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Apple tracking changes, CarGurus RPM, and you

Posted by Jeremy Sacco on March 30, 2021

As part of the constantly-evolving balance between advertising and user privacy, Apple recently announced some changes to their data privacy policies that will go into effect in iOS 14. While the changes will limit some tactics that marketers use today, we believe the overall impact will be manageable, and customers using CarGurus’ RPM platform will still be able to effectively reach a wide range of low-funnel buyers.

The change that has the most potential to impact dealers who are running digital marketing campaigns is that apps will have to ask users’ permission to use their phone’s Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA). The IDFA is the code that’s used to target specific people across multiple apps or websites, and is an important component of many digital advertising channels but is particularly important on Facebook.

The new policies also limit the amount of data about users that apps can track. One result of that change is that Facebook is shortening the “look back” period — how long after an ad click or view they claim credit for the visit — and limiting the number of different events advertisers can track.

What does this mean for RPM?

The main impact on RPM will be on the Facebook advertising component of the Premier and Unlimited tiers. Since users have to opt in before we can target them, it’s likely that the available audience will be smaller. That’ll be true for any advertising platform that brings their own targeting data to Facebook.

We don’t expect it to have a dramatic impact, though. First, it only applies to iOS users – not desktop and not Android. One source puts that at about 30% market share, and only about 20% of our Facebook spend for RPM is on iOS. Second, some of those iOS users will opt in to the tracking. We won’t get a good picture of how many for some time, but it will be interesting to track.

The change to the look back period will also impact RPM. Specifically, because Facebook will be looking at a shorter window for attribution, your performance metrics will decrease. The actual performance might not change, but some clicks or views that used to be counted towards your results will now fall outside that attribution window.

Finally, one change that you can address in advance is the limit to event tracking. You can go into your Facebook Business Manager and prioritize the RPM Facebook pixel’s three distinct events — VDP view, SRP view, and Lead — to make sure you still get reporting on those interactions. We also strongly recommend prioritizing the View Content events, as those are particularly important for campaign delivery and optimization.

So what next?

As of publication, these changes have not been rolled out, but they are expected in late March or early April. Of course we’re working hard to understand all the impacts these changes will have and to adapt our technologies and tactics as best we can.

If you have any questions, or want to make sure you’re as prepared as you can be, reach out to your CarGurus account rep to get more information, and rest assured we’re working hard to continue to get the best possible results across all of our marketing products.

Topics: digital marketing, rpm, tracking