Ever wonder how Facebook knows to show you ads for the weird stuff you were just looking at on Amazon? (Or even the stuff you swear you only thought about?) Thank tracking cookies. They’re the little bits of code that follow you from place to place online, whether you’re on your phone, your laptop, or even your smart TV. And their job (and the jobs of so many of us in digital marketing) is about to become more difficult thanks to Apple’s iOS 14 update.

January 19th is the big day where iOS 14 updates (which also include iPadOS 14 and tvOS 14) taking place, and Facebook is prepared to take on one of the most hard-hitting implications of its time. So, what exactly is the iOS 14 Update and what does it mean for your small business?

AppTrackingTransparency Framework Launches

To start, Apple is introducing a new policy, iOS 14’s AppTrackingTransparency (ATT) Framework, which requests user authorization to access app-related data for tracking the user or the device. In a separate policy update, Apple has required apps in the App Store to give users more details about the personal data. This forces businesses to offer subscriptions and other in-app payments for revenue, meaning Apple will profit and many free services will have to start charging.

From an advertising perspective, we can expect the greatest of changes to impact mobile app advertisers. If advertisers are utilizing the Facebook software development kit (SDK), they will be issued to update to version 8.1 or above.

(Facebook SDK allows for a website or app to integrate with Facebook seamlessly. Ever logged into an app using your Facebook credentials? That’s the SDK at work.)

Attribution Window Significantly Shrinks

Another change to take place is significantly shortening the attribution window, which is the number of days between when someone viewed or clicked on an ad and then took an action on the website. (e.g., the time between clicking on an ad for shoes and purchasing those shoes.) Under the new changes, Facebook will only allow a seven-day click and one-day view attribution window and not the 28-day attribution window that marketers are used to. This will result in seeing a decrease in the reported number of conversions.

iOS 14 Will Impact Every Aspect of Facebook Campaigns

Several other smaller changes will impact how marketers look at analytics, which further changes overall digital marketing strategy, including changes to optimizing, targeting, and measuring web events. No longer having the 28-day window for click-through and view-through will have a significant measuring impact because they have been so crucial to accurately track conversions in a Facebook campaign.

Also, delivery and action breakdowns will no longer be supported for offsite conversions, including, age, gender, and region. Luckily, the update will include a new Resource Center in Ads Manager, which is a customized checklist of tasks to guide marketers through actions they can take to help ensure their advertising is set up optimally and to prepare for the upcoming impact of the iOS 14 requirements.

While we cannot be certain of the changes until they take effect, there are measures we have been taking to make this a smooth transition at HM. This includes pulling breakdown data, identifying campaign optimization strategies, and anticipating changes to the attribution window within our analytics. With the ever-changing landscape of Facebook, we can be certain that this will not be the last update of its time. Constantly being on top of changes on Facebook (as well as other platforms) gives us a head start ensuring campaigns continue to run without disruption.