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March 11, 2021

Apple is Killing Facebook Ads: How Your Ticket Sales Could Disappear Overnight

What would it mean for your event if Facebook Ads were no longer a viable way of generating ticket sales? New changes coming to Apple's iPhones and iPads could make this worrying situation a reality. For many event promoters, that could mean losing in excess of 50% of their overall ticket sales.

In June of 2020, Apple announced the latest release of its popular iOS and iPadOS software. Amongst a raft of modest feature improvements came one that sent the advertising world into a desperate scramble to preserve its most important asset – data, and the deluge of revenue that comes with it.

Users of Apple's software will soon be given more control over which apps are allowed to track their data across the web and other apps. And this is something that Facebook considers to be a total disaster.

It's not the first time Apple have upset Facebook with threats of increased privacy for its users. The desktop version of Safari, Apple's default internet browser, introduced similar tools way back in 2018. The difference? Safari pales in comparison to iOS in terms of popularity.

iOS Market Share by Region

Whilst iOS is less popular in less economically developed countries, it dominates the millennial markets in Europe, North America and Oceania meaning it's not something you can afford to ignore when planning your next campaign.

You care about your own privacy, as well as that of your customers to the extent of the law, but you also need to sell tickets. Facebook has always been a huge part of that effort – so what happens now?

What the iOS 14 update means for event promoters

When the changes are released by Apple, users will have the choice whether to allow Facebook to track their activity on other apps, as well as on their browser. As with 69% of millennials in the US concerned about privacy in the context of digital advertising, we can't imagine this will be a tough choice to make for many.

Facebook Privacy Prompt i OS

Source: BBC News

If a user decides not to allow their data to be shared with Facebook, you will not be able to retarget that user across Facebook's vast network. This includes Instagram and Audience Network (on which Facebook have said they'd stop running all personalised ads unless Apple changes its mind).

Facebook have a released a guide for advertisers with steps they can take to mitigate the impact of the iOS 14 update.

Measuring events on your website

You're highly likely to be using some form of conversion tracking on your website. This is how we can ensure we're not serving ads to users who have already purchased tickets (or only serve ads to those who have depending on what it is you're selling). To make sure these events are tracked successfully after the update, follow these important steps.

  • Make sure your domain is verified on Facebook, this will allow Facebook to ask for permission from Apple to continue tracking most events on your site
  • Familiarise yourself with what events will no longer be trackable on iOS 14 devices after the update, Facebook have released a separate guide for that

If you measure events inside an app

Apps for events have become increasingly popular in recent years. If your event has an app that allows users to purchase tickets or any other action you track for advertising purposes, make sure you follow these steps.

  • You'll need to ask your developer to update Facebook's SDK to the latest version (that's version 8.1)
  • Evaluate whether other parts of the app need to be updated to work with the latest version of Facebook's SDK

Future-proof your campaigns with Audience Republic

Pressure is already mounting on Google (owner of the mobile operating system Android) to tighten their privacy rules, this pressure will inevitably continue build after Apple has released their update. If Android decides to jump on the bandwagon of restricting third-party tracking, it's effectively game over for Facebook Ads – now is the time for promoters to consider broadening their approach to selling tickets online.

We believe the only real way for promoters to protect themselves from changes to the digital marketing landscape is to take ownership of their data. Sell more tickets, faster by amplifying your existing audience database.

At Audience Republic, we've helped more than 5,000 events and festivals reach more people and sell more tickets by turning fans to advocates. Leverage the authenticity of personal recommendations for your next event, create a free account today.

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Article by
Joshua Young

Josh is a Growth Marketer at Audience Republic. He has previously worked at Sydney Fringe Festival, Live Nation & Disney Channel.