UPDATED – Facebook’s Audience Network Preparation Plan for iOS 14, Explained

Image Source: Adweek

It is almost September and Apple’s upcoming operating system iOS 14 is almost here. In the WWDC (World Wide Developer Conference) on June 22, Apple announced the deprecation of the IDFA where mobile apps will be required to ask users for permission to collect and share personal data using Apple’s device identifier.

After the announcement, some registered developers with iOS 14 Beta access discovered the text below.


In iOS 10.0 and later, the value of advertisingIdentifier is all zeroes when the user has limited ad tracking.

In iOS 14.0 and later, limit ad tracking is enabled by default.

The mobile marketing ecosystem is trying hard to adapt to this new change in mobile measurement before the release of iOS 14. 

Facebook, on Wednesday, published a couple of blog posts outlining the potential impact of IDFA depreciation on Facebook Audience Network. The company said it will no longer collect the identifier for advertisers (IDFA) on its own apps for iOS 14 devices. 

Facebook acknowledges that the IDFA deprecation will cause a 50% drop in Audience Network publisher revenue because of its limits on targeting and relevancy. 

“We know this may severely impact publishers’ ability to monetize through Audience Network on iOS 14, and, despite our best efforts, may render Audience Network so ineffective on iOS 14 that it may not make sense to offer it on iOS 14 in the future.” the company said in a statement.  “While it’s difficult to quantify the impact to publishers and developers at this point with so many unknowns, in testing we’ve seen more than a 50% drop in Audience Network publisher revenue when personalization was removed from mobile app ad install campaigns. In reality, the impact to Audience Network on iOS 14 may be much more, so we are working on short-and long-term strategies to support publishers through these changes.” 

Working with more than 19,000 developers worldwide, Facebook says the company paid out billions of dollars in 2019 to publishers and developers in 2019 (over $1.5 billion paid in 2018). Being an important source for both smaller and high-DAU publishers and developers, Facebook Audience Network’s walking away from IDFA will cause a massive problem in terms of ad revenue. 

After announcing last week that the company will completely stop collecting the IDFA for iOS 14 devices, Facebook released an FAQ document for advertisers to provide guidance. Here are the most important highlights from Facebook’s email and FAQ.

New Facebook SDK for iOS 14

Facebook announced that they will release an entirely new SDK to support reporting via Apple’s SKAdNetwork API. The new SDK will block any data collection and sharing if the user doesn’t allow tracking. The company will release the SDK before the iOS 14 release and will share the specific dates after Apple’s timeline is confirmed. By the way, there are some rumors going around that Apple will delay the release of privacy-related opt-in by 6 months. It is just a rumor but apparently it would be a weight off advertisers’ and developers’ minds for a short time. 

03 September, 2020 UPDATE

Apple reportedly delays the controversial privacy feature in iOS 14 that requires developers to  ask users for permission to track them and to summarize their privacy information. On Thursday, the company confirmed the delay. 

The changes will go live with iOS 14 but the enforcement of the feature will be early next year.  Apple also says developers can begin complying with the privacy rule after iOS 14 launch if they want, but it won’t require them to do so until 2021.

Non-IDFA Match Methods

Facebook suggests advertisers to use non-IDFA match methods such as adopting Facebook Login (SSO) or using Advanced Matching to share hashed customer contact information (e.g., email addresses). However, this is not a hack to avoid ad tracking opt-in. Apple requires advertisers to request permission even when signing on with a third-party SSO. “Your app needs to request permission to track sometime before tracking occurs. This could be at first launch or when certain app features are used. For example, when signing on with a third-party SSO.” the company says in the documentation. 

Creation of a Dedicated iOS 14 Ad Account

Facebook requires advertisers to create and use completely new ad accounts to run app install ad campaigns to target iOS 14 users. The new account creation will be launched in the first weeks of September and it will only apply for “App Install Ads”. In the new iOS14 campaign environment,

  • It will be allowed to create at most 9 ad campaigns per ad account. Facebook explains the reason for why it is limited with 9 ad campaigns with the restrictions of SKAdNetwork. With SKAdNetwork, each ad network can create 100 different ad campaigns. The postbacks can include ad campaign IDs including only 100 values. Even if it looks reasonable, it might be a problem for ad networks while creating different sub-campaigns for different regions, different ad visuals, and different devices. It is also an important issue for campaign tracking because of the limit of 100 tracked campaigns at a time.  
  • Each campaign will only have one ad set. 
  • There will be no limit on the number of ads in an ad set.
  • The ad campaigns targeting Android, iOS 13 and older versions will be run through existing ad accounts. Facebook says the company is doing this because Apple’s SKAdNetwork API requires a completely different methodology for ad campaign performance measurement. 

Campaign Performance Reporting 

Facebook revealed the limitations that SKAN (SKAdNetwork) API will cause. 

  • SKAN API will not allow advertisers to reach real time reporting because of the data delay of minimum 24.48 hours arising from delay in postbacks. 
  • There will be no longer demographics breakdown in the campaign reporting.   
  • SKAN API only allows campaign level reporting. If there is more than one ad in an ad set, reporting will be modeled based on aggregated data. As I mentioned above, Facebook only allows 9 campaigns per account, and one ad set per campaign. In this environment, because of the SKAN API’s postback mechanism, there should be a one to one relationship between an ad campaign and an ad set. 
  • It will not be possible to create cross-account reports across an iOS 14 and non-iOS 14 ad account. 
  • A/B testing will only be available at campaign level. 
  • Facebook will share SKAdNetwork data (for only app install (MAI) campaigns) with MMPs. Advertisers will need to integrate Facebook SDK in order to run AEO and MAI campaigns. 
  • SKAdNetwork doesn’t support view-through attribution, meaning impression tracking will not be allowed. Facebook SDK will also not provide 1D, 7D, or 28D click-through attribution window breakdowns. 
  • Android and iOS 13 & older campaigns will continue with full measurement capabilities. 

Marketing API

The new IOS 14 ad accounts will only support Ads Manager. Facebook will not offer Marketing API support for iOS 14 ad campaigns. Marketing API offers a collection of Graph API endpoints, automated ad management, leveraging data-based audiences, and real-time optimization. Advertisers will not have a chance to use Marketing API to create and edit ad campaigns targeting iOS 14. 

Lookalike Audience Creation

Facebook will allow advertisers to create lookalike audiences but not by using custom audiences. For iOS 14 ad accounts, lookalike audiences will only be created from existing ad campaigns, app events, or other conversion values. It is obvious that this change will cause a devastating decrease in the quality and value of acquired users because using custom audiences for lookalike audiences was allowing advertisers to build targeted campaigns based on their most valuable users. 

Apparently, Facebook is not happy with the deprecation of IDFA and the capabilities of SKAdNetwork. The company has preferred to “not to collect” IDFA altogether instead of finding a way to keep advertising on Facebook easier for iOS 14. The fight between Apple and Facebook is not new but it will cause billions of dollars for the Audience Network publishers and to Facebook’s itself. If Apple doesn’t delay the privacy-based opt-in as rumors have it that, we will see the results of those actions in a very short time in the upcoming months. 

You can read the full text of Facebook’s email and FAQ here

Written by Jordan Bevan


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