It is no secret that Facebook Ads haven’t been the same since iOS 14 arrived. The sudden shift in Facebook performance has left leadership and marketing teams for both small businesses and Fortune 500 companies at a crossroads as far as how to measure channel performance and whether to continue investing in the platform altogether.

What Exactly Happened

Starting with iOS 14.5 Apple required apps like Facebook to show users a clear prompt asking them to opt-in to tracking. As a result, many iPhone users decided to opt-out, impacting Facebook’s ability to track browsing activities, specifically using their pixel to measure conversions when someone clicks a Facebook ad and completes a purchase outside of the platform. Furthermore, this hurt Facebook’s ability to gather valuable 3rd party online behavior and as a result audience sizes for interests, in-market ads began to shrink and user demographic numbers suffered.

How Did it Impact Brands?

Almost as soon as the changes rolled out marketers noticed Facebook ad performance beginning to decline while cookie pools that populate demographics and lookalike campaigns began to shrink. Evergreen campaigns that were able to traditionally post high ROIs were beginning to collapse into breakeven territory and awareness prospecting campaigns suddenly became ineffective from a return perspective. 

As this happened ad prices jumped as impression inventory shrank, forcing bidding wars among remaining audience pools.

   Measurement Struggles

The biggest issue that iOS tracking changes and ongoing data silo-ing among major tech companies have exposed is that the way businesses report their online results needs to evolve. The reporting gold standard for 99% of companies is still last click attribution which will always put prospecting channels like social media ads in a poor light because they generally work for awareness / middle of the funnel and rarely are the click that nets an actual purchase. The only way to show value with those channels is using their pixel conversion data and when it can no longer be supplied, then it negatively skews performance data.

The problem is that leadership and investors don’t want complicated dashboards full of caveats and reports showing performance by channel by attribution model with 10 pages of notes. Last click is ultimately the cleanest (and quickest…) way to view conversion data but it can drive marketing decisions that favor yield over growth.

Given that last click is here to stay, how can brands leverage simple reporting dashboards to get a better sense of media performance without creating boardroom confusion? One option is leveraging assisted conversions (broken out by goal) to understand the revenue impact and score just how many transactions/email signups a Facebook ad interaction was able to generate. The important thing for this approach is to use your first party analytics vs Facebook pixel assisted conversion data as you will likely have a clearer picture.

What Does the Future Hold?

Large tech companies are beginning to realize that whoever controls the data will ultimately win the race and the loose cookie policies of the past are likely gone for good. That being said, AVX still feels that social media marketing is an accretive business practice that will continue to generate results for brands so long as they have proper reporting in place to advocate for continued investment.

If your company is struggling with Facebook Ads and attribution, let’s have a quick chat to talk through challenges, what we’ve done with our clients to address them and how we can assist your business going forward

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