Unless you’ve recently taken up residence under a rock, you’ve probably heard rumblings of Apple and their iOS 14 update. This update prioritises users’ privacy by restricting the access that apps and websites have to personal data that is used for tracking, targeting and personalising ads.
The gist of it is this: Apple’s iOS 14 update is going to make it easier for visitors to opt out of personalised ads and is going to restrict the quality and quantity of data available to us as marketers to help us market and promote our competitions via ads.
In this post, we’ll give you a run down on what we know so far about how the iOS 14 changes will affect competitions and keep the post updated with any further developments as they happen.
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What we know so far about the iOS 14 update, competitions and Facebook ads.
Whilst Apple have detailed an outline of the changes on their developer site, the rollout is still slated to take effect ‘later this year’ according to the page.
That means that until the changes are live across all users on iOS 14, we’re unable to know the full extent of the impact on opt-in rates of iOS users and the impact on the data Apple is willing (or unwilling) to share with us.
Here’s what we know so far about the iOS changes that will directly impact Facebook advertising for your competition…
- “Your pixel may only optimise for a maximum of eight conversion events for each domain.”
Translation? You can only run ads that track or encourage conversion from one action to another for up to eight total conversion actions on your website. In the context of competitions, for example, a conversion event may be when someone enters your competition – tracked by their journey from competition landing page visitor to competition thank you page visitor. These eight conversion events will only be tracked if the user opts in to tracking. This shouldn’t be an issue for competitions, as eight conversion events is more than enough for a standard web-based competition.
- “Real-time reporting will not be supported and data may be delayed up to three days.”
This means that instead of being able to see your visitors’ and entrants’ actions and data same day (i.e. real-time), you could be waiting up to 3 days to see the results of your competition ads.
This could go either way for competitions. The types of budgets and strategies used for competitions usually need a couple of days to gather enough data to make intelligent decisions and changes to ads based on user actions, but on the other hand, waiting 3 days to find out if an image or piece of copy is performing poorly could be painful…
- “…delivery and action breakdowns, such as age, gender, region and placement will not be supported.”
What does this mean? Historically, Facebook gives a breakdown of your ad’s performance based on the age, gender and region of those that see your ad and data around how each ad placement performs. So you could, for example, run an ad across all available placements (i.e. news feed, messenger, audience network etc), then check which ones are driving the most conversions to entries and turn off the placements that are not driving conversions to entry, redirecting budget to the placements that convert. Under iOS 14’s new rules, you won’t have access to this granular information. The consequences for your competition? You’ll live. Yes, it’s useful to have this information to make decisions and optimise your budget, but there is other reporting that is arguably far more valuable and will still be available plus Google Analytics should still be able to provide you a breakdown of page visitor demographics for age, gender and region if you miss it that much in ads manager.
The biggest changes in iOS 14.
The big changes in iOS 14, which still remain the biggest question marks, until the changes are rolled out will be…
- “As more people opt out of tracking on iOS 14 devices, the size of your app connections, app activity Custom Audiences and website Custom Audiences may decrease.”
This one’s a bummer as we love leveraging custom audiences in our competition ads. Note that it doesn’t say custom audiences will disappear as such, just that they may be reduced and with reduced reach, comes less data. Boo.
- “As more devices update to iOS 14, the size of your retargeting audiences may decrease.”
Again, this one sucks. Retargeting is incredibly handy when you want to run ads that just speak to those who landed on your competition entry landing page, but didn’t enter your competition (i.e. didn’t visit your competition entry thank you page). Again, this doesn’t say these types of ads will be unavailable, just that the size of these audiences may decrease.
The above information and direct quotes are from Facebook’s How Apple’s iOS 14 release may affect your ads help page, which is the best source of information for Facebook ad impacts, straight from the horse’s mouth.
Google have not been quite as vocal about the changes as Facebook, they’ve simply armed their developers with instructions on how to prepare for iOS 14 from a technical standpoint and have said they’ll continue to meet advertiser’s needs for app campaigns on iOS, but other than that, I can only assume they’re taking a wait and see approach rather than panicking before we know what there is to panic about…
You’ll still be able to run ads for your competition.
