There are big changes to Facebook & Instagram Ads coming to a phone near you soon.

These changes are going to throw a fairly large spanner into Zuckerberg’s empire and the way we currently target and execute Facebook and Instagram ad campaigns.

Apple is about to start showing its iOS 14 users a popup which allows them to opt out of their data being tracked “across Apps and Websites owned by other companies.”

 The potential impact of this change resulted in Facebook taking out full-page ads in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Financial Times to declare that it was “standing up to Apple.” Just before Christmas.

But what does this mean for advertisers? It is still early days, and clearly Facebook will do all they can to come up with work arounds for these barriers but the gist of it is that if someone opts out then the tracking pixel will not be active for that user. Any tracking such as Add to Cart, Leads, Conversions will not be reported.

Businesses will still be gaining sales from these users however, the sales and actions will not be tracked in the ads manager which is going to have a big impact on the reported cost per sale and tracked ROI of campaigns.

On top of ad performance being underreported the ability to optimise for these actions will be limited too which is bad news for advertisers, particularly small businesses that have become reliant on this channel.

One of THE main reasons for the success of Facebook ads is the ability to retarget and build laser focused audiences with retargeting and lookalike audiences, not having a large proportion of data on who visited and took actions on your site from iOS devices is far from ideal.

Also, to be clear this is not just a Facebook issue ALL platforms are going to be affected including Google – if you haven’t got one already it’s probably time to start building up your customer e-mail list!

Which Ad Objectives are affected?

Basically, any objective that uses the pixel to inform it will be affected.

Traffic Ads optimised to landing page views, if you are optimising to link clicks your activity will not be affected.

Conversion Ads optimised to Standard Events or Custom Conversions.

App Installs when targeted to iOS devices.

Catalog sales that take place on your website (start thinking now about Instagram Shops in app checkout ahead of its arrival in the UK).

On platform lead gen is an objective not affected by the changes so think about how you might be able to utilise this for your business (perhaps to build your email list?)

That’s not it!

On top of these Apple changes Facebook are making some of their own, some are in response to Apple others are not.

Facebook are scaling back the available tracking events (standard events and custom conversions) to a maximum of 8. This won’t affect those business with a simple path to purchase but for products with more complex sales funnels these changes might be challenging.

Facebook are also making changes to the conversion window; advertisers will no longer be able to track beyond 7 days which is bad news if you have a longer purchase cycle. Those with longer journeys will need to think about alternative tracking for example UTM links.

Facebook will only track these conversion windows: –

1-day click

7-day click (default)

1-day click and 1-day view

7-day click and 1-day view

This all sounds bad, should I panic?

No, none of this is great news and as we’ve said it is really early days so be prepared and follow the steps below: –

  • Turn on Conversions API (the Conversions API allows advertisers to send web events from their servers directly to Facebook).
  • Verify your domain with Facebook. This tells FB you are in control of your domain and you are connected to your Business Manager.

  • Get full visibility of the impact the Apple changes might have on your business / reporting
    • How many leads and sales are you getting from iOS devices, you can use the Breakdown reports to do this.
  • Prioritise which Conversion Events you will use if you have more than 8.
  • Build your email list… we’re not joking here; you can use ads to drive lead generation on the platform which will make you less reliant on the pixel for retargeting.

To be forewarned is to be forearmed, following the steps above will get you as prepared as you can be ahead of the changes taking place. Obviously, we will be watching and learning over the next few weeks and months offering practical solutions and ways forward as we get to grips with the changes ourselves.

One thing is certain there is never a dull moment in Facebook land especially when Apple come along to play too.