How Apple’s 2021 Privacy Update Will Affect Your Facebook Ads Campaigns

With Apple’s announcement it will give users the choice to opt out of ad tracking on their devices in early 2021, Cameron McMaster explains what NFPs should do to adapt their campaigns immediately.

In an effort to increase user privacy, Apple will include the ability to opt out of ad tracking on their devices in early 2021. If you run digital donation or conversion campaigns on Facebook or Google this year, this will affect you.

Digital campaigns won’t provide as much information

If ad tracking isn’t enabled, you won’t be able to see the total number of people who donated, purchased, downloaded, or signed up through your campaign. It will be harder to get a clear picture of how your ads actually work, harder to demonstrate ROI across digital channels, and harder to know how to create future campaigns based on campaign insights.

Facebook campaigns will be particularly affected by this change. 79.9% of Facebook users use mobile phones to access the Facebook platform and 40% of Australian mobile users use Apple’s iPhone. This means that you won’t be able to track most conversions generated by Facebook ads.

You also won’t be able to match audiences using iPhones to create Custom Audiences that can help your advertising. Currently, we can target different users based on the web pages they have visited (such as donation pages), which helps us tailor our messaging based on their degree of conversion. Apple’s update will make this more difficult.

How to adapt your campaigns?

There are a few practical first steps you should take to prepare for the tracking change:

  1. Verify your domain on Facebook Ads

This will allow Facebook to attribute conversion events to your domain. In Facebook Business Manager, go to Business Settings > Brand Safety > Domains to Verify.

screenshot of brand safety in facebook business manager

  1. Reduce the number of conversions in your account to eight events.

Facebook can only track eight events (including personalized conversions), so be sure to reduce the number of events in Business Manager to eight or less. Access your events by going to the Company menu > Event Manager.

screenshot event handler

In preparation for the change, Facebook will move to aggregate conversion tracking, which doesn’t specifically rely on tracking individuals, so conversion events can still be run.

In the meantime, start planning for a future where conversion campaign data might not be as accurate. Here are some steps you can follow:

  • Gather historical Facebook/Google performance data and other data sources (such as market research) to understand how to best reach your audience in the future.
  • Communicate changes to others in your organization, educate them on the impact of Apple’s changes to data and financial modeling for digital advertising. This means that your future reports may not be comparable.
  • Plan to run limited conversion campaigns or traffic campaigns in the future.

The full scope of Apple’s update is not yet known, we will continue to work with Facebook, Google and our customers to get the most up to date information on the changes.

Marilyn J. Hernandez