The Growing Pains Of Meta’s iOS 14.5+ For Advertisers

data privacy and advertising

Since the official rollout Apple’s App Tracking Transparency feature in April 2021, and the implications Meta (Facebook) was forced to implement, direct to consumer advertisers are seeing the biggest impact, especially those whose primary sales rely on Meta.

According to the NYTimes in September 2021, “more than 80 percent of iPhone users have opted out of tracking worldwide, according to ad tech firms.”

So what does this mean for DTC companies? 

Pixel technology is outdated, and custom audiences, which prior to the privacy changes use to pave the way for finding high-quality users through lookalike targeting, have dropped off in performance.  

Meta confirmed that at minimum 15% of total sales are being underreported, and DTC brands leaning into prospecting efforts are most likely seeing an even larger percentage loss of data. 

Meta has become a less reliable platform for attribution, and the analytics are less informative, leaving a lot of room for estimating performance. We no longer have a breakdown of audience segmentation such as demographic details, geography, devices, placements and platforms. 

Meta’s solutions to the great data loss is modeled conversions, which uses aggregated data where conversions may be “impartial or missing.” However, the solution does come with additional problems—such as waiting at least 72 hours (or wait or the full optimization window of 7-days) before analyzing performance. As direct response marketers, this inhibits advertisers from effectively optimizing in real-time, as premature optimizations can lead to incorrect campaign changes. 

More Creative For Less People

Additionally, since the attribution window shortened post the iOS 14.5 updates, we’re seeing fluctuations in creative learnings, leading us to believe that creative optimizations are also being negatively impacted. With a shorter attribution window and a smaller audience pool available for targeting, comes a shorter lifespan for creative. 

It’s more important than ever to invest in quality creative, as this is becoming a bigger factor in whether or not advertisers are seeing success. 

Top Three Things To Consider With Meta’s Data Changes

  1. Diversify Channel Mix. For DTC brands whose budget is aggressively banked on Meta advertising, we recommend shifting some of the budget to Google or new test channels, like TikTok who reached 1 billion monthly active users, or focus on SMS and programmatic display. However, it’s important to note that despite Meta’s current issues, we don’t recommend completely reducing spend, as there is yet to be a channel that can compete with Facebook’s reach and engagement. 
  2. Implement Tracking Best Practice. Now more than ever, utilize UTM tracking, and other internal methods of tracking to help close the data gap.
  3. Use Server-Side Events. Advertisers who only have Meta’s pixel implemented, are completely blind towards iOS 14.5+ users who opt-out of tracking. This could mean more than 80% of total iOS users, Through Conversion API, advertisers can pass data directly from servers to Meta, offering full-funnel visibility. 

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