iSO14.5 & Facebook Ads. Is the Sky Falling?
There has been a lot of handwringing about the latest iOS14.5 updates to all of our customer's iPhones and iPads. The consternation is not misplaced, but it's important to realize that the sky isn't falling IF you take the right approach with your marketing strategy. Even so, you might encounter some turbulence from some Cupertino cumulus clouds but you'll survive and thrive. On the other hand, if you built your business on the back of Facebook Ads, it's time to be concerned and make quick adjustments to your plans.
At IMA, we have been conferring with the Resistance (fellow agency owners and FB Ads consultants) and reading between the lines when conversing with the Empire (our Facebook representatives). Before we get into the details the key thing to understand is that this only affects activity outside of Facebook. This will affect data that is collected in apps and on websites. This has zero effect on data collected while people use Facebook and Instagram. Remember, the Facebook pixel tracks you where you go online. Read some news, watch YouTube videos, buy some groceries, Facebook knows and stores this data to use in their Ad Manager targeting. This is the data that has been reduced by the new changes.
Lead Generation vs Ecommerce - Which is in Better Shape?
I'm an optimist, so let's start with the good news. Companies with Apps on the Apple App Store will be most affected by this update. Those companies are going to lose a large swath of data on Facebook. The second type of client that will be most affected is ecommerce companies. The data ecom companies harvest during the cart sequence and pass back to Facebook is deep.
If you're like most of our clients you rely more on lead generation for your business. The good news is that you do not have an app or ecommerce shop. Your campaigns are focused on lead generation.
Now, lead generation efforts will be affected. Just like ecom carts, you likely have a schedule service funnel and this data will be affected. You will not be able to build custom audiences for iOS users in the same way we did before for customers who started to schedule service and then abandoned the process. Your digital marketing agency will need to account for this change or performance will suffer.
Also, the attribution tools will be affected. The 28-day conversion window is going away. There will only be a 7-day window. This will reduce the amount of data available but could also increase the quality of those people since they were most recently interacting with your site. Higher intent, in theory.
The biggest issue for companies using Facebook Ads for lead generation is that Custom Audiences have less volume since people will be able to opt out. At IMA, we use lots of Custom Audiences to get website visitors back to your site to convert. We will now be limited to eight custom events based on each client's pixel activity. This is close to what we currently use so we don't foresee too much disruption here but we're keeping a close eye on it.
What Data Will Survive?
Lookalikes should not be affected. Lookalikes can still be generated in the following ways and are not affected by iOS14.5.
1. Your customer email list that we upload to Facebook
2. People's behavior on Facebook and Instagram.
This data is 100% within Facebook (referred to as 1st Party Data) and immune to these changes. Lookalikes are a crucial tool in our strategy and we're relieved that they are (essentially) performing as they always have.
The Dynamic Ads tool is also performing (essentially) the same since the majority of the signals that power that tool takes place on FB/IG. There will be some loss, for instance, if someone was recently on a specific page on your website the Dynamic Ad tool would previously know that and serve a related ad image or text. We already account for some of this by the way we structure your campaigns in a granular way but we'll be keeping a close eye on this possible issue.
Cook vs Zuckerberg
This will not be the last consumer privacy-focused change coming to the social networks that you use to advertise your business. Apple is running a massive PR campaign based on consumer privacy and this campaign is an effective marketing differentiator that they are going to bleed dry.
To make our client's strategy "antifragile" we will continue to follow our Digital Marketing Quadrant philosophy. The core of the DMQ concept is attracting and nurturing new leads through different parts of the buyer's journey. By continuing to leverage Top, Middle, and Bottom of funnel tactics on Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms we can sidestep these iOS issues and stay in control of the data that powers our client's campaigns. This approach is more important than ever.
This is a great time to double down on building direct relationships with your potential customers. Increasing your email list of prospects allows you to communicate directly with them without the need to run ads or be reliant on an individual platform like Facebook. Ads and targeting are not going away but the motivation to build your email list of prospects should be as high, or higher, than ever.
It's important to note that users are now presented the opportunity to allow Facebook and Instagram to continue to track them. This Opt-In/Out option is presented to all iOS users when they open an app. We don't know what percentage of people choose to trust Facebook with their data and click "Allow" but the early numbers coming out suggest it's only ~ 4%. If that percentage is accurate, well, the writing is on the wall.
The vast majority of Facebook's revenue comes from the ads that run on its platforms. If you have been paying any attention to Mark Zuckerberg and his team over the past 16 years you'll know that they are not the type of company to roll over and play dead. They are going to fight, via their technology, every step of the way. They are already working on First Party Cookies that will help to bypass this issue. However, it's very early days on this development and we won't know the full impact of their strategy for a few months, if not more. Nevertheless, alternative strategies will rise in reaction to these changes.
Why the Digital Marketing Quadrant is So Important
There is no need to be caught off guard. We believe in Facebook as an ad platform for our clients. We are committed to it. But we also developed our Digital Marketing Quadrant so our clients would have multiple channels (Facebook, Google, SEO, Email, etc) for lead generation and not be reliant on one platform for their revenue. This strategy sets our client's up for success regardless of that battles are being fought between the tech titans here in Silicon Valley.
If you're interested in reading more Facebook put out this helpful article. Be sure to share it with your agency or contractor.
We will also be updating this blog with relevant details as they emerge. In the meantime, if you have any questions or want to schedule a strategy call to review your Facebook account, just click here to grab a time that works for you.