The highly anticipated Apple iOS 14 privacy updates are coming in hot, after some delay. In summer 2020, Apple announced that the new iOS 14 would include a one-time prompt on all apps that show and measure ads based on data from third-party sites and apps. Apps such as Facebook will be required to disclose the information they track and ask users’ permission to track their activity across other company’s websites.

This is a huge deal for Facebook, whose advertising model is based off of user data collected from across the internet. It’s also a big deal for anyone who advertises on Facebook, since the targeting capabilities and data collection will be impacted.

Facebook has pushed back heavily on this update, as they anticipate that many users will begin to opt out of tracking, now that they will be expressly asked if they want to. But Apple made it clear that if Facebook (or any other app, for that matter) doesn’t comply with this update, they will be removed from the App Store. So obviously, Facebook is cooperating and has made updates to their data modeling to try to make up for the lost data from Apple.

What will be affected?

The major changes for Facebook and its advertisers will come in the form of conversion data and audience targeting and data within Ads Manager, Ads Reporting, and the Ads Insights API.

Conversion tracking

  • 28-day attribution of any kind will no longer be supported
  • 7-day view-through attribution will no longer be supported
  • 7-day click attribution will still exist
  • Only one Facebook Pixel may be associated with any given domain or app, and that domain must be verified through Facebook
  • Only 8 conversion actions will be allowed to be associated with a Pixel. Any ad optimizations created for a conversion action that is not approved for a domain will result in the campaign’s ad set being permanently turned off.

Audience targeting

  • Remarketing lists will be severely restricted, as many iOS14 users will likely opt out of third-party tracking.
  • Audience targeting by interest will also be impacted for the same reason.
  • Campaign performance data can no longer be broken down by demographics or geography.

What’s the long-term impact?

It’s important to note that while much of the commotion right now is swirling around Facebook, this will affect every other app with a similar advertising model. Interestingly enough, Google will not have to use the iOS 14 privacy prompt in its Apple apps, since it doesn’t rely on third-party data—the tracking Google does is all within the Google environment (Gmail, Maps, YouTube, Search, etc.).

This is likely just the beginning of the next wave of privacy protocols across devices and operating systems. Advertisers need to be informed of the changes coming and understand how it will impact their data and campaigns. Aside from a handful of modifications, there’s not much we can do other than adjust to this constantly changing technology (go ahead and update attribution windows to 7-day) and double down on best practices (think: UTM tags). As digital marketers, we should be pretty used to that by now.