Facebook iOS Conversion Underreporting
In the year since Apple implemented Privacy updates that impact the ability to track certain website behavior, the media and ad technology teams here at Ansira have learned a lot. The team, like many in the industry, have directly felt the impact of available measurement KPIs, options for targeting and optimization, and the rise in overall media costs. The observations made while working in partnership with clients on their media buying and planning campaign activations was recently publicly confirmed by Facebook.
Facebook shared in February 2022 they’re experiencing the impacts of these iOS updates, with likely 8% underreporting of iOS web conversions.
Impact on Facebook Media Campaigns
Facebook has long been a major component of many media plans. The breadth and depth of targeting, the ability to gain insights on creatives, messaging and targeting impacts and the opportunity to optimize and invest in-line with business goals has made it a practical and powerful tool for businesses of all sizes. However, with Apple’s updates to improve consumer privacy, Facebook has also sustained impacts on its ability to maintain the same scale of success across its ad ecosystem. Facebook expects the overall targeting and measurement challenges to moderately increase from Apple’s changes and from regulatory changes throughout 2022.
Here’s what’s happening:
- Loss of Measurement: Consumers have gained the ability to be more selective about what information they share, limiting Facebook’s ability to track certain website behavior, specifically as it relates to the Facebook pixel. This reduction in available data is leading to an underreporting of conversion data across ad accounts for iOS users. Additionally, it’s also created a delay in Facebook receiving ad performance data, presenting further challenges for advertisers to measure their campaigns accurately, effectively and timely.
- Limitations on Targeting: As more devices update to iOS 14 or later versions, this will have an increasing impact on custom website and app audiences as they will shrink over time.
- Optimization Limitations: With gaps in data and tracking capabilities, there are fewer data points for Facebook’s algorithms to leverage when optimizing campaigns. This, in turn, leads to less accurate business outcomes.
- Rising Media Costs: Because iOS updates are resulting in 1) less data to measure, 2) inconsistencies in reporting and 3) a higher degree of variability in driving accurate business outcomes, it is causing a ripple effect driving up media costs for advertisers. Our estimates are that costs on iOS devices will increase 10-20X more than media served on non-iOS devices. At this time, Facebook cannot supply any specifications on iOS updates directly correlated to rising media costs across the Facebook network of systems.
How to Best Move Forward?
With iOS changes continuously rolling out, as well as the impending deprecation of 3rd party cookies, it is as important as ever to future-proof your media approach. Facebook has shared that there is no way to inherently combat the changes of reduced signal due to iOS updates. So, the question becomes, how do you best adapt to the evolving ads ecosystem?
The team suggests the following:
- Implement Facebook’s Conversions API. Through Conversions API, advertisers can pass information directly from their servers to Facebook to inform their advertising for full-funnel visibility and more reliable dating sharing. Conversions API is less dependent on browser technologies than the pixel and enables businesses to optimize for results that are further down the funnel and closer to the outcomes that matter. It can help both improve performance today and safeguard performance for the future as browser technologies become less effective. Increasingly, advertisers are using the Conversions API to optimize ad targeting, decrease cost per action, and more accurately measure campaign outcomes.
- Implement Facebook’s Aggregated Event Measurement. This is a new protocol that Facebook created in response to the iOS 14 updates, which changes how conversions are measured by Facebook ads. Advertisers are now limited to 8 conversion events, and they must be ranked in order of importance to the advertiser. This ranking will then be used to determine how to track conversions from users who opt-out of tracking. Don’t forget to verify your domain as well.
- Prioritize Your Own First-Party Data. With Facebook’s 3rd party audiences reducing in size, leveraging your First Party data for targeting has become that much more important. With owned data comes the power and opportunity to target known individuals – identifying your audience, and those who most likely represent a converting audience for your business will drive media and business success. Bonus, you can use your first-party data within Facebook too!
- Ensure You’re Taking Taking a Holistic Approach to Media Planning. While Facebook has – and will continue to be a powerful engagement tactic – it is not the only social media platform to engage with your audience. Creating a holistic strategy and approach to execution enables marketers to optimize based on business goals, rather than relying on what is available within a given platform.
- Consider Modeled Reporting. For Conversion-optimized campaigns, consider waiting a minimum of 72 hours and/or the full length of the optimization window selected before evaluating performance. Where possible, analyze reporting at the Campaign level. Facebook’s model for conversions is best viewed at the campaign level. Results at creative level can be influenced by multiple factors. As a result, levels lower than Campaign may not reflect true conversion time for modeled conversions.
The impacts of increased Privacy governance and a future without the cookie necessitate the need to be nimble in how your organization adapts to the evolving ads ecosystem — Facebook is just one of the many sites impacted by the changes. Remember, “The only constant in life is change.” — Heraclitus
Thought leadership and POV written by Cary Zelle with contributions from Ansira Senior Product Manager, Colleen Harris