Facebook Underreporting iOS Ad Results After Apple Privacy Change

Facebook has acknowledged the impact that Apple’s recent privacy change is having on its core advertising businesses.

In a blog post this week, Facebook said it is underreporting the results of its advertising business on Apple iOS devices by approximately 15 percent.

It comes after Apple implemented a privacy change this year – a move that was fiercely opposed by Facebook and the advertising industry.

App tracking

The issues stems from when Apple in April this year released its iOS 14.5 update, which required apps to ask for permission to track your activity online.

If an app was launched on a device running iOS 14.5, an “App Tracking Transparency” (ATT) label should display and ask the user whether they agree to let the app track them across other companies’ apps and websites.

Essentially, this ‘nutrition label’ explains to the user just what the app will do with their personal data. Consumers who opt-out of tracking will likely see fewer relevant adverts.

But this was a major concern for the mobile advertising industry, as well as companies such as Facebook, which could see advertising revenue decline as much as $3 billion annually.

Other firms are equally concerned, and Snapchat for example said it was exploring ways to circumvent Apple’s ban on tracking iPhone users.

Facebook however has been the most vocal opponent of the change, and launched an ad campaign last year slamming Apple, claiming the new technology would be “devastating” to smaller businesses.

In July last year a group of European digital advertising associations slammed Apple for not adhering to an ad-industry system for seeking user consent under European privacy rules.

Underreporting conversions

Now Facebook this week in its blog post acknowledged that the privacy changes from the iPhone maker has made it more expensive and difficult for brands to advertise on Facebook.

“The cost of achieving your business outcome may have increased and it’s also gotten harder to measure your campaigns on our platform,” Facebook admitted. “In some cases, this is due to underreporting on our part.”

“Our estimate is that in aggregate we are underreporting iOS web conversions by approximately 15 percent; however there is a broad range for individual advertisers,” it added. “We believe that real world conversions, like sales and app installs, are higher than what is being reported for many advertisers. We are committed to helping you better measure these outcomes and improve your performance.”

In the blog post, Facebook outlined a number of steps advertisers should take to better measure the results of their ads.

The platform also said it is investing in new tools and capabilities to help brands with their marketing amid the Apple changes.

“We are confident the actions above will continue to provide even more value to you over time,” said Facebook. “Our top priority is making sure that you’re able to reach current and new customers, drive your marketing objectives and measure the performance of your advertising campaigns while helping you honour customers’ choices around privacy.”

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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