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How to Navigate iOS Changes To Minimize Disruption to Your Facebook Ad Campaigns

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Since this post was created, Meta has made changes to how we create our conversion events (again!). There is no longer a limit on the number of conversion events we can create. Domains are still required to be verified. We leave this post here for historical background and we'll direct you to the latests updates in our free training in the links you'll find in this post.

04 March 2021 | By Salome Schillack - Updated March 2024

  • 1 Why the iOS change is happening.
  • 2 How this change impacts online course creators’ ads on Facebook and Instagram.
  • 3 What you should do now to prepare.
  • 4 What you may need to do in the future to stay up to date with the changes.

Facebook is on a journey. When Mark Zuckerberg started his company, he famously said:

“Move fast and break things.”

It appears that Facebook is living up to that motto as it updates the Ads Manager and its functionality to prepare for a significant iOS change. We don’t yet have all the answers, and it seems that Facebook doesn’t either. You should prepare for your Ads Manager to be slow, glitchy and full of warning signs that could very well impact your experience.

In 2020, Apple announced that it would be proactively asking iOS 14 users – everyone with an Apple iPhone – if they would opt in to being tracked online. It is fair to assume that many users would choose not to be tracked when given the option.

 Facebook and online course creators rely on user data to build audiences and to run a variety of ads (e.g., list building, webinars, launch, and evergreen). If Apple iOS users opt out of being tracked across the internet, the impact to our interest, target and retargeting audiences, as well as the corresponding data, is immense.

To mitigate these changes, Facebook is proactively making significant updates to how we track users online and how we measure conversion events like leads and sales. Though Facebook is taking action in response to Apple’s iOS update, these changes will impact ad placements across all platforms and operating systems.

Imagine you have a saved audience of two million users that you target when running list building ads. One day, 75% of this target audience disappears. Poof. Gone. The impact would be immediate and substantial: your targeting would be off, and it would impact your results and the algorithm’s ability to find more users like those who were converted in the past.

Now imagine you’re in the middle of a webinar launch, and you see thousands of users land on your thank-you page. You want to retarget those users with your urgency message, except 75% of them have opted out of being tracked. You would be left with a retargeting audience that represents only a fraction of who you are trying to reach.

In both hypothetical scenarios, your targeting and retargeting audience data is skewed, and you don’t know which ads actually resulted in sales. You are left unable to scale effectively, and your launch becomes a guessing game.

When massive portions of our audiences disappear, we are affected in these three ways, each of which Facebook identified as it considered the iOS changes:

  • 1 OPTIMIZATION: The pixel is not going to learn as well as it once did because it can’t “see” who is landing on our pages, or use that information to find more users like them.
  • 2 TARGETING: Because our target audiences will not reflect users who opt out of being tracked, the quality of lookalike audiences will be affected and our retargeting audiences may become highly diluted.
  • 3 REPORTING: The numbers being reported inside Ads Manager could become highly inaccurate.

To help us overcome these challenges, Facebook has introduced big changes to how we create campaigns, track events and use the pixel to get the best possible feedback and data from our ads.

Facebook indicates that it is working to develop new products for advertisers that will help us track our results and create campaigns that effectively target and retarget our audiences.

To prepare, Facebook is asking us to do three things:

  • 1 VERIFY YOUR DOMAIN (do this now).
  • 2 SET UP YOUR EIGHT CONVERSION EVENTS IN EVENTS MANAGER TOOL (do this now).
  • 3 START MOVING OVER TO CONVERSION API (wait for more information from Facebook about this action).

Let’s explore each one of these in a bit more detail…

Facebook is asking us to verify our domains so that we have one “official” domain that belongs only to us and is linked to our account in Business Manager. Before you will be allowed to create any new conversion ads, you will need to have a verified domain linked to your account. UPDATE: You are now able to verify multiple domains and use all verified domains to create custom conversions.

QUICK REMINDER: Conversions ads are those that ask Facebook and Instagram users to take an action, such as providing an email address in exchange for a lead magnet or paying us in exchange for our paid courses. We use “events” like custom conversions or standard events to indicate to Facebook that someone who saw our ad also converted to a lead or a sale.. An “event” can be one of two things: a custom conversion that we set up using the ‘Thank-You’ page, or a Standard Event such as “Lead” or “Purchase.” Whenever we refer to “events” in this post, we are talking about these conversion events.

If my website URL is myawesomebusiness.com, that is my main domain and what I want to verify in my Business Manager account. When I want to run ads for my lead magnet, webinar or launch, I will set up my pages on my website where I have verified my domain.

 As an example, I create a webinar “Thank You” page using the URL myawesomebusiness.com/webinar-thank-you from which I will also create my custom conversion event.

The process of verifying a domain is slightly different depending on which software system you use to host your website and to build your landing pages.

 To help you verify your domain, we created this step-by-step guide that demonstrates how to verify your domain in WordPress.

ROAD BLOCK. PAY ATTENTION HERE.

