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We Are Living In A Post-iOS 14 World. How Should Your Digital Ad Strategy Shift?

June 23, 2021

Growth Marketing & Strategy
Tye DeGrange
Mike McElhaney

You’ve made the Facebook-recommended changes to your advertising campaigns, now what?

So you followed our initial list of advertising suggestions to cover your iOS 14 update bases - but costs are increasing. We have seen costs increase ~25%  year-over-year and performance is more challenging than ever with increased competition and targeting levers removed. Some of this is due to the return of a number of pre-pandemic advertisers re-entering the advertising auction, and some due to iOS 14 targeting limitations. 

What is a marketer to do? Now that we have more than one month of data across our client base, we have recommendations on additional Facebook ad levers to experiment with along with additional advertising diversification options across well-established and emerging platforms in this post iOS 14 world.

4 Additional Facebook Ad Levers

We found success in improved ROAS by implementing the following across several of our clients' ad campaigns:

1. Test Lead Ad Campaigns to achieve more micro-conversions / leads within a shorter window of time (truncated attribution windows). Lead campaigns have had less adverse effects from the iOS14 changes than other campaign types, and brings the user into your email flow for more selling opportunities.

2. Use Conversions API to port your e-commerce conversions to Facebook so they can determine on their end how to better optimize. This serves as a helpful workaround to the iOS 14 requirements. This will require engineering / development resources and sharing a lot more of your eCommerce data with Facebook.

3. Hold out to test incrementality. Unfortunately, Facebook is no longer offering lift tests which is a significant change. An alternative is turning off Facebook ads for a few days to measure the incrementality of the revenue that it's driving downstream. You can employ this over 2-3 periods on the same days week-over-week to reach statistically significant results dependent on volume and spend.

4. Improve Creative and use AI to boost performance by focusing on:

- Problem-solving copy. A lever that is often overlooked is ad copy. Leading marketers excel with copy that stands out from the noise, complimenting attention grabbing imagery. We at RBL enjoy working with clients to better identify the problem for the customer. Customers ultimately care what problem you solve for them or what fantastic result you deliver for them. They don’t care about your specific product if it does not excel at those two. Copy that nails the problem and the core value proposition in a succinct way has become a necessity in a more competitive landscape. We have copy writers on staff and collaborate with client writers teams and founders. We will often A/B test a control and challenger headline copy to see what is resonating most and improve CTR, CPA and ad performance.

- Using quality creative that attracts attention. Images are rightfully the king of optimization given how much mindshare they take up in paid social ads like Facebook, Instagram, Snap and TikTok.

- Volume. As your media spend increases, you will need to increase the pace of creative refreshes to minimize ad fatigue. Social media algorithms are driven by machine learning and machine learning is fueled by volume of repetitions and learnings. While this is highly dependent on client budget, CAC, LTV, North Star metric goals and creative options, we wanted to share some frameworks for how to think about creative volume and testing. For most D2C ecommerce brands we recommend at least 10-20 different ads per ad set per month. This means 3-5 ads at one time that can add up to 10-20 ads over the course of the month if you're cycling in new variations.
This is where great tools like Pencil (an RBL partner) can be leveraged to rapidly create and test images, and easily identify which element of said images is performing best and can unlock gains in performance. So long as raw assets and brand guidelines exist, through Pencil, brands can generate creative that actually outperforms bespoke creative thanks to AI.

- Testing. Testing is critical in digital advertising and is at the heart of what we do as it is the key to growth. At RBL, we have experimentation backlogs where we document ideas to test based on customer personas, client needs, past performance, future estimates, and our many reps working with hundreds of e-commerce brands to stack rank experiments. Some of these are A/B tests and some are platform tests to see if we can get the most out of the evolving platform.

- Use video. The cost of Facebook video ads is 10% of the cost of carousel or single image ads. People gaze 5X longer at video than at static posts on Facebook which explains a lower overall cost.

Diversification of Advertising Beyond Facebook

While the additional recommendations above may help your brand with improved ROAS on Facebook, we also strongly recommend diversifying your advertising channels across established platforms such as Google & Microsoft (paid search, video including YouTube, display & shopping), Amazon, Pinterest, and Programmatic, as well as testing out emerging ad platforms such as Snap, TikTok, Reddit and Quora. While all of these channels are impacted if your users are on iOS, by testing and acquiring users on these channels you will not be as reliant on one channel. 

Additionally, depending on the stage of your brand’s growth, we strongly recommend Partner, Affiliate or Influencer Marketing (we view them as variants of a similar approach). Affiliate marketing allows brands to reach customers on websites with relevant customer audiences representing multiple stages of the user funnel (awareness, consideration, conversion) and pay when a user takes a specific action such as submitting a lead or purchasing their product. Like paid marketing, it does often require elements of guaranteed up front spend, but unlike Google, Facebook and programmatic, affiliate marketing allows for more of a pay-per-purchase/lead/other desired action type of approach.

Affiliate marketing enables brands access to thousands of sites ranging from niche blogs, gift guides, how-to sites, coupon/deal, loyalty / cash back points apps, to influencers across platforms like YouTube and TikTok. Examples include: Affirm, Klarna, Rakuten, RetailMeNot, WireCutter, AmEx rewards, BringATrailer, and access to thousands of bloggers in verticals like fashion, travel, family, tech, fitness, food, sports, entertainment, and others. 
As costs on ad platforms like Facebook have risen by 30% (Q1 year-over-year)(2) advertisers have flocked to new arenas to seek out new customers and nudge existing pools of prospects with varying interests and engagement. RBL has been fortunate to be involved in affiliate marketing since 2006. We have been involved in global affiliate programs for eBay, Amazon, Facebook (Oculus & Portal) and many more.

iOS14, Facebook update, Ad creative, advertising, mobile marketing, creative Facebook ads, artificial intelligence, performance marketing, scaled ad testing, creative A/B testing, video ads, video ad A/B testing, partner marketing, affiliate marketing, conversion rate optimization

Bonus Recommendation: Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

In each of my in-house and client supporting roles, I have been drawn to the art and science of landing page testing and conversion rate optimization. Identifying customer friction points for e-commerce brands is something that I enjoyed a lot in my work and wanted to ensure RBL clients could take advantage of in working with us.

Without spending any media dollars, CRO enables brands to run experiments on advertising landing pages to learn what users prefer and improve their conversion rate. As you can imagine this significantly increases the efficiency of their site in converting organic traffic as well as boosting the effectiveness of all paid marketing channels. 

Reach out to RBL to find out how we can help you thrive in this post-iOS 14 world across multiple advertising channels, affiliate marketing and CRO.

Special thanks to Mike McElhaney and Chase Moheni for collaboration on this post.

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1. Facebook reported a 30% year-over-year increase in the average price per ad in their Q1 2021 earnings call source

2. We estimate a similar but not as high increase from Google based on their Q1 2021 earnings call.

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