Walker Hill Group

How Apple’s iOS14 update will impact your Facebook Ads

The recent privacy changes that Apple has made within the new iOS14 update that is currently rolling out on iPhones, will have the biggest impact to account performance since the advertising platform was launched. 

Ultimately, what the new iOS update will do, is opt users out of any advertising tracking on their phones by default, significantly limiting the amount of data that is sent back to Facebook from advertising campaigns.

Over the past few weeks, our team has been meeting with Facebook to understand how this will impact our clients accounts and although Facebook still doesn’t know the full extent, this is what we know so far.

What We Know

Conversion Tracking will be limited

This will be the most noticeable impact in the short term, as iPhones won’t be sending back data to Facebook about conversions. This means that although you will still be seeing sales/leads coming through from your website, they will not be recorded within the campaign so the cost per conversion (CPA) will rise making the results of the campaigns look much worse than they actually are. 

This will also provide challenges for optimising campaigns as typically, ads that have a higher CPA and are underperforming would usually be turned off.

Attribution window is shorter

Standard Facebook campaign attribution was previously 28 day click and 1 day view. Meaning that anyone that clicked or viewed an ad within these periods would be attributed the conversion. 

This would allow advertisers to understand which ads had an impact on the website visitors taking the action they were optimising the campaign for. 

The new attribution is now 7 day click, providing much less data on who is engaging with ads and then converting. 

For example, if someone clicked on an ad, continued their research process and then returned to purchase 14 days later, this will not be tracked as a conversion through your Facebook campaigns (even though they originally located your brand through the ads!)

This will also have an impact on the overall reporting, providing a lower volume of conversion and higher CPA compared to what was previously reported. 

Attribution to date of conversion not click

Another change to attribution is that conversions will now be attributed to the date of the actual conversion action occurring on the website. Although this will not impact the volume of conversions or CPA reported, it has an impact on how campaigns can be optimised. 

Remarketing lists will be smaller

You would have found that remarketing campaigns will always be your best performing campaigns, as people within these audiences are more familiar with your brand due to having previously visited your website. 

With the new iOS update, users on iPhones will no longer be included in these audiences, which will impact the amount of people you can run retargeting ads to. 

Lookalike Audiences will have less data points to build from

A lookalike audience is an audience that Facebook creates using data points from your selected ‘seed’ audience, providing you with a whole new audience of people that display similar behaviours/properties as the seed. 

For example, you may want to find more people that “look like” people who have made a purchase from your website within the past 90 days. 

As limited data will be provided back from iPhone users, these seed audiences will be smaller which will limit the effectiveness of the newly created Lookalike audience.

This will also negatively impact the ability to scale up campaigns as Lookalikes have previously been a core strategy for finding new customers to scale. 

Facebook’s Algorithm will overall be less effective 

The most powerful asset the Facebook Ads platform has is its ability to use the data of its users to deliver ads to who is likely to take the action that the campaign is optimised for. 

The algorithm uses countless data points across not only Facebook’s suite of platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Messenger & WhatsApp) but also, all the websites and apps that have the Facebook pixel installed for their own measurement purposes. 

The introduction of the iOS update will severely limit the ability for Facebook to collect data from users, which will ultimately limit how effective the algorithm can do its job. 

What We Will Be Doing To Combat This

From research and discussions with the Facebook partners team, we will be taking the following actions to help limit the impact this update will have on our client’ advertising accounts:

Verification of Domains

Verifying domains has previously been an option on Facebook but had not had an impact on campaign performance. Facebook is now strongly advising all domains should now be verified. We suspect this is due to adding more trust signals to Apple that the websites that the ads are sending traffic to are legit. 

Reviewing performance on iOS vs non iOS devices 

By monitoring performance on iOS vs non it will help us to understand what the overall conversion rate and cost per conversion so we can then map out expected overall performance of a campaign is. 

This will allow us to continue to perform campaign optimisation using more data than what the Ads platform will be providing. 

Use Facebook Lead Forms rather than website forms where possible

As lead forms live natively on the Facebook platform we recommend using this option over website forms for collecting leads and emails as they will provide full performance data. 

This will allow for campaigns to be optimised as usual without any impact. 

When running Facebook lead forms campaigns, we highly recommend including a number of pre-qualifying questions in the form. 

From our experience, if you do not include these the quality of the leads will be much lower as there is less barrier to submit the form than on a typical website form. 

Use 1st party data to create Lookalike Audiences

As we won’t be able to rely on Pixel data to create strong Lookalikes, we will move a focus to create them using first party data such as email databases. 

Due to this it will be extremely important to have a strong email collection strategy in place to maximise the effectiveness of these lookalike audiences. 

Provide more offers on the top level ads

As we cannot rely on Facebook users seeing remarketing ads, we recommend showing offers that were previously saved for users further down the funnel in top level ads. 

For example, if we are currently running a 10% discount to anyone that has been to the website within the past 30 days and not converted, we recommend running this to prospecting audiences as well as the 30 day audience may not receive the offer. 


Apple has really created a challenge for advertisers with this latest update. The lack of reporting data and limitations on the effectiveness of the algorithm are going to have negative impacts for  all advertisers on the platform. 

Facebook is currently working extremely hard to limit this impact and providing us a lot of advice on how to ensure campaigns can perform at the highest level possible. 

With the implementation of the above strategies, we are extremely confident that we can continue to deliver highly profitable campaigns for our clients. 

We will continue to adapt as always to the ever-changing online marketing world! 

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