What You Need to Know for the Facebook Ads iOS 14 Changes

[Updated May 4th, 2021 - to include actions needed for "Report time of action stat" setting changes to use "On conversion date"]

[Updated April 29th, 2021 - to include some additional data, tips, and further changes being made.]

To help our users prepare for the changes to Facebook Ads service based on Apple's iOS 14 requirements and the AppTrackingTransparency (ATT) prompt, we've compiled the latest information on the changes and how those impact Supermetrics products. This article will be updated as we gain new insights and information from Facebook about the changes they are making.


Note that this is not comprehensive list of all changes or actions you may need to take, but the ones of largest impact to Supermetrics-based reporting. There's a list at the end of this article with links to resources for further reading, which will describe the changes in more detail and give guidance for other actions users may need to take with their campaigns, ad manager accounts, etc.


Unless specified, these changes affect iOS 14 campaigns only or data that would have been sourced from iOS 14 devices.



What is the AppTrackingTransparency (ATT) Prompt? Why Does it Matter?

AppTrackingTransparency framework, which ostensibly is to help Apple device users gain more information about and control over how their data is used and how they are tracked. Starting with the release of iOS 14.5, iPadOS 14.5, and tvOS 14.5, any app that wants to track and collect data needs to use this framework and show a prompt to the user to allow them to opt in to tracking.

What this means for reporting and analytics is that any data that relies on this tracking, such as conversion attribution or audience targeting, may not be as affective due to users opting out of tracking. The data may be spotty or unreliable, which has prompted Facebook to make some adjustments to how their Advertising Platform works.


When Does this Take Effect?

Apple has begin to roll out the App Tracking Transparency (ATT) prompt the week of April 26th, as part of the iOS 14.5 update. With this update, apps will need to start obtaining permission to track users and further changes to the data will start to take effect in the Facebook Ads platform.


Other Key Dates

  • January 19th, 2021 - Facebook changed default attribution window from 28-day click, 1-day view to 7-day click, 1- day view
  • February 9th, 2021 - Supermetrics changed default attribution setting in connector in Google Sheets, Data Studio, Excel
  • February 24th, 2021 - Supermetrics changed default attribution setting in BigQuery, API, and other DWH products
  • Week of April 26th - Facebook changed default attribution from 7-day click, 1 day view to 7-day click; conversion events reported based on time of conversion rather than time of impression
  • May 6th, 2021 - Action report time settings in connector in Google Sheets, Data Studio, Excel (BigQuery, API, and other DWH products to follow soon)



Key Changes

Below are the key changes that will impact how data is reported going forward for Facebook Ads connector used by all Supermetrics products.


Attribution Window Changes:

**These changes affect all campaign types.**

Account level attribution will be replaced with a new attribution setting at the ad set level. You won't need to make any changes to your queries for this, as the existing settings will still work. 


On January 19th, 2021, Facebook changed the default attribution window to 7 day click, 1 day view for all campaigns starting at that point.


Now, as of the week of April 26th, 2021, the default attribution window is 7 day click for all campaigns starting at that point. Supermetrics will update the conversion window setting to use this new default on May 6th. You can manually select the new default from the list of options until we correct that.


Also as of the week of April 26th,  28-day click, 28-day view, and 7-day view windows to no longer be supported, and will only be available via the API for historical data. 


Supermetrics will continue to be able to get the longer attribution windows for historical data (older campaigns before the changes), but newer campaigns will need to have their queries adjusted to be accurate once AppTrackingTransparency is enforced by Apple.


We recommend you verify your attribution window settings for your queries to ensure they are still set appropriately and use the newly available fields to help identify which settings are being used, if mixed.


Report Time of Action Stat Changes:

As of the week of April 26th, reporting of offsite conversion events will change to be when the conversion occurs, rather than when the impression of the ad occurs. This is different than the original default.


Supermetrics will be changing the behavior of the "Report time of action stat" setting to default to conversion time rather than impression time on May 6th, 2021. The option to use impression time will still be available to use for historical data.


