What do Facebook Ads iOS14 and SKAdnetwork changes mean for your campaigns?

Last updated: 30/10/20

This post is part of a series of posts called “How key mobile media channels are responding to iOS14 and SKAdnetwork: Everything you need to know in one place”. In this post we explore in detail how Facebook Ads are responding to Apple’s decision to make IDFA access opt-in for users. You can get detail we’ve put together for the other top iOS Self Attributing Networks (SANs) using the links below:

How significant is Facebook Ads iOS share of wallet?

To start, let’s look at how significant iOS spend is for Facebook Ads. We recently looked at ad spend by Operating System (OS) in a benchmark report of our customers. What we see for Facebook is that their advertisers marginally favour iOS, with 52% of spend on iOS versus 48% on Android.

Facebook Ads OS revenue split

When it comes to the overall iOS share of wallet, Facebook has by far the biggest share with 51%. This is 3x the next biggest spend share of Apple Search Ads (ASA) with 17%. 

Facebook Ads iOS share of wallet

For more information on iOS share of wallet, download our quarterly benchmark report.

Get the Report

What is Facebook doing about IDFA losses?

Buckle up, there’s a lot to get through here and information is changing regularly. With by far the most significant share of wallet on iOS in our customer base, it’s no surprise that Facebook has been fast out the gate and decisive in reacting to the iOS14 changes. Here’s the key points you need to know so far:

  • Firstly, they announced the nuclear option of no longer collecting IDFAs on their own apps for iOS14 devices.
  • When Apple delayed the IDFA opt-in requirement for iOS14, they announced that they will continue to collect IDFAs on iOS14 devices in their apps until the opt-in is required.
  • Facebook also announced they would be releasing a new version of their SDK to support iOS14. The new version of the Facebook SDK will provide support for Apple’s SKAdNetwork (SKAN) API and be released in Q1 2021.
  • Due to SKAdnetwork limitations there are likely to be restrictions on how many separate ad accounts can be used to run campaigns for iOS14 users, expect to hear more in November.
  • Advertisers will need to create standalone mobile app install campaigns targeting iOS14. There will be limits on the number of iOS14 campaigns and ad sets you can have due to SKAdnetwork limitations. This was originally announced as 9 campaigns with one ad set under each, but they updated in October that more detail will be shared in November.
  • In September it was announced that iOS14 campaigns can only be run through Ads Manager. Marketing API partners like Facebook Marketing Partners (FMPs – e.g. Smartly, Bidalgo) or proprietary internal tools that rely on the Marketing API will not be able to create or edit campaigns targeting iOS14 for now. There was no update on this in the October announcement, so assume it still stands for now.
  • Lookalike Audiences for iOS14 ad accounts will not be able to use Custom Audiences. They will be limited to creation from specific apps and app events.
  • The Facebook Audience Network (FAN) could well become less effective on iOS14 as a result of these changes, given its reliance on IDFAs. 
  • They announced that if you monetise using FAN then you will need to update to SDK version 6.0 or higher to support iOS14 monetisation and they’re also switching from a waterfall to header bidding model.
  • If you use the App Events API you will need to make changes in your app, which will be announced “in a future update”.
  • They shared that Facebook Ads reporting (Ads Manager, Ads Reporting, Insights API) will rely on SKAN. Within this, reporting at the ad set, campaign and account level will match results returned by the SKAN API. However, reporting at the ad level will be modeled based on aggregated data received from the SKAN API. The only exception being when there is only one ad in a campaign.
  • They also highlighted some reporting limitations as a result of their reliance on the SKAN API for iOS14:
    • No 1 day, 7 day or 28 day click-through or view-through attribution window breakdowns.
    • No reporting support at the creative level if you use multiple creatives within an ad.
    • No support for breakdowns of age, gender, region, placement etc. for app install or post-install event metrics.
    • No support for real-time data. Data will be several days delayed.
    • No support for impression time or conversion time reporting. Reporting will show the time the data is returned through the SKAN API.
  • In October Facebook announced that they are working with Mobile Measurement Partners (MMPs – e.g. Adjust, Appsflyer) to support interoperability of SKAdNetwork through either Facebook or MMP SDKs. This work is ongoing and they will provide an update as the solution is finalised. In October they had said they would share SKAN data with MMPs, where permission is given via Business Manager, via the Ad Insights API for all iOS14 Mobile App Install (MAI) campaigns. However, they said they were still exploring how to support advertisers that use only the MMP SDKs for other non-app-install iOS14 objectives, AEO and Value Optimisation (VO). This is likely what they are trying to finalise a solution for right now.

Key reading:

Facebook for Business iOS14 announcement (Outdated)

Facebook’s updated announcement on iOS14

Facebook Audience Network iOS14 announcement

Facebook Accelerates Plans To Go Bidding Only For Audience Network Due To IDFA Changes

Eric Seufert’s analysis of Facebook’s iOS14 advertiser announcements (Outdated)

What does it mean for your Facebook campaigns?

