Facebook explains the ramifications of Apple’s data tracking update and offers advice on how brands may boost their ad performance.
Apple’s contentious App Tracking Transparency (ATT) update appears to be having a significant impact on Facebook, with The Social Network noting some of the specific ways in which the new privacy prompts have impeded ad reporting today.
Apple unveiled its new data tracking pop-up notifications in April, allowing iOS users to opt-in to monitoring their behavior within each app.
Apple has allowed its users to opt out of data tracking, but they are not doing it.
With the prompts providing the option and multiple news articles regarding data abuse and leaks, it seems likely that many people will choose to disable data tracking as a result. Although exact data aren’t available, surveys suggest that the vast majority of iOS users opt-out of tracking, a figure that has apparently declined slightly over time but remains well above the 60% mark.
As a result, advertisers have fewer data to work with. For example, before this change, if you clicked on an ad that sent you to an app and then bought anything in that app, the advertiser could track that and target you with more relevant ads in the future.
Due to the ATT launch, this is no longer achievable, at least not at the same rate.
Facebook was one of the hardest hits, as it lost access to a wide range of tracking data used to power a component of its targeting engine.
Facebook claims that: “We expected larger headwinds from platform changes, particularly the recent iOS updates, to have a greater impact in the third quarter than in the second, as we highlighted on our earnings call in July. Many of you, we’re sure, are feeling the same way we are.”
Facebook’s inability to track conversions is a problem.
The most significant implication for Facebook is conversion reporting: because it can no longer track conversions, Facebook has attempted to develop a new system that estimates activity based on system learning.
So far, their predictions have failed to materialize:
“We estimate we are underreporting iOS online conversions by roughly 15% on average; however, individual marketers’ conversion rates vary greatly. Real-world conversions, such as sales and app installations, we feel, are higher than many advertisements claim.”
This has a significant impact on Facebook marketers because you can’t know what’s working unless you get accurate conversion data.
Facebook ads are not transparent.
Most large advertisers and agencies are figuring out how to combat this by supplementing their Facebook data with data from Google Analytics and other platforms, but it has a significant impact, especially on smaller brands that don’t have the analytics know-how or capacity to double-check the information provided by Facebook.
For many, this simply means they’re seeing fewer conversions and don’t know why. If, for example, those advertisers chose to spend their money elsewhere, this might be a massive problem for Facebook. And, with TikTok still on the rise and set to go this holiday season, it could be a turning point in the short-form video app’s history.
To address this, Facebook is working on several data prediction and estimation-based technologies that will provide modeled conversion statistics to help present a more accurate view of ad effectiveness.
Marketing the Facebook way.
“Our multi-year effort to develop new privacy-enhancing technologies that limit the amount of personal data we collect while still allowing us to deliver targeted adverts and measure their efficacy has been encouraging.”
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Facebook is working on it, but it’s still in the works, so the ATT upgrade will significantly impact reporting during the holiday season.
As a result, Facebook has issued various advice to help advertisers mitigate the effects — and, presumably, continue to spend money on Facebook advertising as a result.
Some of Facebook’s most notable hints are as follows:
Allow time for systems to react before making changes to unsuccessful advertisements, according to Facebook. “Given the complications of delayed data and modeled reporting, wait at least 72 hours or the whole length of the optimization window before assessing results for conversion-optimized campaigns.” Because Facebook’s strategy is based on ‘learning’ optimum performance triggers and the kind of people who respond to each ad, collecting response data takes time to optimize response.
We are in this for the long haul.
During the learning phase, follow recommended methods to assist the distribution system in determining the best way to distribute your ads — This, too, is controlled by the passage of time — According to Facebook’s ‘Learning Phase’ best practices, it takes roughly 50 optimization events spread out over seven days for Facebook’s ad matching technology to have a thorough picture of the best response to your ad, which will then help Facebook enhance ad delivery in the future. As shown in the graph below, performance is less consistent during the early ‘learning period,’ when Facebook’s systems determine which types of people respond to your ads, but this reduces over time, and your CPA will level off. According to the company, following Facebook’s learning phase technique is more important than ever in the current situation.
Set up the Conversions API:
The Conversions API helps create a direct link between website events and Facebook, which may help mitigate the effects of ATT. “By incorporating the Conversions API into your existing setup, you will be able to optimize your ad campaigns, reduce cost per action, and more precisely assess campaign outcomes while maintaining the same privacy,” says Facebook.
Furthermore, Facebook advises marketers to investigate all available methods for measuring campaign effectiveness, including those that aren’t directly tied to Facebook but can enhance your campaign data. Most specialized marketers are already establishing new models that incorporate multiple data sources to provide a more realistic image of campaign efficacy based on various measures, as previously stated.
Brands need to find out which tools work best for them.
Non-specialists face the challenge of determining which tools function best, requiring expertise and insight beyond Facebook itself. This is obviously not ideal for Facebook, which cannot provide the full breadth of the functionality on a single platform, but it is critical for marketers who want to track their success to understand that their Facebook performance data will be impacted, and you must account for this in your measurement.
Facebook provides extra advice and notes throughout its effect analysis, making it an excellent read for those planning their Christmas marketing approach.
We’re still learning about the full consequences of the ATT change and how marketers might work around it, and with more privacy changes on the way, expect more similar repercussions in the future.