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Apple tightens its restrictions on Facebook ad tracking: what this means for you

Apple and Facebook have been throwing many criticisms at each other in the press recently, and it all centres around privacy changes Apple plans to make with the upcoming release of a particular update to iOS, the operating system built into iPhones. It’s a move that threatens to curb the effectiveness of Facebook ads. 

In a nutshell, Apple will soon be requiring developers – including Facebook – of apps on the platform to ask users for permission before being able to track them across other companies’ apps and websites. This could significantly affect how you should use Facebook to mine the strongest returns from your PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising.

A rundown of what the privacy-focused iOS update will involve 

On iPhones, users can already toggle on a feature called Limit Ad Tracking (LAT) to prevent marketers from tracking them online and so, there, targeting them with tailored ads. However, Apple has revealed that, in “early spring”, a similar App Tracking Transparency feature will arrive and be turned on by default.  

Once App Tracking Transparency is on people’s iPhones, it will enable these users to see, in the Settings app, which apps have sought permission to track them. While users can allow or bar tracking as they see fit, those who are particularly privacy-minded are likely to opt out in many instances. 

Facebook declares App Tracking Transparency a threat to small businesses  

Facebook has hit out at Apple for this change – perhaps unsurprisingly given that, according to data from Statista, 79.9% of Facebook users worldwide only use the social media platform on a mobile phone. 

In an article titled “Speaking Up for Small Businesses”, Facebook’s VP of Ads and Business Products, Dan Levy, has claimed: “Our studies show, without personalised ads powered by their own data, small businesses could see a cut of over 60% of website sales from ads.”

How can you adjust your Facebook advertising in response?

The good news is that, if your business has traditionally been very reliant on promoting itself through Facebook’s PPC ads scheme, all is not lost. Even Facebook says it does not expect the changes to fully prevent firms, at least not abruptly, from continuing to personalise Facebook ads to users. 

For the time being, you could use your Facebook Ads dashboard to exclude iOS devices from your campaigns aimed at converting Facebook users into paying customers. That way, you can help yourself to limit the amount of money you end up wastefully spending on ads rendered less efficient by the iOS update.

You don’t have to completely abandon targeting iOS users, though – as you could switch to using your website’s internal tracking to see when your Facebook advertising results in sales. You could also ask users for information about themselves at an earlier stage of the conversion process. 

If you are uncertain exactly how you should go about pursuing these strategies, we invite you to contact our web marketing gurus by phone on 01325 582112 or email via for advice and guidance.

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