iOS 14 update: How ecommerce advertisers should respond

With consumer privacy a topic at the forefront of digital advertising and mounting pressure on platforms like Facebook  and Google to provide more transparency into data use, it was no surprise when Apple made a move to give individuals control back over their data in the form of the latest iOS update released in May 2021.

The 14.5 update essentially means that for apps like Facebook, if an individual chooses to opt-out of tracking, the tracking available from ads would be limited after 1 day. This poses implications for advertisers on the platform in the form of 3 main challenges:

  • Reduction in reported conversion data on platform making optimisation difficult
  • Relying on estimated conversion data for iOS 14.5 opt-outs reducing reliability
  • Potential cross-border implications for advertisers due to lack of visibility on country breakdowns

At the webinar hosted by Nest a few weeks ago, designed to help ecommerce brands navigate the changes, we offered advertisers some potential solutions to address these challenges. You can find the key takeaways below.

Prepare for reduction and changes to conversion data:

  • Adapt optimisation methodology: Advertisers should create models using historical Facebook data, alongside revenue data from online stores to create proxies that can be used for optimisation when data is reduced. Determining the historical average costs for events further up the funnel such as ‘view content’ or ‘add to cart’ can enhance these proxies.
  • Consolidate account to boost data liquidity: Campaigns/strategies should be grouped to improve the amount of data being reported, allowing the algorithm to optimise more effectively.
  • Implement Conversions API (CAPI): CAPI is a tool that lets you share key actions directly from your website server to Facebook’s server. Used together, the Facebook pixel and CAPI will maximise the effectiveness of your customer data and enhance accurate tracking.
  • Leverage Dynamic Ads for Broad Audiences (DABA), interest targeting and update lookalikes: DABA, interest audiences, and demographic audiences all rely on data that will still be readily available with the iOS 14.5 update. Lookalike audiences can still be leveraged, but the seed audiences should be changed to external data sources such as CRM data, rather than using the pixel data which will be limited.

Alter cross-border strategies:

With the reduction in country-level data, iOS 14.5 threatens the usefulness of cross-border strategies for many advertisers who need to see performance breakdowns per country.

  • Consider if markets need to be isolated at all. External analytics platforms can easily view country performance, which can help optimisations when combined. This will allow advertisers to take advantage of lower CPMs and centralised learnings from a cross-border strategy.
  • Segment if needed, but ensure creative is localised and product offerings are adjusted on site. By localising, stronger performance should balance out the higher costs of being segmented.

Invest in creative that drives results:

Regardless of the impacts of iOS, if you want to be successful on social, it’s imperative to have thumb-stopping creative, that is high quality and interesting.

User value plays an important role, as ads are delivered on newsfeeds based on the actual value they could bring to that customer. Advertisers with the best creative strategies and output will gain a competitive advantage despite iOS.


If you focus on making data-backed changes to your account, you will have a strong foundation to overcome challenges posed by iOS 14.5+.

The 3 actions you need to take to start building these foundations are:

  • Review your international strategy and focus your efforts on localisation
  • Leverage interest audiences and DABA to remain competitive
  • Implement Conversions API so that you can optimise performance with the most data available

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