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Colton Hathaway

How Apple’s iOS 14 Consumer Privacy Features Affect Optimization in Digital Advertising

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In September 2020, Apple released the most significant iOS update to date, iOS 14. The operating system’s newest version introduced improvements to the home screen design, various existing apps, Siri, and many other tweaks streamlining the iOS interface. The software update also came with a significant policy change in favour of consumer privacy. Consumer privacy has been top of mind for the digital advertising industry for some time now. To better understand this issue, look no further than Apple’s release of iOS 14 and the privacy-driven changes to the Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA).

What is the IDFA?

The IDFA is a random device identifier assigned by Apple to a user’s device. Advertisers leverage IDFAs to collect behavioural data without revealing any personal information, which enables brands to track user events and deliver customized advertising. The data gathered by the IDFA is used to discover information such as user interactions with mobile advertising campaigns and other in-app or website events.

IDFAs are an accurate means to track iOS users. Each device is assigned a single IDFA which allows advertisers to track event triggers for attribution purposes in a campaign; this allows advertisers’ to have greater certainty about the defining qualities of that user.

Apple’s mobile operating systems have always allowed a degree of cross-app tracking, however, since the rollout of iOS 14, apps now have to ask users permission to track certain activities. Each user is presented with the App Tracking Transparency (ATT) pop-up asking if they consent to be tracked by the app. The new consent model, which requires a user to opt in, determines whether Apple shares their IDFA. The AppsFlyer & MMA Consumer Report 2021 determined that 45% of users said they would not allow tracking despite knowing that without it ads become more repetitive, and less relevant to a users’ interests.

What Does The Rollout of iOS 14 Mean For Digital Advertising?

Campaign measurement, attribution, and audience targeting have the most impact for advertisers.

iOS 14 allows users to disable precise location tracking, which has a direct impact on measurement and attribution. With Apple’s iOS 14, users are required to opt in, allowing Apple to share precise or approximate locations with each app. Those who choose to opt out of location sharing are shielded from technologies such as in-store location tracking.

Ad measurement has seen some changes as a result of iOS 14. SKAdNetwork, a new application programming interface (API), released by Apple renders conversion data available at the campaign level but data consistency is still impacted. SKAdNetwork and the IDFA changes in iOS 14 disrupt how attribution is determined in the mobile performance marketing space. Apple has taken attribution in-house to preserve user privacy, as user clicks are no longer routed through third-party attribution providers. Without the ability to track the consumer journey, last-click attribution is one of the only attribution models left available to advertisers. Many types of ad targeting are impacted by the rollout of iOS 14, including retargeting, which is no longer available for users who have opted out of sharing their IDFA.

How Can Brands Pivot their Digital Advertising Strategies To Combat iOS 14 Privacy Updates?

Apple’s iOS 14 update limits user information exchanged with Facebook. The hindrance to information exchange has a colossal impact on brands who run Facebook Ads and leverage Facebook Business Tools to target audiences, track conversion events, and optimize ads. As a result, brands serving ads to iOS 14 devices have limited Facebook Ads functionality available to them, which has a direct impact on ad personalization and performance reporting for both app and web conversions events.

The Apple software update has resulted in the Aggregated Event Measurement (AEM), a solution implemented by Facebook to measure campaign performance in a way that aligns with the new user privacy policy. AEM is used to process Facebook Pixel conversion events on iOS devices. AEM allows only the highest priority events to be reported in a session with multiple user actions, affecting advertisers’ visibility on event progression.

Before the iOS 14 software release, browser cookies were the main source of information for advertisers. Web browsers would collect information to be passed to Facebook to assist in ad optimization. The latest iOS version further impedes on advertisers’ ability to gather data from browser cookies, rendering creative server-side solutions a necessity to collect data for ad targeting and measurement.

As browsers and operating systems continue to implement stricter privacy regulations, advertisers now have to rely on server-side alternatives such as Convertevent. This solution allows advertisers to avoid the Java-side of a browser, allowing user actions to be sent directly from the server-side to Facebook’s server. A server-side solution allows advertisers to better understand the consumer journey and access the information required to optimize ads and maximize performance.

Convertevent works with Facebook Pixel to get advertisers the data required to provide a more accurate analysis of ad performance and attribution. The API solution enables measurement of deep funnel events allowing greater campaign efficiency and impact.

Contact us today for a consultation and start leveraging Convertevent for a more comprehensive understanding of consumer events and interactions with iOS 14.

The Role Of Facebook’s Conversions API in 2021

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Facebook’s Conversions API: What Every Advertiser Needs To Know

Conversion tracking and attribution data provide essential insights into advertising campaigns, revealing opportunities for optimization and improvement. In the past, marketers and brands relied heavily on browser cookie data to inform digital marketing campaigns, retargeting audiences, and track user engagement with ads. This data is used to identify top-performing ads, successful targeting tactics, and most efficient practices to maximize impact and budget.

