Four reasons why Apple’s privacy update won’t kill Facebook Ads

    Posted on September 17, 2020

     

    Yesterday saw the release of Apple iOS 14 operating system, with a new feature that might provide piece of mind to privacy-minded users, but has caused some concern to Facebook – not to mention businesses that use it for advertising.

    The change means that for iOS 14 users, third-party apps will not be able to collect or share data unless the user gives them permission to do so. It has long been possible to block tracking on iPhones and other devices, but this latest update marks the first time users have been prompted to opt in to data sharing, rather than simply given the choice to opt out.

    Since Facebook Ads work by tracking users on sites and apps outside of Facebook itself, there are concerns that this will severely limit the effectiveness of the service. This is especially the case for Facebook’s Audience Network, which allows advertisers to target a highly specified audience based on their interests and other sites they might visit.

    Whether you’ve used Facebook Ads or not, you’ve probably had an experience of searching online for an item of clothing or a cheap flight, for example, and then had the same thing you were looking at pop up on your Facebook newsfeed. That’s likely to have been the doings of Facebook’s Audience Network.

    With Apple now upping its focus on privacy, Facebook is worried that it will lose revenue, and those using Audience Network for advertising will see a diminished effect. A Facebook blog post rather bleakly concludes:

    “Ultimately, despite our best efforts, Apple’s updates may render Audience Network so ineffective on iOS 14 that it may not make sense to offer it on iOS 14.”

    Facebook may be anxious, but is this just an idle threat to try and get Apple to reconsider? And if Apple sticks to its guns, are Facebook Ads going to become a waste of time on new Apple devices?

    We don’t think so, and here are four reasons why:

    1. Everyone is in the same boat

    For a start, even if there are ramifications to the impact that Audience Network has, it’s not as though anyone else will be gaining at your expense. In his most recent podcast, marketing expert Dan Henry describes advertisers’ fears of missing out as a “poor mindset”.

    2. Facebook is still so heavily used

    Henry, who believes that Facebook employees themselves are the last people we should listen to when looking for guidance on how to run Facebook advertising, also suggests that the frequency that people visit Facebook means that much of the time, targeted users will still see relevant ads. For example, someone may have been on your site, then go directly over to Facebook straight afterwards.

    Although Henry admits that a “chunk” of his returns comes directly from Audience Network, he stresses that it’s not the majority, suggesting there is still much to be gained from Facebook Ads, even if Audience Network’s capabilities are stifled.

    3. Many iOS 14 users will still opt in

    In the post-GDPR age, internet users are so bombarded with privacy notices, plenty of them accept them instinctively. One 2018 study found that more than three quarters of website visitors ignore cookie banners completely, while others close them or simply accept the settings. Only one in 200 (0.5%) actually opens the cookie settings, suggesting that often, people are happy to just say ‘yes’.

    Also, while some people fear the ‘Big Brother’ factor of people followed online, others (including Henry) would prefer to see online adverts that have been filtered for relevance and based on their interests and online behaviour.

    4. There are other ways to build a target demographic

    Bear in mind that Audience Network is only one part of Facebook Ads, and that there are other ways to target your ideal audience. Simply by setting up a Facebook account, people are already providing their age, location and gender, and usually give clues as to their interests, employment, education, political leanings and day-to-day activities, so a mine of information exists on Facebook alone.

    While social media advertising is sure to face continued challenges from an increasingly privacy-savvy public, it remains an excellent way to reach an audience likely to be interested in what you have to offer. If you’d like to make it work for you, contact the Engage Web team today.

    John Murray

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