September 1, 2023

The Evolving Landscape of Facebook Ads – Navigating Changes and Privacy Concerns

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The Evolving Landscape of Facebook Ads – Navigating Changes and Privacy Concerns

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Ahhh Facebook. Remember the days when it was all just about connecting with long lost friends, sharing pictures of your trips and pets, and “poking” each other? Then Facebook got serious and I’m not sure I can remember a time when it hasn’t been part of the digital advertising world anymore. The platform is still one of the most dominant players in the world of digital advertising, offering businesses a powerful space to reach their target audience with precision and efficiency. Recent changes, however, have altered the landscape of Facebook ads, prompting businesses and marketers to adapt their strategies and navigate new privacy concerns. Read on to find out how they may impact you and your business (and what you can do about it).

Facebook Before & After

Back in the day, Facebook allowed advertisers to micro-target users based on a variety of parameters, including purchasing power, spending habits, and even industry-specific preferences. This level of granular targeting gave marketers unprecedented control over their campaigns. It was a fine time to advertise on the platform and great results were seen all around. But the abundance of personal information that was available for targeting flagged concerns for many about privacy and user content. Understandably, people were starting to realize that they didn’t want so much of their personal information in such a public space.

Then came the iOS updates from Apple, allowing users to opt out of Facebook tracking while using the app—a truly significant change that shook the advertising industry. Suddenly, control was given back to the user and this sparked many debates and a lot of concern among advertisers, who relied heavily on that user data to be able to effectively target their ads. But while many saw the change as intimidating, I think it can also be viewed as a positive step towards safeguarding user privacy.

Now, advertisers can no longer access detailed personal information about users UNLESS the users have willingly provided it within the app. This means that marketers now need to reevaluate their targeting strategies and focus on alternative approaches. Gone are the days when they could rely solely on extensive user profiles. Instead, businesses must now target users based on their likes and preferences within the app.

How Does This Affect You?

As a user of the platform, it’s important to consider what these changes mean for you. For example, if you’re the kind of person who frequently likes random pages or accepts invitations to pages that have nothing to do with what you like or are interested in, chances are you’re going to see a lot of ads that have absolutely nothing to do with you. Your interactions on Facebook will heavily influence the ads you encounter. By turning off tracking in iOS, you’re essentially limiting the data Facebook can collect about you. What this also means, however, is that the ads you see could be based on your activity within the app rather than on your broader preferences. So, if you’re using the platform mainly to network and talk about your business, it’s likely you’ll see a lot more ads geared toward this.

As business owners and marketers, knowing about these changes also has implications for you. Because while they may present more challenges for you in how you target your audience, they can also open up new possibilities. Marketers now have the opportunity to refine their ad targeting strategies by focusing on engaging users based on their genuine interests and interactions within the app. So, instead of relying on assumed data, it’s possible to pivot towards more authentic and relevant advertising experiences which, in turn, creates a greater sense of connection with the people you want to attract.

What Do You Need To Do?

While we’ve seen significant changes already being made, the landscape is constantly evolving so it’s important to keep up with the changes and how this impacts you and your business. What’s key, though, is to prioritize transparency and value in your ad campaigns. By crafting compelling content and delivering meaningful messages, you’re able to build trust with your target audience, even in the absence of the highly personalized targeting you once were able to use. It’s important to adapt your approach so that it resonates with users based on shared interests, values, and genuine engagement.

And while that can seem quite limiting, I totally believe it’s an opportunity to evolve how we market our businesses and grow. Here are tips on how to manage and navigate through these changes:

👉🏻 Don’t be afraid to experiment and test. The best way to find the audience that’s going to be a winner is through testing and experimenting. And my favorite way to do just that is through A/B campaigns.

👉🏻 Install the Pixel. If you’ve been putting this off, you’re missing out on critical data. It’s difficult to really tell how an ad is performing if you don’t have the Pixel in place on the pages you’re sending your audience to. Which brings us to…

👉🏻 Keep an eye on the data. Too often I hear users creating a boost campaign and not much else, feeling like the ad is working because they’re gaining new followers. When it comes to ads, here’s the top 4 metrics I always keep an eye on:

  1. Cost – Of course I want to know how much I’m spending. This includes total cost as well as cost-per-click (CPC) and cost-per-lead (CPL).
  2. Impressions & Reach – I want to know how far my ad is going. This is also going to be an important metrics for figuring out the conversion rate, as noted in the next one…
  3. Leads/Results – Depending on the type of ad you’re running, you’ll set your target during set up (for example ‘Leads’ or ‘Purchases’ – keep in mind these are tracked by the Pixel). Depending on the ad campaign goals and targets, general conversion rate is around 2%-10% (this can be higher if you’re targeting a warm audience). If you’re running an ad with a paid offer on a cold list, the conversion rate will likely be lower. A free offer on a niched down list will typically see a higher conversion rate.
  4. Frequency – This tells me how often a single user is seeing my ad. In general, my goal is to keep this under 2-4 (depending on the ad I’m running). For example, if I go with ‘2’ as my market, this means I want to limit each user to seeing my ad no more than 2 times.

👉🏻 Diversify your advertising channels and strategies. Relying solely on Facebook ads will no longer guarantee the same level of precision targeting you once had. Google, LinkedIn, TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, etc. all have powerful ad platforms for reaching your audience, it’s just a matter of figuring out where your audience is and building your campaign there.

👉🏻 Prioritize transparency and value in your ad campaigns. By crafting compelling content and delivering meaningful messages, you’re able to build trust with your target audience despite not being able to use highly personalized targeting like you once were.

What this shifting environment is also showing us is that it’s important to diversify your advertising channels and strategies. Relying solely on Facebook ads will no longer guarantee the same level of targeting precision you once had. Look at exploring other platforms and avenues for reaching your audience—this will help mitigate the potential impact of these changes. Using a mix of social media platforms, search engine marketing, collaborations with influences, and content marketing can create a well-rounded advertising strategy that will reach your target audience effectively and meet them where they’re at.

Embrace The Changes

It’s clear that the changes in how we target our Facebook ads have massively disrupted the way things were for all marketers and businesses. And while the limitations of micro-targeting and the increased emphasis on user privacy create a challenge that demands a fresh approach to advertising, it’s also a significant opportunity. Businesses can now pivot towards more genuine and relevant interactions and connections with their audience and, by prioritizing transparency, value, and diversifying advertising strategies, businesses are able to navigate this evolving landscape and keep connecting with their target audiences more effectively.

I say try to embrace the changes! In the long run, you’ll see stronger connections with the right kinds of clients and that can only be a good thing.

If you’re looking for inspiration about how to diversify your marketing efforts in the wake of these changes, why not drop me a DM and let’s have a chat!

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