If you rely on Facebook to drive a significant volume of iOS downloads there’s quite a bit of work to be done to prepare for iOS14. Here’s some of the key things to consider for this new world:

  • Facebook iOS14 campaign structure: You’re going to need to start thinking about your campaign structure to fit to likely limitations imposed by SKAdnetwork. If we assume for now that you will be limited to 9 iOS14 campaigns as they announced before and these will be one-to-one with ad sets. You’ll need to think about the most important objectives and targeting for each app’s iOS14 ad account, then structure around that. For many this will require serious consolidation vs your non-iOS14 campaigns and potentially a corresponding loss in performance with more generic targeting.
  • Lookalike Audiences: If you rely on Custom Audiences to create Lookalike Audiences that drive iOS downloads you’re going to have some work to do. For iOS14 targeting you can’t use Custom Audiences to create Lookalike Audiences of high value users. You need to find new ways of identifying those high value users from the in-app events that they execute. You may have already analysed what these actions are in partnership with your product team for AEO campaigns or you may need to execute this analysis. Either way, you will need to create iOS14 Lookalike Audiences from users who execute those actions, so Facebook can look to find more potentially high value users like them. Depending on your product type, you may end up with more generic targeting here. It may be that those high-value actions are broadly executed and user-level data was more valuable than in-app actions in identifying whales. In which case, you will need to factor in potentially reduced returns from lookalike targeting on iOS14 post-IDFA losses.
  • Facebook Audience Network (FAN): If you’re advertising on the Facebook Audience Network you may want to consider opting out for iOS14 before Apple release the new IDFA opt-in functionality. Facebook themselves seem pretty downbeat on the likely performance you can expect on FAN in a world without IDFAs, and FAN might become redundant on iOS14. You may want to reinvest this iOS14 budget elsewhere.
  • Tech stack: There’s now some key considerations to make with your tech stack for Facebook Ads campaigns:
    • MMPs: Be aware that using the MMP SDK will still require permission in the same way the use of IDFAs will. This is part of the App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework from Apple, so you may lose visibility on some users if using the MMP SDK. There’s likely to be a few categories you might fall into here with iOS campaigns:
      • You use the MMP SDK and only run MAI campaigns: You can stick with the MMP SDK as Facebook will definitely share SKAN data as long as you’ve given your MMP permissions via Business Manager.
      • You use the Facebook SDK and run MAI and AEO campaigns: Again there’s no need for any changes here as MAI and AEO campaigns will continue to be supported via the Facebook SDK.
      • You use the MMP SDK and run other non-app-install objectives and/or AEO campaigns: It sounds like a solution will be released (hopefully before Apple implement changes), however, no support has been announced via the MMP SDKs. For now it’s likely best to wait and see, but as we get closer to Apple’s implementation of the changes you might want to consider switching to the Facebook SDK.
    • FMPs: If you’re relying on an FMP or have a proprietary internal tool which use the Facebook Marketing API to run campaigns, then you need to keep an eye on Facebook’s announcements about FMP support. At the moment we assume iOS14 campaigns will need to be run natively. Assuming there are no more announcements about FMP support you will need to take some action prior to IDFA losses in iOS14:
        • Switch-off iOS14 targeting: In your FMP or proprietary tool you will need to switch-off any iOS14 targeting to avoid issues.
        • Manage iOS14 campaigns natively: You will need to create and manage iOS14 campaigns natively in Facebook Ads Manager via the new campaign creation process for now.
  • Delayed data: SKAdnetwork delays data to maintain anonymity, so you will no longer have real-time iOS14 data. In fact, you may have to wait a few days to understand iOS14 performance on Facebook. Avoid making knee jerk reactions to iOS14 performance on Facebook after Apple implements these changes. It may be that if you give it a day or two for all data to come through then performance will level out. Also, be aware that timestamps will simply indicate when the data was received from SKAN, not when the conversion or download occurred.
  • View-through attribution and performance: Without it, your return will appear to drop from channels like Facebook who typically report stronger when using view-through attribution. Also, Facebook algorithms will take time to adjust to a world where they have to optimise without IDFA’s. Expect a learning period, and consider switching investment to Android campaigns in the short-term if campaigns aren’t maxed out. Otherwise, prepare for a rollercoaster time for a period.

Concluding thoughts

This change clearly places some constraints on your iOS14 Facebook campaigns. However, this isn’t apocalyptic, it’s simply a case of adjusting campaigns for this new world. There are still returns and users for you on Facebook if there are today.

There are going to be reporting challenges as SKAN limits granularity and makes fair evaluation of full-funnel performance across device types and channels harder. Here at Appsumer this kind of data complexity is what we thrive on. We aggregate data from across the mobile advertising ecosystem and normalise it to automate unified performance insights for mobile UA experts. As we pull data from SANs, DSPs, Ad Networks, Agencies, TV Ads providers, MMPs,  Analytics tools, App Stores and internal sources we’re working with our customers to automate unified performance reports with a single view of performance across Android, older versions of iOS and SKAdnetwork data. If you’d like to learn more, get in touch and we’d be happy to explore solutions for you iOS14 headaches!

For now, give us a shout if you have any questions and check back here as we update this resource when more announcements are made in the coming months 👋

P.S. Don’t forget you can get more detail that we’ve put together by media channel using these links: