A long-threatened update to Apple’s iOS 14 operating system that’s expected to dramatically reduce data available to Facebook advertisers will come into effect any day now.
The move has sparked a fierce — and extremely public — war of words between Apple and Facebook, and is likely to have far-reaching ramifications for the way privacy is handled going forward.
All this furor boils down to an iOS feature that Apple calls App Tracking Transparency (ATT).
This privacy-focused feature was introduced in Apple’s latest beta round ahead of the full launch of iOS 14.5 in the coming weeks.
The effect of ATT will be two-fold:
- It aims to make users more aware of what each app will track before they install it
- Users will be required to opt-in for tracking after installing an app
What does it mean for advertisers?
As we all know, Facebook relies heavily on usage information. It uses this data for a range of functions, such as reporting on actions or purchases off the back of Facebook ads.
Users can already opt out of sharing this data with Facebook, but doing so traditionally required a lot of digging around in app settings.
Now, users will be explicitly asked whether they’re happy for Facebook to access all this information, with many experts expecting large numbers to opt out.
According to Facebook, the move means:
- 28-day attribution will no longer be supported, with historical data only available via the API
- Seven-day view-through attribution will be removed
However, seven-day click attribution will still exist.
Why have Apple done this?
That depends who you listen to.
From Apple’s perspective, this is all about privacy. In a media statement, the tech giant insisted this is “a simple matter of standing up for our users”.
“Users should know when their data is being collected and shared across other apps and websites — and they should have the choice to allow that or not,” it explained. “App Tracking Transparency in iOS 14 does not require Facebook to change its approach to tracking users and creating targeted advertising, it simply requires they give users a choice.”
Unsurprisingly, Facebook sees things differently.
The social media company took out a series of full-page ads in US newspapers to argue that ATT is an attack on small businesses, who stand to lose out on ad revenue as a result of the change.
What can advertisers do to prepare?
Facebook has provided specific guidance to advertisers ahead of ATT’s launch.
Advertisers intending to run ads optimised for conversion events that happen on their website are advised to:
- Verify their website’s domain. This must be done for the effective top-level domain plus one (eTLD+1). Facebook suggests prioritising domains with pixels used by multiple businesses or personal ad accounts.
- Configure eight preferred web conversion events per domain. Facebook will initially configure the conversion events it believes are most relevant to your business, based on your advertising activity. Preferences can be managed in Events Manager.
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