How to prepare your Facebook and Instagram ad campaigns for Apple iOS 14.5

The arguments have been and gone and now the time has come to pass — iOS 14.5 is going to change our social campaigns. In our world where our data has become its own commodity, this is a vital first step in giving the power back to people over their own privacy. This will, however, have some effects on your digital fundraising, particularly your social ad campaigns. This isn’t the first-time developments in the digital world have thrown us a curveball and its unlikely to be the last; adapting to latest developments is part and parcel of the game, so there is no need to be concerned that the sky is falling in. It’s an evolving situation and as it develops, we will all find more mature strategies, tools, and approaches to deal with this change.

What are Apple doing now?

For those that haven’t been following the news on the new iOS update from Apple here’s the lowdown (for those that have, skip to the next section).

Apple’s latest iOS update last week has rolled out their new privacy and tracking features for mobile. This means all iOS 14.5 and above users will be prompted to opt-in to tracking on their devices (it’s important to note, OPT-OUT IS THE DEFAULT).

It’s a great step for a world worried about data privacy, breaches, and bad players in the space, giving users the right to manage how they are tracked (to a degree). It’s not perfect — there are some questions around Apple’s own competitive advantage (and possibly transparency) brought by their control of their own closed eco-system changes. But it is a step in the right direction.

Another important point — whilst we are concentrating on FB and Insta, as this is where a lot of your activity will likely be, this will affect advertising across all apps, including, LinkedIn, SnapChat, Tik Tok, Google, and YouTube.

What does this mean for you?

The situation maybe evolving, but it is important you understand how this is affecting your ads. And there are a number of steps you can take to ensure your social ads deliver successful lead gen or digital fundraising campaigns. If you work with a digital/social agency and they haven’t already advised you on what changes you need to take, or, if you manage your own paid social activity and haven’t prepared for these changes, now is the time. The uptake for the new iOS is likely to happen slowly over the next few weeks and, truth be told, we still don’t have any idea how many people will opt-out of tracking — previous experience from similar changes says well over 50% but recent tests found a less damaging 40% uptake (although, Facebook itself is predicting an 80% uptake).

Whatever the uptake, if Apple users don’t opt-in, this will have an undeniable effect on your campaigns.

The biggest effects of this change will be:

Tracking pixel actions
Tracking actions (Leads, purchases, custom conversions etc) using the FB pixel will now be underreported (as it limits the amount of data we can collect).

Without the pixel learning as efficiently, the ads probably won’t optimise as effectively as they currently do.

Lookalikes & Retargeting
The lack of data from visitors on IOS 14.5 means we won’t have data to build lookalike or retargeting audiences from users on updated iPhones.

App Installs
Facebook will no longer be able to optimise around App related conversions on IOS (including installs).

Additionally, Facebook has now switched to a 7-day click and 1-day view attribution window. This will lead to a reduction in viewed conversions.

So, what can you do?
So, a change is coming. But don’t fear — all is not lost. There are a number of steps you can take:

Verify your domain
If you haven’t already, verify your domain on Facebook, something Facebook considers best practice for all businesses. Going forward you will only be able to optimise for conversions on verified domains.

Facebook: How to verify your domain

Use historic reports for comparison

Studying your historic reports will allow you to understand the typical number of iOS devices in your average audience, so will guide you in how this will impact reporting.

Install the Facebook server-side API
Facebook’s conversion API (CAPI) allows you to track, store, and pass data server-side to improve accuracy of your conversion tracking. CAPI allows you to track events from your server to the pixel rather than via the browser, allowing you to process data as first-party and overcome the issue of reporting loss due to these new limitations.

To learn more about CAPI and how to install it, please find out more on the link below:

Facebook: Implementing the conversion API

Define your 8 events
To combat the changes, Facebook is moving to aggregated event measurement, with a maximum of 8 events allowed to be tracked. Chances are, most of you will be running less, so this won’t be too much for you to worry about, but if you do have multiple event tracking, you will need to define 8 events (or Facebook will define these for you based on your goals).

Learn more about aggregated event measurement here:

Facebook: Aggregated event measurement

Track Facebook Ads in Google Analytics
Tracking your ads in GA will provide complete performance reporting outside of ads manager, giving you a better overview of performance, and allowing you to compare results between FB and GA (or similar)

This does push us back to relying on last-click attribution models, which isn’t ideal, but it does offer a short-term solution.

Ultimately, we should all look to capturing and owning our own prospective donor data as the way forward.

99 signals have a great guide (including video) on how to add FB Ads to GA:

99 signals: How to track Facebook Ads through Google Analytics

Use lead generation to build that email list (and use messenger)
Now is the time to concentrate on building your email list so you can rely less on third-party data and connect directly with your donors/prospective donors. The trick will be to provide enough creativity and interesting content to keep your audience engaged and onside. Your direct communications need to be planned thoroughly with your eye on deepening connections rather than raising funds (don’t worry, if done correctly, an increase in RG and gifts should follow).

As privacy issues continue to dominate how we can use data to market to a donor/prospective donor base, this requires the need for an agile approach to your process. But, with the right preparation, we can overcome these challenges and still deliver effective campaigns; if anything, this will require a more creative approach to your acquisition marketing, driving us on to building more engaged communities invested in your cause.

This is a lot for already stretched charities to understand and accommodate. If you are still in the process of making these changes, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with any questions you may have. Email me on for any advice.

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