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In case you haven’t already heard, Apple’s recently-announced “App Tracking Transparency Update” has got Facebook and social media marketers up in arms — to say the least. While it’s still early days to determine the exact impact that this update will have on Facebook advertising at large, it’s safe to say that the effects will be significant, and those in the industry should certainly begin to strategize and prepare for the potential fallout. 

So what IS this update exactly? In a nutshell, with the new iOS14 update, Apple will now begin to prompt users to either opt in or out of receiving targeted Facebook advertising by asking the user this question upon downloading the Facebook / Instagram apps: “Do you want this app to track you?”. The jury is still out as to how users will respond to the new prompt, but there has certainly been a lot of rhetoric and dispute between Facebook and Apple especially regarding the ‘less-than-subtle’ wording choice. Some think that many people will opt out when asked if they want to be “tracked” on the simple basis that this sounds ‘creepy’ to them, rather than a deeper understanding of what this will mean for their user experience. 

One of the main implications of this change, depending on the real-life user response to it, may be less targeted and interest-specific advertising. If your Facebook app is unable to track your activity, it doesn’t mean you will stop seeing ads altogether during your scroll time, but rather, that Facebook’s algorithms will have less ability to track your other online behavior and make deductions about what your interests are based on it. It’s difficult to tell whether this change will be positive or negative for users, but at least it seems they will have more of a conscious choice in the matter. 

This update will likely roll out over a few months or so, but is expected to begin in early spring of this year, along with the upcoming release of iOS 14, iPad OS 14, and tvOS 14. 

While it’s difficult to pre-empt the full impact of this update, there are a few things that you can begin to do to prepare and adapt your Facebook advertising strategies to be ahead of the game and not be caught off guard: 

  1. Review Facebook’s new ad account updates that are currently in the works in response to Apple’s 1OS14 release. Here are a few of the most important ones you need to consider: 

Domain Verification: Ensure your domains are verified in order to maintain tracking and advertising privileges through the Facebook pixel and events tracking

Conversion Attribution Window Restriction: Conversion attribution window is changing from 28 days to only 7  — if you get a lot of delayed attribution conversions your reporting may look off and your CPA may be affected

Maximum 8 Pixel event optimizations per domain and further ad account limitations

  1. Start thinking about how you can mix and match with other targeting and advertising platforms and models to beef up your current Facebook advertising, and rethink your strategies toward retargeting, custom audiences, and other means of segmentation so you’re not left high and dry if Facebook’s conversion optimization and other targeting algorithms leave much to be desired. You may also want to explore other platforms such as YouTube, Google Ads, and LinkedIn ads to expand your reach and maintain more accurate audience segmentation and insights through this period. 
  2. Rethink your content marketing strategy – Start brainstorming how you can adapt to a more open-ended targeting style and use content marketing as a way to more effectively funnel client interest, and then retarget with the next content or information that will help to push your potential client down the funnel in a more organic way. 
  3. If you’re a Facebook advertising agency, you will want to prepare your clients with this information and help them understand the impact this may have on your current reporting and attribution systems. 

As usual with these kinds of updates with such big players in the digital advertising world, it’s difficult to predict exactly what the outcome will be. For the time being, stay informed and start preparing for the potential what-ifs so you’re not left high-and-dry when the time comes. 

We’ll be posting regular updates on this and other important changes rolling out in this wild, wild world of digital advertising, so stay tuned, and don’t forget to subscribe to our email list so you don’t miss out on any important updates.