Social Platforms & iOS14: Recommendations for Advertisers


Social Platforms & iOS14: Recommendations for Advertisers

iOS14In late April 2021, Apple began enforcing AppTrackingTransparency (ATT), a new feature in their iOS 14.5 update which impaired the way advertisers tracked users on iOS products. This forced significant changes in the way monetization and measurement are reported; it also created more obstacles for cross-platform attribution. ATT gives users the option to be tracked on their device and as of early 2022, over 90% of users were using iOS14.5 or higher, but only 35% had opted in to tracking. The 35% figure is higher than initial estimates. However, eMarketer cautions that this number is inflated, and advertisers should consider most iOS users to be untrackable by platforms.  

While ATT was rolled out about a year ago, the impact became noticeable around June 2021 when the iOS update reached majority scale. Since then, platforms such as Facebook, Snapchat, and TikTok have adapted as best they could to mitigate signal loss which occurs when users leave their respective platforms. Despite efforts such as Facebook’s Aggregated Event Measurement (AEM), over the last year, Facebook’s US CPM is up 23%, CTR is down 12%, and CPC is up 31%. Starting last June, Harmelin’s clients focused solely on conversions experienced the most volatility. However, costs can stabilize by implementing our recommendations on how to get the best possible results on Facebook, Instagram, and other social platforms in the new normal. 

  1. Consolidate dollars into fewer campaigns and ad sets. This is the first step advertisers should take to improve results. There’s now a choice between control and optimal performance – any limitation that is put on the system means there will be a loss in efficiency. Breaking out campaigns and setting daily or weekly spend caps are still technically possible but it means paying a premium for worse performance. To achieve the best possible results, advertisers should minimize the number of campaigns and ad sets, while leveraging lifetime budgets.
  2. Use first-party data. Social platforms make it easy for advertisers to use their own customer lists. There are many ways to take advantage of first-party data, from direct targeting to building valuable lookalike audiences. Lookalikes almost always outperform interest targeting but ATT makes these lists harder to build without first-party lists. 
  3. Test broader audiences. Facebook and IG’s interest targeting is not as effective as it used to be. A new study found the targeting to be inaccurate around 30% of the time, and many times the ideal customers may be left out if you only rely on interests. Harmelin continues to see better results with broader audiences versus smaller – especially for regional campaigns.  
  4. Change creative more frequently. Meta says that 70% of the success or failure of a campaign can be credited to the creative. It is the most powerful lever that an advertiser can pull to influence performance, and creative testing is the best way to improve results. One rule of thumb: the smaller the audience being targeted, the more often the creative should be refreshed. When targeting a large audience, it may be OK to change creative every four to eight weeks. But, if targeting a smaller group, it may be necessary to refresh every two to three weeks.  
  5. Leverage on-platform signals to feed the algorithms with even more signals. There is zero signal loss for on-platform activity, so tactics like in-app lead generation, video views, and reach campaigns are far less impacted by ATT than optimizing for conversions.  
  6. If lower funnel-focused, adopt Facebook’s CAPI or CAPI Gateway to better track actions that occur on your website. These integrations connect the FB/IG platform directly to your website, which helps the platform algorithms know what is working and what will improve results. Meta estimates a 10% improvement in lower funnel results after initiating CAPI.  
  7. Test other platforms. Facebook and Instagram still offer the most cost-efficient mass reach but Snap and TikTok are competing better than ever before, and Harmelin has seen some campaigns on these platforms outperform FB/IG. Leveraging these other platforms will also boost incremental reach by finding potential customers who may not be on FB/IG. 


There is no going back to the pre-iOS14 days, but a decline in ad effectiveness is not a guaranteed fate. These platforms can still be used to achieve business objectives, except now the margin for error is thin. A failure to follow the new best practices across these popular platforms means that optimal performance might not be possible. We recommend collaborating with your social buyers and platform partners to develop appropriate testing strategies. 


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