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How IOS 14.5 ATT impacts Facebook Ads & Attribution

Yann A. Skaalen

4-5 min read


Apple Release Of iOS 14.5 with App Tracking Transparency (ATT)

On Monday april 26th., 2021 Apple released an update to their operating system for mobile devices called iOS 14.5. It’s the first iOS version that will enforce Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) policies, which will do two major things:

  • Help Apple users be more in control of when and with whom they share their browsing data with
  • Significantly impact how marketers measure mobile ad performance moving forward.

What’s Coming Next?

Apple’s mail will block invisible email trackers

Apple Putting a Stop to Email Tracking Pixels With Mail Privacy Protection in iOS 15 and macOS Monterey.

When enabled, Mail Privacy Protection hides your IP address and loads all remote content privately in the background, routing it through multiple proxy services and randomly assigning an IP address.

...and Google May Follow in Apple’s Footsteps

A Google spokesperson confirmed that Google is indeed considering similar features for blocking IP addresses.

New features available with iOS 15

App Privacy Report

A section in Settings lets you see how often apps have accessed your location, photos, camera, microphone, and contacts during the last seven days. It also shows you which apps have contacted other domains and how recently they have contacted them. This is a good complement to an app’s privacy label, so you can be sure you’re comfortable with how it’s treating your privacy.8

Users of iOS 14.5+ Now Decide Who They Share Their Data With

In iOS 14.5 and following iOS releases, Apple disables any app on the device from using the IDFA (your unique ID that advertising networks, such as Google and Facebook) and collect data related to your online behavior, such as purchases, apps and websites you use, etc. With your unique IDFA they will then be able to show you ads from marketeers that wish to target people with an online profile like yours.

This means a company like Facebook can still track users within its own app without requesting permission. It can also track users across Instagram, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp because these apps are all housed under the same company/developer.

However, Facebook can no longer track users’ activity in Safari, Chrome or YouTube without asking for permission from users through ATT.

How will the iOS 14.5 ATT update impact Facebook advertisers?

The main challenge for advertisers, going forward, is

  1. their inability to track users across APPs on iOS devices makes their “behavioral targeting” and “remarketing” advertising products weaker.
  2. advertisers lose the ability to attribute conversions to earlier interactions taking place in other apps or websites.

E.g. Facebook will not be able to see your behavior in Chrome, Safari, other iOS apps, only your behavior in their own Facebook and Instagram APP.

Facebook Conversion API Can Track Your iOS Facebook campaigns

Facebook already has one workaround for cookieless browsers that you can start using right away.

The Conversion API allows you to share user event data (actions) directly from your server to Facebook’s. This server-to-server data exchange sends data directly from your website to Facebook without touching the browser so any changes to cookies and browser-based tracking are irrelevant.

See Facebook Conversion API

Important: Using Facebooks Conversion API will send your website conversion data (server side) to your Facebook Ad Manager and not your analytics tool, so your analytics data will not be fixed using this solution.

What To Do – Facebook Ad Tracking in iOS 14.5
Audience size will decrease

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.

Facebook ads with conversion events inside your app
  • Create a separate ad account for ads associated with one or more of your business apps. You can not use the same ad account for apps and website conversions.
  • Each app can only have 9 active campaigns at any one time.
  • Each campaign is limited to 5 ad sets of the same optimization type. It is not possible to have variations in optimization type in the same campaign.
Facebook Ad Campaigns with website conversions
  • You can only create up to 8 unique conversion events per website domain. Conversion tracking is only possible on campaign level and no longer on ad-group, or ad-level. So you will not know your individual ad performance but need to optimize ads based on your campaign performance.

For more details, visit Facebook Help Center

How to track Facebook ads iOS 14 with Digtective?

As one of the currently very few server-side conversion tracking platforms, Digtective helps SaaS, eCommerce, and Agencies bypass the global issue of conversion and ad attribution data loss, caused by the “third-party cookie” block in Apple iOS 14.5 ATT, cookie banners etc.

Digtective is using a URL variable to track ad conversions, similar to Google’s UTM code. The difference is that Digtective does not use the third-party cookie but connects directly to your website server, your Facebook and Google ad accounts, thereby tracking 100% of your conversions regardless of cookie blockers, Apple iOS ATT, and any future measures of cookie tracking limitations.

Since Digtective is NOT using the third-party cookie, you are at no risk of collecting any privacy data. Better tracking, data privacy compliance, and all your marketing data in one place.