Apple’s iOS 14.5 Update: Campaign impacts and how best to prepare

An iPhone with an update loading screen
Paid Media
Apr 26, 2021
4 min read

Key Changes in the Coming Week

Apple’s iOS 14.5 update is rolling out this coming week, and with it comes Facebook’s new prompt to opt out of data collection. Over the next two weeks, you will gradually see campaigns become limited due to Facebook’s Aggregated Event Measurement solution. Here’s what to expect:

  • 1-day click-through opt-out data will be modeled.
  • 7-day click-through and 1-day view-through attribution settings will no longer include iOS 14.5 opted-out events.
  • Action and demographic breakdowns will be deprecated for offsite events.
  • Attribution setting default will change to 7-day click-through for newly created ad sets and web event campaigns.
  • 28-day click-through, 7-day view-through, and 28-day view-through attribution settings will be fully deprecated along with the Comparing Windows feature. (see below for more details)
  • Attribution methodology will shift from Impression Time to Conversion Time.

Overall Campaign Impacts

As Apple’s iOS 14.5 update rolls out, clients can expect to see some impacts to their reported campaign results, but only for tactics that that run on mobile devices. Some things to keep in mind:

  • The privacy change will only impact ads served on mobile or iPad devices, and is not slated to impact Apple desktop/laptops at this time.
  • Ads will still appear on iOS devices, but targeting and reporting capabilities may be limited, depending on whether a user allows or declines tracking permissions. If a user opts out, ads will no longer be as relevant or personalized to them.
  • Ad Targeting tactics that we can expect to see a change in: Retargeting and Prospecting
    • Many targeting types (including retargeting to users based on device-level targeting and prospecting based on audience attributes) will no longer work for users that have opted out of sharing their IDFA.
    • Platforms like Google and Facebook have other deterministic variables they can use to identify devices (email, phone number) but other programmatic platforms that don’t have such information are likely to see a reduction in targetable audiences. This means that retargeting audiences will shrink, and prospecting will be less granular.
    • Leveraging first-party data will increase in importance to execute and track campaigns, as platforms will rely more on the user’s unique identity versus web browsing attributes.
  • Ad Measurement*:
    • While Apple has announced a replacement API (SKAdNetwork) that will allow for conversion data to be passed back at the campaign level, we’re still going to see a reduction in the fidelity of data that mobile measurement partners can use to identify fraud and performance across mobile campaigns.
    • Most platforms (Facebook, Google, Snapchat, TikTok, DSPs, MMPs, etc.) will be using SkAdNetwork, and Apple Search Ads will have its own framework. The network enables those platforms still to track attribution and measurement, though limited. As noted previously, advertisers will be capped at eight conversion tracking events.
    • You might see fluctuations in delivery and performance for ad campaigns that run on iOS, with the biggest impact being on ROAS.
    • Moving forward, conversions will be reported based on the time the conversion occurred, versus when the ad impression was served.
    • Delivery versus action breakdown will no longer available. This means you will still see a breakdown of “where” the action took place (whether they were on Facebook, Instagram, etc., what type of device the click occurred on, placement, and browser), but Facebook will no longer provide a breakdown of the conversions by demographic info such as age, gender, location, etc.
      • Targeting against demographics will still be available, but advertisers will no longer be able to see the data associated with each segment

How to Best Prepare for Apple’s iOS 14.5 Update

  1. Verify all website domains.
    • Domain verification must be done for the effective top-level domain plus one (eTLD+1).
    • Domain verification should be prioritized for domains with pixels used by multiple businesses or personal ad accounts.
  2. Implement Facebook’s conversions API.
    • Facebook’s Conversion’s API will allow advertisers to send web and offline events from their servers directly to Facebook.
    • This will allow for measurement, reporting, and optimization to act as server events in the same way as browser pixel events work today.
    • Use the Conversion API in conjunction with the Facebook pixel.
  3. Establish the preferred 8 web conversion events per domain in Events Manager that the advertiser deems most important. Do this as soon as possible to avoid having to pause ads for 72 hours.
    • Aggregated Event Measurement limits domains to 8 conversion events that can be used for campaign optimization.
    • While not usable for optimization, events not configured as one of the 8 conversion events for a domain can still be used for partial reporting in Ads Manager and website Custom Audience targeting (i.e., advertisers will still be able to target users using the “purchase” pixel data they’ve gathered).
  4. Focus on first-party data collection.
    • If not already occurring, collect data directly from your audience and customers. You can do so via your brand website, email lists, surveys, social media, or other first party avenues.
    • This is a long-term solution, as relying more on first-party data will reduce privacy concerns and maximize scalability with campaigns.
    • Continue uploading/refreshing first-party data into Facebook and create Customer Lists that you can target directly in the platform. This will help mitigate decreases in retargeting audience size.

*Note: Facebook Analytics will no longer be available as of June 30, 2021.

  • Until then, you can still access reports, export charts and tables and explore insights. To export data into a CSV file from Facebook Analytics on your desktop, click in the top-right corner of each chart or table. Be sure to export historical data based on both the 28-day, 7-day, and 1-day view-through attribution. This will allow you to compare data sets side by side and predict how performance is expected to change.
  • Other tools available for measurement in Facebook include Facebook Business Suite, Ads Manager, and Events Manager.

This report on iOS 14.5 data tracking from Backbone’s digital media team is an update to our previous iOS 14 report. If you have feedback or questions, please send us a note at

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