ACTION REQUIRED: Current data is coming through incorrectly now if the query is set to use "On impression date" for "Report time of action stat" setting. For Google Sheets and Excel, users must change the setting manually on existing queries to "On conversion date", as it will be saved as the impressions version.

If you have a lot of queries, it may be faster to use the SupermetricsQueries sheet to edit the value: ACTION_REPORT_TIME_impression to ACTION_REPORT_TIME_conversion


For Data Studio, if the value was not set before it should change the default to conversion. If you are unsure of the setting, go to the data source file's configuration page and change the value to "On conversion date".


New Fields and Settings:

We have added two fields to help you identify what attribution setting is being used.

  • Attribution setting: which will show which attribution setting is specifically used for the object. It will look something like this "1d_view_7d_click" if using one of the standard attributions, else it may contain one of these values:
    • skan - indicates when SKAdNetwork attribution setting is used for iOS 14 app install campaigns
    • mixed - indicates when a campaign or account has ad sets using multiple attribution settings
    • na - indicates when campaign or account has no ad set within to check
  • Is Campaign using SKAdNetwork: will show true or false values if the campaign is SKAdNetwork-specific


We also added a new advanced setting "Use account attribution setting" which will force it to use the originally defined attribution setting when it was at the account level. However, has been deprecated with the release of the ATT prompt now. We will schedule the removal of the setting later.


More details about these settings and their use will be recorded under Can I Set a Custom Conversion Window for Facebook Ads Metrics?


iOS 14 Campaign (SKAdNetwork) Changes/Effects:

As the data will be sourced from Apple's SKAdNetwork API for iOS 14 app install campaigns, there's many changes and limitations for these. 


  • Certain attribution windows and metrics may only provide partial data that does not include events from iOS 14 users.
  • iOS 14 app install campaigns will report based on the attribution window provided by Apple’s SKAdNetwork API
  • Offsite (website) conversion events will be reported on time of conversion rather than ad impression. This may lead to fluctuations in the cost-based metrics.
  • Real-time reporting will not be supported, and data may be delayed up to 3 days.
  • The data will be estimated, as it will be reported on aggregate at the campaign level and statistical modeling will be used on Facebook's side to break it down to ad set and ad levels.
  • No support for breakdowns (age, gender, location, placement) for both app and web conversions.


As of Feb. 9th, 2021, you should be able to identify these campaigns with the new dimension "Is Campaign using SKAdNetwork", with a 'true' value.


Aggregating Data Across iOS 14 and Non-iOS 14 Campaigns:

Facebook will no longer be able to aggregate non-inline conversion metric values across iOS 14 and non-iOS 14 ad campaigns due to differences in attribution logic. Querying across iOS 14 and non-iOS 14 campaigns will result in no data getting returned for non-inline conversion metrics, for example, app installs and purchases. Inline event metrics like impressions, link clicks, and video views, however, can still be aggregated.


To work around this and separate your iOS 14/SKAdNetwork Campaigns to report at the campaign or account level, you can use the dimension Is Campaign using SKAdNetwork" to filter the data. It returns either 'true' or 'false', so if you wanted to see only your iOS-specific campaigns, you could set the filter as:

Is Campaign using SKAdNetwork EQUALS true


Other Relevant Changes/Effects:

  • Expected that as users opt out of tracking on their iOS 14 device that custom audience numbers may decrease, limiting targeting. (Impacts all campaign using custom audiences)
  • Dynamic Ads may be affected by decreased retargeting audience due to users opting out of tracking on iOS 14 devices. (Impacts all Dynamic Ads)



References and Resources for Additional Reading

https://developers.facebook.com/blog/post/2021/01/14/preparing-our-partners-api-endpoint-changes/ 

https://developers.facebook.com/blog/post/2021/01/19/actions-app-advertisers-developers/ 

https://developers.facebook.com/blog/post/2021/01/19/actions-partners-mobile-web-advertisers/ 

https://www.facebook.com/business/news/ios-14-apple-privacy-update-impacts-small-business-ads

https://www.facebook.com/business/help/331612538028890

https://www.facebook.com/business/help/395050428485124

https://developer.apple.com/app-store/user-privacy-and-data-use/

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