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Facebook isn’t happy about Apple’s upcoming ad tracking restrictions

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Apple’s upcoming operating system iOS 14 (currently in public beta) could have a big impact on publishers who work with Facebook’s  ad network — at least, according to Facebook.

The company published a couple of blog posts yesterday outlining the potential impact of a major privacy change that Apple announced at WWDC — namely, the fact that Apple will explicitly ask users whether they want to opt-in before sharing the IDFA identifier with app developers, who can then use it to target ads.

In response, Facebook said it will not be collecting this data on its own apps, but it suggested that the bigger impact will be on the Facebook Audience Network, which uses Facebook data to target ads on other publishers’ websites and apps.

“Like all ad networks on iOS 14, advertiser ability to accurately target and measure their campaigns on Audience Network will be impacted, and as a result publishers should expect their ability to effectively monetize on Audience Network to decrease,” the company said. “Ultimately, despite our best efforts, Apple’s updates may render Audience Network so ineffective on iOS 14 that it may not make sense to offer it on iOS 14.”

In fact, the company said that in testing, it found that without targeting and personalization, mobile app install campaigns brought in 50% less revenue for publishers, and it warned, “The impact to Audience Network on iOS 14 may be much more.”

To get a sense of how serious this might be, I reached out to a number of companies and investors in the adtech world. Ron Thomas, general manager for analytics at App Annie (which is moving into ad analytics), described this as “an acknowledgement from a top publisher that IDFA is truly gone and attribution in this post IDFA world is changing.”

And Brian Quinn, U.S. president and general manager at mobile ad attribution company AppsFlyer, said Facebook’s announcement is “a clear message to the market.”

“The possibility of losing Facebook Audience Network as a major source of revenue can potentially devastate the smaller publisher and developer communities on a global scale, which in turn would impact users worldwide that value and utilize apps as they navigate through their daily lives,” Quinn told me via email. “The ability to deliver relevant ads to users  – and prove their effectiveness through attribution – is integral for publishers and developers to build sustainable businesses around their apps and deliver quality content that users love.”

He went on to suggest that “it’s possible to give users control over their data and still provide developers transparency through privacy-centric attribution solutions.”

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Others have been more skeptical about the way Facebook is framing the news. For example, famed gadget reviewer Walt Mossberg suggested that we’ll be seeing more “griping about this from Facebook and other leaders of the toxic ad tech privacy theft industry,” but he argued that rather than hurting publishers, all the change in iOS does is “give consumers clear choices.”

Similarly, Jason Kint of Digital Content Next (a trade body representing publishers like The New York Times and Condé Nast) scoffed that Facebook is “pretending to be the messenger of what’s good for publishers,” and he suggested that the company is using Audience Network publishers to deflect from its broader data collection practices.

“A majority of Facebook’s data collection happens across other company’s services and feeds the mothership,” Kint tweeted. (At the same time, Kint and his organization have other concerns about Apple’s control over the ecosystem.)

This isn’t the first time in recent weeks that Facebook has criticized Apple. Earlier this month, the company announced support for paid online events but complained that Apple wasn’t waiving its customary 30% fee. In both cases, Facebook’s language has been mild — but in the platitude-filled world of corporate PR, it still feels remarkable for the company to be challenging Apple so openly.

In a statement emailed to reporters, James Currier of venture capital firm NFX suggested that this conflict is a sign that history is repeating itself:

In 2009 at the beginning of the Facebook platform, you could build an app on Facebook, go viral and gain millions of followers. But Facebook slowly shut down all the viral channels and put an ad server in the way, meaning app creators had to pay to get traffic. Facebook extracted what money they could from the app developers. Similarly, at the beginning of the iOS platform, Facebook could be an app on iOS and get millions of users. Now Apple is going to slowly shut off the oxygen in order to take the value for themselves. This is the law of the jungle and the network effect makes it pretty clear who has the power: iOS.

Beyond Facebook, Apple and the publishers in the Audience Network, Eric Franchi of marketing- and media-focused VC MathCapital suggested that the changing landscape around privacy and ad-tracking is creating new opportunities for startups (including his own portfolio companies zeotap and ID5).

“Facebook’s commentary underscores a) how dependent the marketing ecosystem is on a couple of operating systems and platforms and b) the importance of user identification in making digital marketing work,” Franchi wrote. “We think there is opportunity here for new forms of consent-driven identity solutions to step up.”

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5 Effective Ways to Run Facebook Ads A/B Tests

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Facebook Ads A/B Tests or split tests help them try different versions of ads with various campaign elements. This process helps them arrive at the best version for the organization’s target. 

A/B Tests offer a vast pool of resources to try out various versions. You may get caught up and lose your way to arriving at the best version in a limited time. To better understand this topic you can read the Facebook ad testing guide. Here are five effective ways to run Facebook Ads A/B Tests-

1) Start with the minimal number of variables

This approach will help you analyze the impact of a variable much better. The lesser the variables, the better will be the relevant results and more conclusive. Once you have various versions, you will need to run them through the A/B Significance Test to determine if the test results are valid.

2) The second way is to select the correct structure. 

There are two structures in A/B tests. One is a single ad test, and the other is multiple single variation ad sets. All the variations will go under one ad set in the first structure. Each variation will be under a separate ad set in the second one. Out of the two, the second one works out to be better and gives better results.

3) Use of spreadsheets is important to stay organized. 

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These spreadsheets help collect and analyze data to get meaningful insights and arrive at data-backed decisions.

4) Do target advertising and set realistic time goals. 

One approach is to choose an entirely new set of audiences. Also, the data pool should be vast and not the same as some existing campaigns. The reason for choosing a different audience is that Facebook may mix up your ads and give contaminated output. 

Another approach to choosing the right audience is to pick geography. It works better, especially when you have business in a particular region.   

It’s also essential to set a realistic timeline for your testing. Facebook suggests one should run a test for at least four days, but you can choose to run the test for up to 30 days.   

5) Set an ideal budget. 

The concept of a perfect budget is subjective. But, you can fix it yourself, or Facebook can do that for you based on your testing data. A large part of the test budget is spent on avoiding audience duplication. If the same audience sees variations, it could affect the test results.

Besides these top five effective ideas, you will need to take a few more action points to make the testing process efficient. Make sure you put the website’s domain link and not the landing page link in the ad, as that doesn’t look good. Put appropriate Call To Action Button, such as ‘Learn More,’ ‘Buy Now,’ etc. It’s also important to see how your ad is coming across on various electronic gadgets- mobile, tablets, etc.

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Another strategy that works is trying to engage the customer. You may add social engagement buttons such as ‘Like’ or ‘Comment.’ Use high-resolution images as they work better with the customers. Low-quality, highly edited images are often not liked and trusted by the consumers.

You can learn more about the audience behavior patterns with A/B test results. Conducting these tests on Facebook streamlines the entire process and makes it smooth for you. With the test results, advertisers and marketers can work on the creatives they need to utilize.

To sum it up, you can run an effective A/B test campaign within the specified budget. You don’t need to spend massive amounts to get your advertisement right. You’ll make the correct assumptions about the performance of variations with a good understanding of business and consumers.

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