These changes, despite how dramatic some may be about them, do not mean the death of ads for your competitions and giveaways. Not at all. We’ll still be able to run ads, we’ll just have to be smarter about how we do it.
Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing…
The changes mentioned above just mean we’ll potentially have smaller audiences to target our competition ads to if opt-outs become the norm; and we’ll have access to fewer data points to help us make decisions about our ads, audiences and creative, through losing reporting tools such as breakdowns.
Though again, it remains to be seen what the knock-on effects will be; it seems as though the vast majority of these changes will affect apps and app install campaigns as opposed to web conversion campaigns like competitions.
The difference between owned data and third party paid data.
Speaking to another marketer recently, we agreed that 2021 is shaping up to be the year of owned data.
WHAT IS OWNED DATA?
Owned data is – as the name implies – data that you wholly own and are free to use for marketing or promotion without gaining additional permissions, access or paying additional fees for.
The perfect example of this? An email list.
When a person subscribes to your email list, they voluntarily give you identifying pieces of information such as their name and email address; and by subscribing to your list, understand that they will receive marketing communication from you.
An example would be: I have recently got engaged, I start to look for potential venues for my upcoming wedding, find a place I’d like to know more about and sign up to their mailing list. That venue may ask me at the time of sign up, what my name is, what my email address is and the date of my wedding. They then own this data I have given freely to them to market their venue and services to me.
WHAT IS THIRD PARTY PAID DATA?
Ads, by contrast, rely on third-party, paid data to reach the right people. Facebook collect data about their users (Facebook own that data if it is given expressly to Facebook by the user) and use it to earn money by allowing third parties to leverage this data to reach people whose data they do not own themselves.
For example, I provide information to Facebook about my recent engagement. A wedding venue runs ads for their wedding packages on Facebook and Facebook uses what it knows about me and my marital status to show me ads about that venue.
The venue has no idea who I am, they have no way of finding out my name, email or wedding date unless I click on their ad and fill out my details on their site.
WHY DOES IT MATTER?
This kind of third party, paid data can be a grey area in terms of privacy and preference of the user. In this example above, Facebook has used information I have given to them along with assumptions about my demographics from the data it collects about me through the apps I use and the sites I visit, to personalise my ads.
Let’s be honest, it’s as creepy as it is clever what Facebook can do just by tracking what I’m up to, what I fill out on my profile and what I post or click on.
The problem, is that I never actively gave my consent for companies like Facebook to do that. By being able to identify my actions and connect data to me as an individual user, they are able to make money by charging people who don’t have my data to personalise ads to me that are likely to get my business.
Whilst personalisation may result in a better user experience (after all, if I’m a cat person, I don’t want to see ads for dog treats…), as well as higher click through rates and more purchases, it doesn’t exactly prioritise the privacy of the user.
It is precisely this grey area that Apple’s iOS 14 changes are looking to address. iOS 14 wants to give me back my right to opt in or out of being tracked.
Facebook ads are fantastic for reaching new audiences and driving traffic to your website, but one thing these iOS 14 changes have highlighted, is the importance of capturing that data for yourself once they reach your website. So continue to run ads for your competitions, just be sure to collect that all important data for yourself… with consent of course!
Worried about the iOS 14 changes? Don’t be.
As I said at the start of this post, we won’t know what the full impacts of the iOS 14 changes for Facebook ads and competition ads will be until they’re completely rolled out sometime this year.
We’re not worried about the changes. Smart marketers know how to use the data they have to get the results they need and reach the people to whom they can make a difference. Keep testing, keep interrogating your data and keep trialling new ways of promoting your competition to work out what exactly the changes will mean for you and your business.
Whilst the changes will impact the quantity and quality of data we’ll have at our disposal to run ads for our competitions, the fact is we still will be able to run ads. We’ll just have to be a little smarter about how we do it. Another way we have to be smart in the wake of the iOS changes, is ensuring we’re not relying solely on third party paid ads to reach our audience – once they’re on your site, collect the data for yourself (with permission), so you won’t be at the mercy of future changes such as these.