to mention here, especially considering it is NOT impacted by the iOS updates and shouldn't be by any other nonsense that rolls out in the future.
The one downside to HYROS is the hefty price tag + and their minimum ad spend requirements, which is why I'm happy to have found a solid second option that's a FRACTION of the cost: Redtrack.io
I've not had a chance to personally use Redtrack yet, BUT other media buyers have told me that it's just as good as HYROS and the customer support and setup has been better with Redtrack.
Only Time Will Tell
To sum up, there's still a lot to be seen as to how the iOS 14 updates will impact advertisers in the long run, but if you are proactive and take the steps above you will be ahead of many advertisers who have yet to take any action.
It is in Facebook's best interest to put measures in place to mitigate the impact of Apple's updates, so I have faith it will work itself this year.
WHAT TO READ NEXT: Four tips on how to make your Facebook ad account MORE secure and LESS likely to get shut down before you even get started.