When our agency knew the big change for Apple's privacy settings was coming - we laid out the new expectations for our DTC advertisers. The reality was the future was unknown! Was our conversion tracking going to take a nosedive? How would we know that Facebook - which was a goldmine of conversion tracking data in the past - was still a good place to advertise? All we knew was Facebook was working to model the data and we needed to start beefing up our first party data.
The truth is worse than we expected in some ways - new data shows just 14% of Americans have opted to let their iPhone apps track their phone activities off-app. That means when someone with an iPhone buys something from a Facebook ad there is an 86% chance we won't be able to follow them through the funnel to the purchase phase. While Facebook is attempting to model the conversion data it's near impossible to rely on their data with this big of a discrepancy.
And it's not as bad as it seems just yet - for now Android sales can be tracked from click to purchase. Android has roughly 46% of the smartphone market.
As a small case study: We have a client running an ad with a promotion code. Facebook has registered ONE sale from the ads but the Shopify site is showing 7 people using the code. How's that for a discrep!? Now you know why Facebook is so pissed at Apple for these changes.
Many advertisers are now turning to new methodology for tracking conversions - and ditching the direct ROAS that is going to soon be (if it isn't already) wildly inaccurate. This website has some fantastic examples of how marketers are navigating these changes - from conversion strategies to how they advertise overall.
Before we all hit the panic button - let's remember that historically MOST forms of DTC advertising have had no form of attribution beyond sales lift. How did Ovaltine know radio was working? How did Coca Cola know TV ads were effective? The simple answer was sales! Digital technology has absolutely SPOILED us with data and information - to the detriment of some really effective ad mediums like TV & radio that can't track the clicks. (And yes - new tech promise to track offline attribution but that's a whole 'nother very complicated topic!).
For now - We suggest tracking your ad-driven sales using methods like sales codes and utm codes. Lean in on your site and sales analytics to understand where your customers are coming from. Consider running "regional" campaigns to assess sales lift by region vs. untargeted regions. And ultimately: know that if you had a lift in sales but Facebook isn't showing correlating performance - your campaign is probably a victim of the new privacy-first world.