How Facebook’s Forced Changes will Challenge Marketers & How You Can Adapt

Erin Stafford - Head of Social Media at Agora Agency / KLYP

2021 has very quickly shown social media marketers that this business is volatile. Through a series of Facebook webinars, marketers globally learned how their campaigns would need to very quickly adapt to Ads Manager changes forced by Apple’s iOS14 Privacy Policy. If you haven’t already heard, these changes are significant and impact all businesses advertising on Facebook and Instagram, particularly those in eCommerce. After implementing a number of changes to internal and client accounts, I am ready to share some insights into what is changing, how your business can adapt and what opportunities could come from this. 

In short, Apple has announced a new iOS 14 AppTrackingTransparency framework, requiring apps (including Facebook and Instagram) to show a discouraging prompt when users click through to a third-party website (ie. your own website). This prompt will ask users to agree or decline to their movements being tracked across the website they’re attempting to visit. The users’ decision will determine to which degree your tracking abilities will be restricted. In response to Apple’s prompt, Facebook has been forced to reimagine some aspects of Business Manager. For Facebook & Instagram marketers, this means changes to account set-up, targeting, optimisation and reporting. These changes are already being rolled out and impact all advertisers, even if you aren’t targeting iOS users. 

There is a long list of exactly what is changing for Facebook & Instagram marketers. Some of the most important changes include: 

Reported Conversions 

When users choose to opt-in to the prompt, website conversion data sharing will remain intact. However, if a user opts-out of the prompt your ability to track their actions on your website will be limited and event attribution will be restricted, aggregated and delayed. While your campaigns will have similar reach and impressions, the number of reported conversions will likely decrease as a result. Users may still be taking conversion actions on your website, but limited data will be coming back to Facebook Ads Manager. This will impact how marketers optimise and report on their campaigns. Without accurate in-Facebook data about conversions like Purchases, metrics including Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) and Average Cart Value will be estimated, making optimisation decisions more complex. Custom audiences which rely on Facebook Pixel and SDK data points (e.g. Website Visitors, Cart Abandoners) will become less accurate. As some users will opt-out of the prompt, there will be less recorded conversions for events meaning there will be a smaller pool of users inside these audiences. In theory, this will prevent advertisers from reaching ALL cart abandoners and excluding ALL purchasers. 

Limit of 8 Conversions per Domain 

Yep. Previously almost-unlimited-standard-and-custom-conversion-events are being reduced to 8. There will be an introduction of a limitation on 8 conversion events per domain, with domain verification and event selection to be configured inside Business Manager. This does not mean you can only track 8 events per domain, but rather that only 8 events per domain can be used for campaign optimisation. You will be able to choose and prioritise these events in Facebook’s reimagined Events Manager. Your Facebook Pixel or Conversions API will still transfer the data, but events will be associated with domains. Because of this, your domain will need to be verified in your Business Manager account. 

Deprecated Attribution Windows

Facebook will be waving goodbye to the default 28-day click-through, 28-day view-through, and 7-day view-through attribution windows. Instead, you will need to choose your Attribution window at an ad-set level. This will impact campaign reporting and attribution modelling in Facebook from the roll-out date. 

Audience Breakdowns for Conversion Events 

Facebook will no longer be permitted to display demographic breakdowns for conversion events. While you will still be able to view breakdowns for standard performance metrics (Reach, Impressions, CPC), you will no longer be able to view which Age Group generated the most Conversions or most efficient Cost Per Conversion. 

How you can adapt?

In order to limit the disruption to your accounts, you will want to consider the following:

  1. Ensure your brand has it’s own Business Manager account. You will need this to verify your domain/s which you’d like tracked with either the Facebook Pixel or Conversions API. This can only be done on one Business Manager account and can be shared with relevant partners. 
  2. Decide on your domain’s eight conversion events. Now, prioritise them. Sounds simple enough, right? This task can be daunting, but it’s a great exercise to help realign your business and advertising goals. Once you have your eight website conversion events per domain, remember that only the first priority will be tracked in the event of an opt-out. For eCommerce businesses, I’d recommend “Purchase” as your #1. Don’t forget that you CAN change these eight events if you start running a new campaign, or set a new business goal. Just allow 72 hours for this event to become an option for optimisation. 
  3. Get testing! I’m not saying that everything you know needs to go out the window BUT some things will change. Whether it’s retesting your bid strategies and campaign optimisation types, trialling broader audiences or giving Google’s Attribution Modelling a go, testing will help you improve. 

Despite all of this, there may actually be some silver linings in Facebook’s changes. (Bear with me). I anticipate that these changes will boost the popularity of native Facebook and Instagram advertising options, allowing marketers to effectively by-pass websites and therefore data restrictions. For eCommerce businesses, this may come in the form of Instagram Shops. With reasonable customisation available in Business Manager, you can create a complete catalogue. Who knows, Facebook may even bring in-app purchasing to Australia! For other businesses, Lead Gen Forms and Messenger Ads could prove to be untapped markets, allowing more conversion data for reporting and optimisation. While some advertisers will make the effort to adapt to changes, others will likely redirect marketing spend to other channels. This could see your competition exit, leaving market share and News Feeds up for the taking! On the other hand, these changes may highlight the need for your business to diversify digital channels. This could be a great opportunity to find more effective channels for your brand.

As social media professionals, we are all too familiar with quick industry changes demanding adaptability. Exhale, and remember that advertisers are all in the same boat with this one! If you or your brand is feeling overwhelmed by these changes (been there, done that!), feel free to contact us- Klyp:  www.klyp.co07 3257 0677

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