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How Accurate Is the Data That Facebook Is Reporting?

The iOS 14.5 update that arrived in April 2021 has had wide-ranging impacts across various platforms that digital marketers depend on to promote their brands. But nowhere has the impact of iOS 14.5 been more heavily felt than on Facebook. Many advertisers have found that their Facebook-related campaign data has become unreliable in the wake of this key privacy update.

It’s no mystery why this is happening. This update was devised with the intention of protecting the personal data of consumers using iOS devices; it does this by making IDFA availability—which advertisers use for conversion tracking—an “opt in” feature. Apple refers to this privacy framework as App Tracking Transparency (ATT). 

In practice, it means that a particular iOS user’s IDFA will be blocked unless they explicitly allow its use. And it’s clear that most people aren’t opting in. 

As a direct result of iOS 14.5, marketers are seeing distortions in their Facebook metrics—there seems to be a broad-based tendency toward overreporting and (more commonly) underreporting of this data. A lot of events just aren’t being captured under the new framework. To make matters worse, data reported by the Facebook SKAdNetwork API can be delayed up to three days.

What particular data sets are being affected by all these changes? They include but are not limited to:   

  • Number of landing page views   
  • Cost per result   
  • Number of returning users 
  • View-through conversions
  • Return on advertising spend (ROAS)

Due to widespread underreporting, these figures can no longer be relied on to provide an accurate view of consumer behavior. Conversions that used to be linked to a consumer’s demographic data (e.g., age, gender) are now often recorded as “uncategorized.” It’s obviously a big problem for marketers who try to make data-driven decisions to steer their campaigns. 

This is not the first time that Facebook has had issues with inaccurate events tracking data. For instance, back in 2016 the platform confessed that it had been miscalculating Average Duration of Video Viewed times for years. Similar issues have plagued other important metrics, such as Like and Share reporting. 

For its part, Facebook has taken steps on its end to improve conversion tracking on the platform in the post-iOS 14.5 era. Its Aggregated Event Measurement (AEM) framework—which works similarly to Apple’s Private Click Measurement (PCM)—is designed to provide accurate tracking in compliance with the new privacy policies. 

Some progress on this front is evident. In February 2022, Facebook announced that it had successfully reduced the underreporting of iOS-related conversions from 15% to around 8%. Still more needs to be done, however. 

You Don’t Have to Rely on Facebook for Reporting

To ensure optimal campaign performance, other tools are required. That’s what AdBeacon is for. Built by advertisers for advertisers, AdBeacon allows marketers to use their own first-party data to create targeted campaigns, relieving them of the need to depend on Facebook and its often misleading data. 

Additional benefits include user-defined lookback windows, an easy-to-use interface modeled on the familiar Facebook UI, and real-time ROAS metrics.

Sign up with AdBeacon today and get a free 14-day trial.