Facebook’s fist fight with Apple.
Everyone knows Facebook Ads have changes since the release of iOS14, but does that mean Facebook isn't a good marketing tool anymore? In short no Facebook Ads are not bad, they are in fact they are the exact same they always have been. I'll explain in detail why that is, but first you will need to understand how things work.
Facebook, Google, TikTok, Bing, Snapchat and many other online marketing channels use browser based tracking. Facebook does this through the Facebook Pixel; which is essentially code that makes it possible to track what happens after someone lands on your page (this includes actions like signing up, making a purchase etc) and many more actions.
iOS14 introduced a new security feature that impacts how Facebook can track users. If you have updated to iOS 14 and use an iPhone or iPad, Safari now blocks cookies by default. Cookies are what allow Facebook Pixel to track people after they leave your website. So as you can imagine this was not good news for Facebook Ads.
So what exactly happened and what changed?
Well Facebook has come up with a few workarounds. The first is to use Facebook's offsite conversion tracking. This workaround tracks people who have clicked on your ad, but not necessarily landed on your website. Facebook will then track these users through cookies that are placed on other websites they visit. The big is does that let me see the results of a Facebook Ad? The short answer is no, this doesn't give you the transparency of what actually happened but this isn't the whole story.
Let's first talk more about why correct measurement is so important to Facebook's ad platform and engine. If a program needs specific things to do its task's correct, it must have that information to work properly. Without that information it will produce unstable results because it is a program. This is essentially Facebook right now and the issue of why measurement is so vital.
When an iOS user sees or click on a Facebook Ad, those actions on site are not communicated back to Facebook's brain (the algorithm in this case) and those missed actions like an add to cart, product view or purchase isn't recorded if they have an iOS device.
Now this is where things get really problematic.
How has performance been impacted?
It depends, there are too many variables in this article to include right now. However according to Facebook themselves, Facebook advertisers and business could see up to a 60% decline in performance. Why did this happen and what was the cause of this poor performance, basically bad communication.
Like mentioned earlier in this article, Facebook is reliant on data. When a marketer builds a conversion campaign (focused on selling things online), most marketers have a similar strategy. That strategy goes something like this - Build a prospecting audience, build a retargeting audience and so on. This strategy was perfect when Facebook wasn't blind.
Facebook needs to be able to see in order to find and look for other people who match your audience criteria, this is called a match rate. Match rates are based from 0-10 with 10 being the highest. Match rates are the literal scale of how accurate Facebooks data is or is not. Pre iOS14 match rates averaged around 5.5, today they are averaging about 3.3 which is like an atomic bomb to Facebook.
So the ability for Facebook to simply say "Here you go, a bunch of people who will very likely buy something from you...", its has changed to "Here is a large list of people who know you are selling is about but probably would shop elsewhere". With the exception of the few marketers who are not masterminds, this has impacted the rest of the 10+ million business who use Facebook Ads on a massively global scale of lower returns.
What now, how do you succeed with Facebook Ads?
The Facebook Ads platform is still thriving, but the people and businesses that succeed will be those who understand Facebook's new limitations. The best way to accomplish this is to move away from Facebook as a direct response (think of it like ecommerce) channel and learn how Facebook can work for you in other ways.
This is the first way to improve, there are 3 ways to improve the quality and return of Facebook Ads.
The second way to to outsource, hire, consult or learn from a true Facebook Ads mastermind. This type of person is typically hard to find because lots of people out there are Facebook pros. A Facebook pro is someone who understands a few things like how do Facebook Ads work, how their algorithm prioritizes information, what ways other types of campaign objectives like video views, lead generation and website traffic can jumpstart a poorly performing campaign and lastly how Facebook as a business operates which is very important.
The third way to improve your Facebook Ads is by not using browser based tracking and measuring server side events.
What are server side events and why will they revive my Facebook Ads?
Server side events are Facebook tracking pixels that have been placed on the server of a website, as opposed to being installed in the browser. When a Facebook pixel is server-side, it can track all user interactions with a website - even if those users never visit Facebook. This is done by sending information from the Facebook pixel directly to Facebook's servers. The impact is a near perfect match rate, the best match rate I have witnessed was 9.8. The date was nearly perfect and had a change in performance to almost 50% improvement in Facebook Ads Manager, and 40%+ in bottom line revenue with no changes or edits or budget changes to the ad account.
It was astonishing, I saw before my eyes over the course of 24 hours 40% more revenue on our clients website with no ad account changes. Why did this impact so dramatically and why isn't Facebook themselves doing this right now? Facebook as a company isn't trusted any longer, if they started another digital war and re-wrote Apples privacy requests then they would lose users. Users to Facebook is what at the end of the day gives them a value on the stock market. While Facebook makes a huge amount of money from Facebook Ads, they also must ensure that the value of the company is worth the money.
How do I install server-side tracking for Facebook Ads?
Facebook has made this difficult, if not impossible. They want people to install the Facebook pixel in the browser for tracking and measurement purposes. However, there are some ways to get around this.
One way is to use a Facebook tool like Popsixle, who have developed a workaround that allows you to track server-side events and push data from your website to their secure server that then pushes that data back to Facebook's algorithm (it's brain). When Popsixle was being tested, this is where I saw the 9.8 match rate happen.
They managed to shrink this massive feat with a simple