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Apr 30, 2021 BY Caroline Fothergill UX Design & Content, Marketing

The 411 on iOS14 and What it Means for Your Facebook Advertising

This is not a drill! Something big is happening with Apple’s privacy settings.

With Apple’s new software update, iOS14.5, all mobile apps are now required to ask users (AKA the millions of people who use iPhones) whether they want their activity to be tracked for third-party advertising. This update is happening right now. You may already be receiving these in-app alerts!

Let other advertisers run out of the pool screaming while you wish them “happy travels!” and do a celebratory backstroke.
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When asked whether they want to be followed around or not, we can assume that most people will remember watching The Social Dilemma and select “Do Not Allow.” Apple and Facebook are anticipating that as many as 80% of iPhone users will take this opportunity to opt out of third-party tracking. This means conversion tracking, retargeting capabilities, and in-app data collection will become more limited for digital advertisers, namely on Facebook.

To quote a great WordStream article on this topic, “These changes will 100% affect small businesses. In fact, they will have a massive impact on all businesses advertising on the platform.”

If you advertise on Facebook and Instagram, here’s what you should do:

First, do not take this update to mean that you should no longer advertise on these platforms. At this point, my stance is actually quite the opposite: Let other advertisers run out of the pool screaming while you wish them “happy travels!” and do a celebratory backstroke. Because fewer advertisers = lower demand = cheaper ads.

That said, you cannot leave your Facebook Ads Manager account exactly how it is. This is why you’re seeing scary notifications plastered all over your account right now! There are two things you absolutely need to do:

1. Verify your domain(s)

In your Facebook Business Manager account, go to Settings > Brand Security > Domains. Verify your website(s) using one of the three methods. DNS and Meta Tag Verification are the two simplest options and shouldn’t take you more than a few minutes. If you don’t do this, Facebook will block you from running ads until you do.

2. Prioritize your conversion events

You can now only track eight Conversion Events within Facebook Ads Manager. Eight is plenty for small and mid-sized organizations. The big hitch is, if a user completes multiple events (i.e. becomes a lead and then makes a donation a few days later), only the prioritized event will be tracked.

You need to go into Events Manager within your Facebook Business account and tell Facebook how to prioritize your Events. Do you want that user to be tracked for becoming a lead, or for making a gift? Once your domain is verified, you can do this by clicking on the new “Aggregated Event Measurement” option within Facebook Events Manager and clicking “Configure Web Events”:

the Aggregated Event Measurement tab in Facebook Ads Manager

Here’s what else you should know about the implications of iOS14 for Facebook advertising:

  • Say goodbye to real-time conversion data. Conversion data is now more limited and can take up to three days to pull into your Facebook Ads Manager account, so don’t panic if you’ve been running a campaign for 48 hours and don’t see any conversions. Your conversion data may also be less accurate now, because Facebook (and other platforms) are relying on machine learning and statistical modeling to fill in the gaps. Now more than ever, the ultimate source of truth is your own website.

  • Retargeting audiences based on your web traffic will be smaller. This is because some of your web visitors are iPhone users who have decided to opt out of being tracked. You can make up for this in a few creative ways, including expanding retargeting to include people who have recently interacted with your Facebook page or Instagram account.

  • iPhone users who opt out won’t show up in Breakdowns. Data Breakdowns in Facebook Ads Manager still exist, but the data is limited because any users who have opted out are missing from the picture.

Looking ahead

In terms of how this impacts the future of Facebook advertising, and digital advertising in general, new technology is rapidly being developed to fill the data gaps so advertisers can still thrive while consumers can enjoy (a little) more privacy. Right now it seems like—for those who make the few important adjustments recommended in this article—maintaining or even surpassing the results you’re used to receiving from your ads should be totally doable. In partnership, the Mighty Citizen team and I just launched a Facebook and Instagram campaign for international nonprofit Humanity & Inclusion that is seeing an incredibly high conversion rate, among the best I’ve ever seen on these platforms.

Remember, if other Facebook advertisers bail, that means more money in the pool for the rest of us. And we can sleep even better at night knowing platforms like Facebook are now forced to be more transparent about their data tracking practices.

Mighty Citizen Can Help

Our experts in paid media advertising can help you usher your digital marketing efforts through this iOS14 update and beyond. Drop us a line and let us know how we can be a partner.



Caroline Fothergill, the Marketer on a Mission, is a digital marketing wizard for do-gooders. She helps nonprofits and socially impactful businesses bring in new fans and funds with creative digital marketing, advertising, and communications.

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