UPDATE: You can now verify multiple domains and use any verified domain to create a new custom conversion. We still recommend that you use subdomains with software systems that does not run from your own domain but you can verify without using a sub domain and you can create custom conversions with these third party software systems.

 

Because Facebook will only allow us to create conversion events that are linked to our verified domain, it can be complicated if you have a website that lives on WordPress but you buyild landing pages on third-party software systems like Kajabi, LeadPages, or ClickFunnels.

 Most of these platforms will allow you to integrate a subdomain with their software. A subdomain is a “baby” domain that you register with your domain registration company – e.g., GoDaddy or BlueHost – and can be anything you want to add in front of your primary domain. In our example, I may want to use learn.myawesomebusiness.com as my subdomain.

If I want to continue to use third-party software systems like Kajabi, LeadPages, or ClickFunnels to build landing pages, I will need to follow the instructions they provide to integrate my subdomain with their platform.

In our continuing example, after I have integrated my subdomain on a platform like Kajabi, Facebook would allow me to use learn.myawesomebusiness.com/lead-thank-you to create my event or custom conversions. 

Before you sign up for any webinar hosting platforms or landing page builders, check that you can link your subdomain to that platform. You will save yourself much frustration as you start setting up your ads.

Facebook now limits us to only eight conversion events per account. The limit of eight events includes standard events (e.g., Leads, Purchase, View Content, etc.), and it also includes any custom conversions you create using your “Thank You” page URLs. 

Yes, you read that right: we now have only eight conversion events, and we have to choose those eight events long before we want to run ads. It now takes up to 48 hours for an event to be approved by Facebook.

With losing such a significant portion of our audiences, we will receive limited information from our webpages to the pixel. As such, Facebook is making us rank our eight events in order of importance and will only report the event that is highest in that ranking.

You will have to choose which eight events matter most by ranking them in order of importance; and you will only receive data on the highest ranking event. If someone opts in for a webinar and then purchases your course, you will only receive data on the one event you tell Facebook is most important to you. (Naturally, we want to rank sales higher than leads.)

 If you are just getting started and only have one or two conversion events that you use to build your email list, you can select just two events. You do not need to fill the eight events if you do not have eight events yet.

QUICK REMINDER: Standard Events encompass all your custom conversions that also meet the criteria of the standard event. All of your lead magnet custom conversions can also be Lead events and your course sales custom conversions can all fall under one standard purchase event. Custom conversions are hyper-specific events created from just one specific “Thank You” page. I can have many Lead events for all my lead magnets, but I can only have one custom conversion for my Five-Day Video Training lead magnet.

The ranking of events could look something like the following:

Pixel/Custom Conversion Event Name
Your PixelLead
Custom ConversionYour custom conversion for your lead magnet
Your PixelView Content
Custom ConversionYour custom conversion for your second lead magnet
Your PixelView Content
Your PixelPurchase

Here is a screenshot of my events along with the priorities of conversion I am tracking in the next few months:

salome table

How you choose to rank your conversion events is up to you.

Real Life Example

I am launching my online course with a webinar in which I will be running list building ads in the leadup to my launch. After building my list for a few weeks, I run ads to fill up my webinar, and I will run sales ads when enrollment for my course opens.

We have one conversion event for the list building ads, one for the webinar ads, and another for the sale event. That takes up three events of the eight Facebook has allotted us. My lead magnet and my webinar thank you pages also have Lead standard events on, and my sales page has a Purchase event on.

Facebook is only going to show me data for the highest ranking event.

In this case, I want to see results for sales over webinar registrations, and I want to see webinar registrations over lead magnet downloads. I will rank my eight events in this order so that I see results for the event I value the most.

Though you do not need to have all eight events defined, you will need to have any new event you want to run ads to be defined in the Events Manager. You should take the time now to choose your eight (or fewer) events in the order you deem most appropriate. 

To help you set up your eight conversion events in the Events Manager, we created this step-by-step guide.

Facebook is creating an entirely new way for us to measure the results of events that happen on web pages (i.e., all of our conversion events). Facebook calls this Conversion API, which is a very uncreative coding name for a fancy new tool. At the moment, this fancy tool is so new that even Facebook – and experienced coders – can’t explain in plain English how to use it. 

Keep checking back here for updates, which we’ll share as we figure out the Conversion API.

The way we track users from a Facebook or Instagram ad to a webpage, where a user converts to a lead or sale, is drastically changing. The change comes as a result of us losing “sight” of a very large percentage of users online as Apple rolls out the option to opt out of being tracked online.

Not being able to “see” such a large part of our audiences will mean that we have to change the way we set up our campaigns, the way we interpret the data we get from Facebook, and what we do with that data to scale our campaigns.

Right now, to make the shift, we all should verify our domains and select our eight conversion events in Events Manager.

Most importantly, we must all keep in mind that we are in uncharted territory. As we navigate these changes, we will become smarter marketers and develop brand new tools that will ultimately help us to make informed decisions about how we advertise online. 

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