Starting with the rollout of iOS 14.5, and continuing through more recent iOS updates, Apple’s prioritization of user privacy continues to shake up the direct-to-consumer marketing community as marketing leaders reconsider ad spend and the cost of lead acquisition. Although these changes have created a sense of uncertainty within the way campaigns are tracked and tested—it is not the end of social media marketing. We discussed these changes with leading marketers across the space who believe they may actually be an opportunity for brands to get back to the basics and create a stronger relationship with their customers.
We sat down with Laura Davis Gross, VP of Marketing at Partake; Skylar Dammers, Chief Strategy Officer of Ridge Growth Agency; Matt Schnuck, CEO of Rickhouse Media; and Tai Nicolopoulos, Vice President of Marketing at CircleUp to discuss how entrepreneurs are tackling these changes.
In a nutshell, what is the impact of Apple’s recent iOS updates?
- Audience deprecation—your audience is no longer the same size and is no longer as accurate.
- Privacy restrictions have impacted the machine learning algorithm that runs ad auctions, causing less precise data signals to run these campaigns.
- CPM prices rose across all platforms.
- Emerging brands are challenged by limited budgets combined with less accurate targeting.
To tackle these challenges, our panelists recommend rethinking strategy for four key areas: tracking, creatives, platform diversification, and product marketing.
Tracking & Data
With Facebook ad metrics that are now less reliable an easy first step towards a fix could be implementing Facebook’s conversion API to improve Facebook algorithm conversion signaling on your campaigns rather than using the Facebook pixel alone. It is also essential to develop a model to track ROAS by analyzing historical data to help you make assumptions and set a baseline that would work for your specific brand.
Impressions are more costly, and getting someone’s thumb to stop scrolling will take ad creatives that resonate deeply with the customer. Stay fresh and A/B test your content frequently as consumer behaviors and responsiveness on ads are constantly changing.
Pro tip when testing your ads on Facebook: Test your creatives then scale them within the same account instead of testing in a separate account. This will help Facebook’s algorithm leverage the learnings from that test.
Understand the max capacity of Facebook ads for your brand’s marketing strategy and allocate the rest of the budget to explore other levers and strengthen new platforms. We’ve seen ad dollars shift towards:
- Partnerships & sampling – Get your product in front of your consumers. Figure out your 360 partnership strategy across influencers, creators, retailers, and events.
- Direct mail – Great for high value and bottom of the funnel nurturing.
- Connected TV (CTV) & Over-the-Top (OTT) – May require more scale for you to unlock this channel. But a lower barrier of entry right now if you have really clear KPIs.
- Tik Tok – You can not deny the amount of attention and eyeballs going to Tik Tok! As the platform grows, the potentials are huge. Keep in mind that user-generated content (UGC) style creative is an investment that requires attention.
- YouTube – A great channel to explore if you have a good attribution model nailed down.
- Google discovery and shopping ads – Make sure you show up when people search for you! This could be done by setting up your brand’s data feed properly.
- Explore PR – The key to growth is having a strong top-of-funnel! Have a strong PR team and find ways for new customers to find you.
- E-tailers – Lean into where your customers are shopping, such as GoPuff and Instacart. Here, you can test digital coupons and ad features.
We will continue to live in a world with more privacy regulations and fewer signals. Brands that continue to grow have embraced the privacy challenges and take it as an opportunity to get back to the basics and hone into their customer personas.
Think about the various personas interested in your product, the psychological driver, and how to connect to your customers. Answering these questions can help you map out your customer journey and create a more holistic customer experience both physically and digitally.
Tactics to help you get started on persona building on a leaner budget include:
- Focus on ad comments and recent product review trends to understand how customers interact with your brand and their pain points.
- Ask your customers directly—incentives your customers on social media or email to answer surveys and segment them out by demographic.
- Foster a community that is geared around experiences and storytelling. You are engaging with your customers without the direct goal of getting them to purchase. The goal here is to develop brand affinity and community. Challenging, but the dividends are enormous.
Privacy updates are always happening, but you can always make the appropriate pivots if you understand your customers. Test often, personalize more and get back to the basics of a customer-first experience. In short, this is an exciting time for emerging brands to dive deeper into their brand identity and create a strong relationship with their consumers.