The impact of Apple’s upcoming iOS14 update is still unclear. While we know there will be impact it’s hard to quantify and the variance between the armageddon scenario and the 'meh' outcome is meaningful. Of course we’re talking about a number of affected parts of the Facebook ads ecosystem here. Firstly (and most notably) the ability to track conversions effectively. A key challenge here is the potential impact on Facebook's optimization algorithms, for so long a mainstay of their value proposition. Secondly the ability to use those signals to form precise audiences for targeting purposes. This is critical to provide advertisers with enough options to successfully find their perfect audience amongst Facebook's massive scale.
It’s clear that both Facebook and Advertiser’s themselves need to start figuring out a Plan B now, even if we don't know what the full impact of iOS14 will be yet. Why?
- Facebook itself estimates that 50% of the CPM across FAN comes from the ability to target highly precise audiences
- If this is the impact on FAN what does that look like across other Facebook properties?
- Ad targeting is especially important for small and midsize advertisers. These typically have a more limited budget to play with and therefore have more pressure on optimizing every impression
The good news is that options are emerging. Facebook continues to push the Conversion API as a way to mitigate conversion data loss. This will see Facebook become more deeply integrated into downstream (likely 1st party) systems. Regarding the loss of targeting options, that is more challenging. Here Facebook may have options such as bulking up contextual targeting. However this can still be imprecise - and we’re trying to mitigate for loss of precision where possible!
One answer has been staring us in the face all along. Third party data is a widely used solution for finding the perfect audience. It's something that has been proven to work across multiple channels for the last two decades. Companies like Experian, Transunion, Bombora and Dunn & Bradstreet have perfected the art of building quality third party audiences. All in a privacy safe way. There is a big difference between third party data and third party identifiers (see blog post on this). Often these are conflated and there is an equal amount of coverage discussing the impact of cookie deprecation happening at the same time. It's important to note that while some third party data providers rely on third party identifiers the vast majority have built multiple inputs to audience creation.
Facebook’s direct relationship with third party data providers ended in 2018 with the deprecation of Partner Categories. At the time Facebook cited privacy concerns after the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The specific concern here was around liability and direct risk to Facebook. In the meantime Facebook has allowed third party data companies to directly push audiences into Facebook on an advertiser by advertiser basis. In this model all commercial terms and handling of liability handled outside of Facebook. We built DeepSync Labs to make this capability available to ALL advertisers. By building easy ways to find clean, well lit third party data we can democratize access to these precise audiences at the exact time audience precision is challenged by iOS 14.