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

What do Facebook Ads iOS14 and SKAdnetwork changes mean for your campaigns?
October 20, 2020 Simon Whittick

Last updated: 29/01/21

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:

  • After initially sharing they wouldn’t use the ATT prompt in their own apps, they later changed their mind and decided to collect IDFAs on iOS14 devices in their apps using the ATT prompt.
  • They released v8.1 of the Facebook SDK providing support for Apple’s SKAdNetwork (SKAN) API. However, if your app uses Facebook Login there will be another update coming you need to implement that protects users who login via Facebook but opt-out of letting their IDFA be used.
  • Due to SKAdnetwork limitations you will be limited to one ad account per app for app install campaigns for iOS14 users. For iOS14 there will be a limit  of 9 active campaigns per app and 5 ad sets per campaign of the same optimisation type.
  • You will be able to run Mobile App Install (MAI) and App Event Optimisation (AEO) optimised campaigns with Value Optimisation (VO) support expected “in the weeks following” Apple’s ATT implementation. For AEO campaigns all 14 event types will be supported, but you must be registered to use the SKAdNetwork API and have implemented the ConversionValue() bits using the Facebook SDK, a supported Mobile Measurement Partner, or manually.
  • If you use the App Events API and do not have the Facebook SDK installed you will need to support Apple’s SKAdNetwork API to be able to run app install campaigns and will need to configure their own conversion schema for AEO and VO. Support will be released in Events Manager soon for advertisers to self-report SKAN implementation and define their conversion schema.
  • 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 6.2.1 to support iOS14 monetisation and they’re also switching from a waterfall to header bidding model.
  • They shared that Facebook Ads reporting (Ads Manager, Ads Reporting, Insights API) will rely on SKAN. Within this, reporting at the account and campaign level will match results returned by the SKAN API. However, reporting at the ad set and ad level will be modelled based on aggregated campaign data received from the SKAN API. 
  • 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 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.
  • Facebook  are working with Mobile Measurement Partners (MMPs – e.g. Adjust, Appsflyer, Branch, Kochava) 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. 

Key reading:

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

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 the limitations imposed by SKAdnetwork. You will be limited to 9 iOS14 campaigns with 5 ad sets in each of the same optimisations type. You’ll need to think about the most important objectives and targeting for each campaign, 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.
  • Measurement: The good news here is that it seems very likely that you will have full support via your existing MMP as Facebook are being very open about their continued desire to support measurement via MMPs. There should be more coming out on implementation here shortly, but assume it won’t be a problem.
  • 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.
  • Fluctuating performance: Your returns could 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’re building the most complete SKAdNetwork Reporting & Modelling solution to deliver you transparency on different metrics and a full performance view despite SKAdNetwork’s limitations. You can read more on that here or get in touch to discuss specific solutions for your challenges.

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 month.

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