How Apple’s iOS Update Impacts Automotive Facebook Ads (And the Actions Dealers Need to Take Now!)

How Apple’s iOS Update Impacts Automotive Facebook Ads (And the Actions Dealers Need to Take Now!)

“What the heck is going on with my Facebook advertising?” 

If you’ve heard this question from your marketing team or have asked it for yourself in the spring of 2021, you certainly aren’t alone. 

The rollercoaster that is Apple’s recent iOS 14 update and its impending negative impact on Facebook advertising has caused quite a bit of chaos among marketers across the globe. 

Since the Apple update has officially rolled out as of April 2021, many auto marketers are struggling to grasp just what this update means for their Facebook advertising success. 

In this post, we walk through what we know so far about iOS 14 and its impact on Facebook ads for auto dealers, as well as the actions dealers need to take in order to make the most out of their Facebook advertising dollars. 

What is This Update and Why Does it Impact My Automotive Facebook Advertising?

Apple releases software updates all the time, so why are advertisers panicking over the most recent iOS 14 update? 

This is due to the AppTrackingTransparency prompt that allows users to opt out of having their browsing activity tracked by Facebook (and all other apps) on Apple devices

Your marketing team should know that having the ability to track web browsing activity is a go-to strategy for serving relevant ads to current and potential customers. So as more people opt out of tracking, the audience available for ad targeting becomes smaller. 

Apple’s update also directly impacts how Facebook processes and reports on data. As a result, Facebook has moved from a pixel-based tracking system to Aggregated Event Measurement as a way to measure web events from iOS 14 users. 

The iOS 14 update and transition to Aggregated Event Measurement requires immediate action from auto dealers and other businesses advertising on Facebook. 

iOS 14 Action Items for Auto Marketers

If your marketing team opens up Ads Manager and is bombarded with notifications and warnings about this update, they may not know where to begin. 

That’s why we’re making it easier with three steps auto dealers need to take in order to find success with Facebook advertising moving forward. 

1. Verify Your Web Domain

The very first step your marketing team needs to take is to verify your domain. This is a necessary step in order to optimize your web events (more on that later). 

To verify your domain in Business Manager, head to “Business Settings” and navigate to “Domains” under “Brand Safety.” 

From here, follow these instructions from Facebook to complete the domain verification process. 

Not sure if your domain is verified? If the verification process has already been completed, you will see a “verified” message under the domain.

Verify your domain

2. Optimize Web Events

Once your domain is verified, you are able to configure up to eight web events as part of Facebook’s Aggregated Events Measurement tool. Facebook uses these events to optimize the ad delivery process. 

Facebook will use the events currently set up through the Facebook pixel in its Aggregated Events Measurement tool, however, advertisers will need to verify that these events and the order are set up correctly. 

To optimize events, navigate to Events Manager and select your pixel. Then, click “Configure Web Events” under the Aggregated Event Measurement tab. 

Aggregated Events Measurement

From here, search for your domain and click “Manage Events” to rearrange the order of events. For auto dealers, we recommend the “View Content” event remain a top priority as most automotive Facebook ads aim to direct people to view your inventory on your site. 

Optimize web events in Events Manager

To find more information on optimizing your events, explore Facebook’s resources on the topic. 

3. Strategically Expand Your Ad Targeting Audience

We know that custom audience size is going to decrease as a result of Apple’s update, but this doesn’t mean you can’t utilize custom audiences at all in your ad targeting. 

While auto marketers now have a smaller sample to pull from based on their web activity, you can still target your ads to qualified audiences. Consider focusing your targeting on the following audiences:

  • Custom list of past purchasers and/or service contacts from your CRM
  • Those that have interacted with your Facebook page (and a SAA based on this group of people)
  • Interest-based Facebook targeting options 

What About Dynamic Retargeting Ads for Auto? 

Unfortunately, auto dealers should expect to see a decrease in reach for dynamic retargeting campaigns, as this type of campaign is explicitly based on web activity. 

The good news is that dynamic retargeting campaigns will still run, as the iOS 14 update does not limit web tracking capabilities for non-Apple users and those shopping on desktop. 

Plus, app tracking opt-in rates are expected to be nearly 41%, much higher than the original 2%-20% estimate. While your audience size won’t be quite as large as it has been in the past, you will still be able to reach a good chunk of your audience with dynamic retargeting ads for auto dealers!

Stay Afloat with Facebook and iOS Updates

If you feel like you’re nearly drowning trying to consume all of the Facebook and Apple updates, you’re not alone. 

So much is unknown regarding the impact Apple’s AppTracking Transparency will have on auto marketers. One thing we are certain of is that Facebook will continue to be a marketing platform that’s worth the time and monetary investment. 

What questions do you have about Apple’s update and its impact on your dealership’s Facebook advertising? We’d love to hear from you! Get your free marketing assessment with our Facebook experts, and check out our wide variety of Facebook resources for automotive. 

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