It's been several months since Apple's iOS 14 update went into effect and the dust has begun to settle. One of the main questions has been, "How are advertisers handling the mobile tracking changes?"
Earlier this year, we talked about how this change could impact advertisers, but now, we want to follow up. Have any new strategies evolved? What have advertisers been doing to reach their target audiences?
In this post, we'll discuss how advertisers have navigated the iOS 14 mobile tracking changes and give you a few tips on how to have continued success with social media and online advertising.
Wait, what happened with the iOS 14 update?
To summarize, at the beginning of 2021 Apple released a new update that would impact the way that advertisers reach their audience. With the iOS 14 update users needed to opt-in, or give permission, to an app to track their activity outside of the platform.
So, why were advertisers and marketers concerned? Well, a lot of ad campaigns target audiences based on their behavior online. If an app can't track that information, ads will become less personalized, and in turn, could be less effective.
The concern for marketers was that they wouldn't be able to deliver their ads to people based on certain activities, like if they'd visited their website, for example. This meant that ads would likely have smaller audience sizes and less accurate reporting.
Additionally, with this update advertisers are only allowed to use up to eight conversion events from a single website domain. This means if you run a campaign and track several different conversion types (like Lead, Landing Page Views, Purchase) you'll now be capped at eight at any given time.
At HubSpot, Rex Gelb, the director of paid acquisition, says, "It's hard to quantify, but from a search perspective, we haven't seen any major impact at HubSpot. With platforms like Google and Bing we are less reliant on cookies and more reliant on people searching for our target keywords."
Now, you might be wondering, "What have advertisers been doing?" Let's discuss it below.
How Advertisers are Navigating the iOS 14 Mobile Tracking Changes
While the iOS 14 update has made advertisers jump through some more hoops in setting up their ad campaigns (getting domain verification and aggregated event management), the update ultimately hasn't been the death of retargeting or Facebook ads.
Of course, there have been changes. So far, it looks like more than 90% of users are opting out of data tracking. This is more than industry experts were predicting.
So, what have advertisers been doing?
1. Diversifying ad spend.
The main story of how advertisers are navigating the latest iOS tracking update is diversifying ad spend.
This means companies have shifted some ad spend that was previously allocated to Facebook to other platforms like Google because of the remarketing features and the ability to target users based on search intent.
2. Reporting Facebook success with Google Analytics.
While some money is still being used to advertise on Facebook, there are different ways of reporting.
Companies have begun using UTM parameters on their site's URLs to generate data tracked by Facebook to Google Analytics. This means you can use Google Analytics to track some of the activity on your Facebook ad campaigns.
3. Using owned data for lookalike audiences and retargeting.
Strategies such as using lookalike audiences or retargeting an email list have continued to drive results. With privacy updates becoming a norm for the big tech companies, marketers will need to begin focusing on owned data to inform their campaigns.
With your owned data (such as an email list), you can target lookalike audiences or retarget those very people.
Keep in mind, you can still use the old method of retargeting campaigns because not all of your audience is on iOS devices. You can still use the channel as a cost-effective way to see some return on ad spend (ROAS).
4. Using other Facebook advertising options.
Besides these new ways of approaching ad campaigns, some advertisers are investing in other ways to reach audiences on Facebook.
For example, you can use the messaging objective to create a lead-generating chatbot on Facebook Messenger. There are options to retarget users who reach out to you on messenger and start conversations with new leads who click on an ad of yours.
Additionally, Facebook has another strategy that advertisers have explored: the Facebook lead ads (in-app lead form).
While using your own landing pages is definitely the preferred method, in a cookieless world, using lead forms on Facebook can help you generate leads and capture first-party data.
The iOS 14 mobile tracking changes have made Facebook ads less effective, but there are still ways for advertisers to target their audience and generate leads on the platform.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in September 2021 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.