Facebook is making more changes to its ad platform to adjust to Apple’s new data restrictions, which have affected how millions of marketers measure campaigns on the social network, giving many brands a distorted view of their ad performance.
Facebook’s VP of product marketing Graham Mudd announced today the updates to the platform, which is used by 10 million-plus advertisers. Mudd said Facebook made improvements to how it measures “conversions” from ad campaigns that run on iPhones. Conversions are when an ad drives an outcome like prompting a download or driving a sale. This year, Apple updated its iPhone software with new protocols for consumers to opt-out of tracking, which affected how advertising companies like Facebook collect data on users as they click on ads inside apps that send them to brands' websites.
Just last month, Facebook said it found a “bug” in its ad platform that reported inaccurate data to brands about the performance of their campaigns on Apple devices. Facebook said that conversions were off by about 15%, on average. In those cases, Facebook said it was not getting credit for successful conversions.
Facebook said today that it would work more seamlessly with Apple’s SKAdNetwork, which is the environment Apple wants developers to use in order to keep a lid on data sharing. “We’re expanding campaign management and attribution capabilities to help improve the performance of your app ads,” Mudd said. “With this update, you will be able to understand a more comprehensive view of conversion paths, e.g. the steps taken by a user towards making a conversion (like a purchase), from their iOS 14+ Mobile App Install campaigns.”
Facebook also made it easier for smaller advertisers to deploy its conversion software, called Conversions API Gateway, “without developer resources or coding experience,” Mudd said. Facebook has been promoting its conversion application programming interface—or API—as one of the answers for marketers in this new data paradigm.
Facebook has said that it is building new “privacy-enhancing technologies” that use fewer personal forms of data to target and measure ad campaigns. Mudd said on Wednesday that Facebook would roll out “private lift” modeling next year to all advertisersusing its conversions platform. Over the summer, Facebook said it was testing private lift measurement as a way to measure the performance of ad campaigns by using aggregate forms of data and not personally identifiable information. The idea is to keep users anonymous and still report to brands how much consumers spent on average from ad campaigns.
The announcements coincide with the all-important holiday shopping season, which makes it essential for brands to be able to promote deals and drive sales. The changes also come just ahead of Facebook’s earnings report next week, during which advertisers and investors will be looking for signals about how the ad business is holding up under Apple’s data changes.
The “cookieless future” has been a hot topic of conversation at Advertising Week. Earlier this week, Tim Vanderhook, CEO of ad software company Viant, said that Apple’s new data rules could level the playing field for others to compete with Facebook. “In today’s world, Facebook is no different than the open web, now that Apple has made these changes,” Vanderhook said during a panel about the death of cookies.
Facebook’s smaller rivals hope that they can develop the keys to personalized advertising online faster than Facebook adapts to changes being made by Apple and Google. “Device-level and user-level tracking is probably going to go away,” Vanderhook said, “not because of regulatory issues, because Apple and Google said so, which is what matters almost even more, given their superpower over all the devices that we use.”