iOS 14 is coming — what mobile app advertisers should be aware of

With the introduction of iOS 14, mobile advertisers are going to face some challenges.

Not aware of this yet? Apple is shifting the industry towards using its proprietary tracking system, SKAdNetwork (SKAN) API, abandoning the traditional IDFA (ID for Advertisers) methid which is the cornerstone of most mobile tracking approaches today, starting from iOS 14. This brings out some challenges you could never imagine you would face in 2020.

If you are still not 100% sure what’s going on, worry no more and read on (or maybe you will start worrying even more after reading that)!

Here is the list of things we all will start missing with the introduction of iOS 14. Please be aware that this list applies, first of all, to Facebook advertisers because lists all features and recommendations for Facebook ads.

  • The data is reported on the campaign level only. If you have more than one ad set and one ad in a campaign, the only correct data will be on the campaign level, all other data will be modeled.
  • No attribution windows comparison in the reporting. That means no more fancy comparisons of 1D, 7D, 28D post-click and post-view windows.
  • No breakdowns. That means you will not be able to see your campaign results in terms of age / gender / placement / region / etc. split.
  • Up to 3 (three!) days delay in reporting. No more real-time reporting. Well, this might give us all some lesson on patience.
  • No correct time reporting. Because SKAN API does not tell when the actions happen, the system will not be able to give you the correct breakdown based on day of install / app event. Instead, you will be able to see only when the system received the data from SKAN API.
  • No ability to run Conversion lift tests. So, the incremental influence of your Facebook campaigns on iOS 14 devices might be somewhat a mystery.
  • No ability to track in-app events if you are using only third-party measurement systems (e.g. AppsFlyer, Adjust, Branch, etc.) For advertisers who use proprietary tracking code (Facebook SDK), the ability to run both Mobile app install and App event optimization options.
  • Facebook Attribution (the separate tool) will no longer see installs and events from iOS 14.
  • Facebook Analytics (another separate tool) will no longer show events from iOS 14. This means no funnels, cohort analysis and other perks for this OS.
  • No ability to run campaigns through API. This means only Ads manager and no ability to use Mobile Measurement partners with own interface or any API ‘enhancements’.

Please note that all restrictions above apply only to campaigns targeting people on iOS 14.

To help you figure out how to adapt to the new mobile advertising reality, I gather a list of bullet points about the most important changes to embrace.

  • First, update your SDK to the latest version to support iOS 14. If you don’t have Facebook SDK yet, it’s time to install it (you probably already understood that when reading the list above).
  • Consider implementing non-IDFA match methods (Facebook Login or Advanced Matching).
  • You will need to create a separate Ad account only for iOS 14 campaigns. To make things more interesting, it has to be created using a dedicated experience (interface) that’s going to launch in early September.
  • You will need one iOS 14 ad account per app.
  • On Facebook, you will be able to create only 9 campaigns in an ad account. However, this might be changed in the future as the system gets optimized.
  • You will have limitation to one ad set per campaign. This means only 9 different targeting sets for the whole account. This is painful, but rather an unintended push towards the ‘clusterization instead of hypersegmentation’ narrative that Facebook has been evangelizing for a while.
  • 24 hour post app-launch attribution window for app events. This one is told to be extended in the future.
  • In iOS 14 ad accounts, Lookalikes are going to be based not on app audiences, but on specific apps and app events. Let’s see how they will differ and work. Naturally, these will be available to share only between other iOS 14 ad accounts.
  • If you are running a campaign with any objective other than Mobile app installs (e.g., Traffic, Conversions…), you will not receive data from SKAN API. This means the match rate will depend on the number of users who allowed to use their IDFA.
  • A/B tests can be run only on the campaign level, with no ability to see the breakdowns (naturally).

Please keep in mind that all the changes are applicable only to iOS 14 campaigns. All campaigns targeting Android devices and devices running iOS 13 and older will remain intact and will function in the same way as before.

Online advertising & marketing geek. Web analytics lover.