As the value of personal data continues to occupy the conversation around social media advertising, browsers and softwares are opting for stricter privacy regulations and decreased sharing of personal data. Advertisers are now faced with difficulty accessing valuable data from cookies, rendering the tracking and analysis of their most high-value customer events more arduous than ever before.

Contributing to this trend is the launch of iOS 14, which enforces the clear description of all information regarding privacy practices in App Store Connect and requires users to opt-in to an app’s data sharing policy via a prompt. This launch, currently scheduled for Q2 2021, will further impede marketers’ ability to gather consumer data through apps and browsers, rendering server-to-server solutions imperative.

The Role of Facebook’s Conversion Tracking API

Facebook’s Conversions API (formerly Facebook server-to-server) allows brands and marketers to get a fuller understanding of their ad performance by providing data otherwise unavailable due to browser tracking prevention technology. Conversions API works with the Facebook Pixel to send data directly from a user’s server to Facebook’s ad platform, eliminating interference by blocked browser data. This allows for improved data collection and accuracy due to the absence of ad blockers and other information barriers present on web browsers. Conversions API leads to a more thorough understanding of ad performance and attribution, ultimately bettering opportunities to optimize creatives, targeting, and budget allocation.

The server-side API for web, designed to work on top of an existing Facebook initialization event code, allows advertisers and brands to track events across various channels. This enables a more holistic understanding of the customer purchase journey and leads to better informed strategies. Without the server-side solution, retailers are affected by limited retargeting audiences sizes, inaccurate measurement, and the inability to measure deep funnel events outside the browser.

What is a Server-Side API Solution and How Does It Work?

Facebook’s server-side API operates similarly to the browser pixel, except it eliminates interactions with the browser by passing information directly from one server to another. By omitting the web browser, server-side pixels are able to provide more accurate information regarding targeting and measurement while still obeying Facebook terms and restrictions.

This form of data sharing helps overcome challenges faced by browser pixels and enhances visualization of the omnichannel, multi-platform customer journey. The implementation of a server-side pixel allows brands to maximize their return on ad spend (ROAS) by means of increased visibility into customer events and interactions with their campaigns. In short, the ability to track user data is essential to advertisers and leads to better campaign performance.

How Can Brands and Marketers Leverage a Server-Side Solution?

Facebook’s server-side solution delivers benefits unmatched by a browser pixel, adding further layers of measurement and circumventing tracking prevention technology. Conversions API is a reliable solution for importing more customer data points directly into the Facebook Ads platform, allowing brands and marketers to optimize their ads and see bigger returns on their investment.

Brands and marketers looking to easily implement Facebook’s Conversions API should leverage Convertevent as a solution requiring minimal developer support and no maintenance.

How ConvertEvent drives results

Convertevent allows advertisers to send information through an alternative server-side route without custom development. By simplifying the implementation of Facebook’s Conversions API, brands can see more immediate results. This server-to-server API solution allows brands and marketers to grow their retargeting pools, increase event visibility, track deep funnel events, and enable better optimizations of ad campaigns.

Canadian sustainable clothing company tentree discovered an ability to maximize performance by adopting the Conversions API in addition to the Facebook pixel, resulting in a 12% increase in Facebook attribution and a 5% lower cost per action. For more details on how tentree achieved success, see its Facebook for Business case study.

For Royal Distributing, a leading powersports retailer, Convertevent results manifested as:

  • 40% larger retargeting audiences
  • 8.75% more purchase events from server-side pixel tracking
  • 40% increase in new customer acquisition revenue

See Facebook Marketing Partners’ case study showcasing Royal Distributing and Northern Commerce’s success using Conversions API here.

Implications of iOS 14 Updates and Conversion Tracking in 2021

The Apple iOS 14 update’s main hindrance on Facebook advertising lies in the inability to track a significant amount of users and their interactions with ads. Having less data visible to marketers results in less opportunities for information-based optimization. This is due to the software update’s incorporation of strict data privacy rules, especially for apps using advertising or analytics software development kits (SDKs). The rollout of iOS 14 will disrupt Facebook’s approach to advertising, impacting advertisers’ ability to collect and analyze data previously available to them.

In response to the iOS update, Facebook has released their Aggregated Event Measurement (AEM) protocol. This protocol allows only the highest priority events to be reported in a session with multiple user actions, affecting advertisers’ visibility on event progression. These updates will undoubtedly affect the manner in which Facebook advertisers measure and analyze ad performance, and those using the platform should prepare for ramifications as soon as possible.

Discover Our Custom Server-Side Solution Today

Implementing Facebook’s Conversions API through Convertevent allows more accurate analysis of ad performance and attribution, enabling significant optimizations and driving results. Leverage Convertevent and Facebook’s Conversions API for a fuller understanding of customer events and interactions with your ads. Contact us for a consultation today.