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Sunday Email: What the f**k does Apple's new update mean

This email was sent out to my email list on December 20, 2020.

ArticlesNik Sharma

Hey you, happy Sunday!! This week felt so long, didn't it? Not to mention we got hit with Apple's new AppTracking Transparency (ATT) rules, which is what my email will be all about today.

BTW, if a friend forwarded this to you, you can click here to get these newsletters delivered to your inbox every Sunday.

I want to keep this brief, but if you could just take 5 seconds to quickly reply with how many hours of sleep you got last night, I would appreciate it 😊. I don't mean to brag, but I did get 9 hours & 13 min of sleep with a resting heart rate of 51 BPM πŸ˜‰.

And lastly, if you still need something juicy for Christmas, check out our Sharma Brands Gift Guide!

Ok, let's get into the juicy part of the email: What the f**k does Apple's new update mean for you as a brand, and what are some things I'm thinking on how I can combat this.

If you didn't see Facebook's memo they shared earlier this week, you can read it here. The TL;DR of the note is:

  • Apple is updating iPhones to give more transparency to users on their data (side note, we love when people are aware of their data), but it doesn't fully educate the consumer why that data is essential, especially for small businesses.
  • Apple's new AppTracking Transparency (ATT) will prompt users to opt-in to advertisers gaining access to the data, not just opt-out like it currently is set up.
  • Ad platforms (Facebook, Google, etc.) are now trying to figure out how to help their SMB advertisers get around this, mainly because so many brands use these platforms to build their businesses.

Facebook has made some pretty substantial progress, but here's what the iOS 14 update means for you as an advertiser:

  • You will not get all of the data fed back as you have thus far.
  • You will only get to track up to 8 conversion events as an advertiser (i.e., View Content, Button Click, Add to Cart, Initiate Checkout, Input Payment Information, Purchase, Subscription, etc.), and you will rank them in order of priority.
  • This means if someone goes to your site, adds a product to the cart, and buys, you'll ONLY see they purchased. You won't get the data back showing that person added to the cart and initiated checkout. You only see the latest event, granted that's how you prioritize your events.
  • If you don't have the Conversions API installed on your website, you're going to miss the opportunity to get as much data back as you possibly can. If you're on Shopify or Shopify Plus, make sure you have the new Facebook app installed to set this up.
  • If you're an advertiser using 28-day attribution, you need to figure out how to get customers to purchase faster or re-assess your numbers and CPA goals. They won't look the same.
  • In most cases, when users opt-out, you'll still get some signals passed back to FB ads via their aggregated events manager, which launches in the coming months.
  • If you're using the FB Insights API for attribution, you'll need to update that as well.

There's a lot of changes going on, and due to that, we are partnering up with a few experts to help brands transition through all this and make sure their ad accounts are set up for the changes coming. If you want to be one of the brands we work with to transition through, please fill out this form. The cost is $5k per month and will include the following:

  • A 3-Part Consult: Audit, Prepare, Transition
  • We will gather data from the ad account to assess risk with the new iOS change, look at event tracking, spend, and conversion vulnerabilities.
  • Then we will set up new tracking events, setup Conversion API, set up a new ad account structure (removing items like value optimization, cost cap, etc.), build new audiences, and create a more resilient account for the long term.
  • You can have this team on board for one month or three months; it’s up to you.

You can sign up here to join that. We are capping this at 15-20 brands, and it will be a white-glove service. Once you sign up, you'll get an email from our team with more information.

The question I've been getting all week is: what am I doing about these new rules going into 2021, and when does it begin?

As far as when it begins, no one knows; it's sometime between Jan and March when it will be implemented. In the meantime, it's crucial that you go into FB Business Manager to verify your domain and also make sure FB's Conversion API is correctly installed on your site.

A few things we're doing on our end:

  • Building Audiences/Prospecting CRM
  • Re-thinking FB DPA creative
  • Better last-click attribution

A Prospecting CRM

This thought came to me as something we've seen to lower our CPA this year, but it will be even more necessary with the new iOS 14 updates.

Everyone has a CRM or a database of their purchased customers, but now it will be just as essential to creating a CRM/database of people who have interacted with you and still have yet to buy.

The hook for this CRM can be as simple as creating a reason why a customer wants to give you their email address or phone number. On the other hand, it can be as custom as inputting your zip code + email address to get a JUDY emergency guide on the disasters you're most prone to encounter. In the end, you want to build a pool of qualified new customers, which also helps you shorten the required attribution window.

FB Dynamic Product Ad Creative

Dynamic Product Ads (DPAs) will still be a powerful advertising tactic, but there are easy ways to make them work harder for you by merely updating the creative.

Add simple elements to the creative that gets pulled into your catalog like:

  • Price Overlays
  • Discount callouts
  • Shipping callouts
  • Product benefit callouts

You can see more on this in this Substack article.

Better Last-Click Attribution

With the new update, it's going to be important for analytics and attribution platforms to tag your links correctly and leverage a post-purchase survey like Co-Op Commerce.

UTMs are what goes at the end of your URL to help your analytics platforms. You may have seen them commonly like "utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=cpa" or something similar. I highly recommend that everything from an organic social post, paid ads, influencer ads, etc., uses a UTM in the URL.

You can create UTM parameters with ease using a free UTM Builder like this.

If you don't like the way it looks, you can mask it, so it looks clean. Look at the long URL that populates when you click for an example.

Secondly, you'll need to try to get the most out of a customer while they're on your site. When someone purchases, you want to make sure you ask them how they heard about your brand. You can use a tool like Co-Op Commerce, which offers post-purchase surveys in their standard/free offering. Get that here.

Hopefully, between all of this, you can navigate the uncertain waters of iOS 14. Of course, as I learn more or find new ideas, I will share them here.

The last thing I would say is this is a great wake-up call that you need to invest in your brand. Don't just rely on ads, because that never wins in the long term. Also, dive deeper into affiliate/branded content. Next week, my newsletter will be ALL about how to create better affiliate/branded content programs.

Now onto some fun stuff.

Software/App of the Week:

Entrepreneur OS (on Notion)

I hired this guy named Tem earlier this year to help me organize Notion in a way that works well for Sharma Brands, and in the process, he also helped me get set up personally on Notion. He created all kinds of templates that I still use today. It costs me a few thousand, but it was well worth it.

Tem just released Entrepreneur OS for $99, and I highly recommend getting it to get your work-life organized for 2021.

Check it out here:

DTC Brand of the Week:

Fly By Jing.

If you love Asian flavors in your food, you absolutely must try Fly By Jing's Sichuan Chili Crisp. I put it on everything from Pizza to eggs, and it's excellent as a marinade as well.

Plus, you can use SHARMA20 for 20% off!

If you need more last-minute Christmas Deals, check out our Gift Guide we put together full of deals and exclusive codes.


Lastly, I just wanted to thank you for signing up and opening and reading these weekly emails. I get some exciting replies back, which always keep me motivated and excited to keep writing these tactical newsletters. If we don't already know each other, you can still reply and say hi! It comes right to my inbox.

I hope you have a wonderful and light week, and get those 9 hours 😊 If you haven't told me how many hours you got last night, do that too. πŸ˜‰

Happy Holidays!


Nik Sharma

CEO, Sharma Brands