How Apple’s iOS 14 Update Changes Advertising on Facebook

Andres Levinton
Director of Growth Marketing
Published29 Apr, 2021
How Apple’s iOS 14 Update Changed Advertising on Facebook

Brace yourselves, marketers: the Apple iOS 14.5 update is here.

The software update comes with some handy features, for example, Apple users can now unlock their iPhone with their Apple Watch and there are also some fun new emojis. However, one aspect in particular is getting a lot of attention as it will give users greater control over how apps can collect data and therefore impact marketers’ Facebook ad strategy.

If you’ve heard the rumblings and whispers about this update and have been wondering what all the fuss is about, you’ve come to the right place. This post will break down what this new feature is, how it will affect Facebook marketing, and how marketers can best respond and adapt to these changes.

What is the iOS Update Exactly?

Source: Apple

After iPhone users update to iOS 14.5, they will have the option to opt if the app they’re using, like Facebook and Instagram, can track their behavior across the other apps they use. Until now, this behavior was enabled by default, so advertisers have been able to track the actions iPhone users take when using their phones. Ever looked at a pair of shoes and had them follow you around the internet, showing up in ads on Facebook or Instagram? This results from cross-app tracking, but now iPhone users can opt out of this feature by simply clicking a pop-up that says “Ask app not to track.”

How Will it Affect Facebook Marketing?

According to Facebook, “businesses that advertise mobile apps, as well as those that optimize, target, and report on web conversion events from any of our business tools will be affected.” This change will affect Facebook's pixel and SDK capabilities for measuring the effectiveness of their advertising by understanding the actions people take. Audience sizes are likely to shrink (according to Facebook, "the size of your app connections, app activity Custom Audiences, and website Custom Audiences may decrease") and CPAs are expected to increase.

If users opt out of tracking, this will directly impact and limit Facebook advertisers’ ability to:

  • Effectively deliver ads to people based on their engagement with their business
  • Measure and report on conversions from certain customers
  • Ensure their ads are delivered to the most relevant audiences at the right frequency
  • Accurately attribute app installs to people using iOS 14 and later
  • Predict and optimize cost per action over time and efficiently allocate budgets

This software update only impacts iPhone users, but according to, the majority of Facebook’s users (79.9%) only use the application on their mobile phone and, in the US in particular, a large portion of those users have iOS devices. Considering all the heat Facebook has gotten in recent years regarding data privacy, we can also assume that a significant portion of those iOS users may opt out of cross app tracking.

In short, this update will likely make advertising on Facebook less efficient. With less efficient ad serving, business owners and marketers will need to spend more money to cast a wider net to get the results they would’ve achieved before the iOS update.

How Can Marketers Respond and Adapt to the Privacy Changes

Ultimately, the iOS 14.5 updates will likely impact the performance of your Facebook ads, but not all is lost. There are different ways for you to optimize your Facebook ads marketing strategy in this context:

  1. Stand out with stellar design and creative. Hyper-personalized ad campaigns aren’t the only way to grab your user’s attention. Optimizing your creative by investing in high-quality copy and design can help your ads cut through the noise and attract your ideal customer. When hyper-personalization and targeting gets a hit, the way to stand out from the competition is simply with better creative. In a more even playing field, the ones with the best ad designs will win. We’ve worked with hundreds of brands on their Facebook ads and have helped them achieve incredible results on this premise alone.
  2. Follow Facebook’s recommended steps for managing the new changes. If you plan to deliver ads optimized for conversion events that occur on your business’s website, you should verify your website’s domain and configure eight preferred web conversion events per domain in Events Manager. If you plan to deliver ads optimized for conversion events that occur in your business’s app, you should update to Facebook’s SDK for iOS 14 version 8.1. Facebook has a helpful guide to walk you through all of the recommendations.
  3. Collect data from your users in other ways. For example, if you have a prospect/lead/nurture email list, you can upload this information to Facebook to generate custom audiences for retargeting purposes. While this approach doesn’t have the reach that a pixel retargeting campaign would, you’ll be re-engaging people who are a little warmer than a random user who landed on your website, so they’ll be more likely to convert.
  4. Use Google Analytics to track conversions. You can use UTM parameters to gather data on your campaign’s effectiveness and determine if your ads are converting or driving sales.
  5. Don’t put all your eggs in Facebook’s basket. Facebook may be the biggest player but it’s not the be-all, end-all of digital advertising. You can use other advertising channels like Google, Bing, and LinkedIn and build remarketing audiences through those platforms. Not sure where to start? Our digital ad design guide includes best practices and case studies for advertising on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Amazon, Google Display and other emerging channels.
  6. Learn as much as you can about your customers and prospects. Reviews, testimonials, surveys, and customer interviews are great ways to collect crucial demographic and lifestyle data about your audience, without having to sneakily follow their actions all across the internet.

Will this update be the end of Facebook advertising as we know it? It’s too early to tell. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that humans are highly adaptable and marketers will likely come up with new ways to work around these new changes. However, if your business has been relying heavily on Facebook’s targeting and retargeting features to drive results, the best thing you can do now is to:

  1. Focus on your fundamentals.
  2. Polish up your creative.
  3. Refine your messaging.
  4. Tighten up your marketing funnel.

Honing in on these key factors will strengthen your brand messaging across any and all platforms, no matter what these new software updates throw at you.

Andres Levinton
Andres LevintonDirector of Growth Marketing
Andres Levinton is the Director of Growth Marketing at Superside. Besides advocating for quality design at scale, he spends his time playing bossa-nova, searching for waves and cooking Argentinean asados.
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