As Expert Empires and The Elite Closing Academy’s head media buyer, The last 3 months have probably been the hardest of my media buying career.
But you either win or you learn so I’m not too bitter about the experience!
I know everyone I speak to who is running ads has had a similar experience and so I want to talk a little bit about what is going on for those unaware of the details and reasons behind their results falling off a cliff.
And then I’m going to go into some actionable strategies that have been working for me in the post IOS 14 world and that will help you going forwards.
This isn’t a ‘flex’ or humble brag but so that you know that I know what I’m talking about when it comes to FB ads, I have run Youtube and FB ads successfully for about 3 years now, first in my own agency and then for 3 different companies in a few different niches.
I built the sales page and ran the ads for a free plus shipping offer that was doing 200 books a week before IOS 14 came in.
I’ve had moments when I have a midas touch with campaigns and other times where everything I touch turns to shit so you can trust I’ve been in the trenches, and that I’m not going to sell you a dream.
I actually don’t have anything to sell you at all, I just want to help fellow media buyers and business owners navigate through the current shitshow that is FB ads.
Let’s start with the state of play and what has been affecting ad performance since IOS 14 came into effect.
Less Targetable Users Means Smaller Audiences
To speak in layman’s terms, IOS 14 is an update to apple’s iPhone software that means users can opt-out of cookie tracking.
Cookies are what browsers like safari and chrome use to recognise users who come back to a website, so blocking these means FB is unsure who just landed on your course thank you page and so won’t trigger events accurately which means your reporting figures will be off in your ads manager.
This also has another effect which is that those who have opted out won’t appear in Facebook targeting both for retargeting (the worst affected) and for detailed targeting based on interests and demographics.
I will go into more detail later about what you can do to combat this and what you should do in response.
The next section deals with the biggest impact that IOS 14 has had.
I’m trying to get better at avoiding marketing jargon but it’s difficult when you are so engrossed in the world of CPM’s, CPA’s and CRO.
So let me try to de-code CPM’s.
CPM means the cost per 1000 impressions.
This acronym is used across Facebook and Youtube but I’m referring to it in the context of FB ads this time.
To go a level deeper, an impression is when your ad is shown to someone (when it appears on their news feed for example).
So you can basically say that CPM is a good metric to measure the cost of advertising rising.
For some people I’ve spoken to, the cost to show 1000 people their ad has doubled.
The reason for this occurrence is that there are less people for Facebook to target so the competition for impressions is increased.
Depending on the niche you operate in you will see a different increase.
As I mentioned before I will go into detail about what this means and how you can get great results, even with higher CPM’s, later in this blog.
Next is pixel/tracking problems.
Less pixel triggering = less optimisation
This one is going to take a bit more explaining.
You should get by now that IOS 14 blocking cookies means that Facebook has a hard time tracking certain customers.
This is especially problematic if like me you are using the conversion campaign objective to track leads and purchases.
That said, most objectives are affected to some extent.
To give you a brief overview, the conversion objective involves putting a small bit of code in the header of your thank page, normally the page they land on after they opt-in for your lead magnet (or similar).
This code sends a message back to Facebook Ads manager that the person has been converted into a lead (or any other event has occurred such as add to cart).
The problem lies in the fact that since Apple clamped down on cookies FB isn’t getting told every time someone converts.
Which leads to FB guessing and either over reporting in some cases but most often under reporting leads and sales on the ads manager dashboard.
With this lack of data about which campaigns and adsets are working, it can be hard to make the crucial decisions to turn off ads that aren’t working or scale up the ones that are.
It’s not all doom and gloom, I’ll cover a free way to solve this that requires some technical knowledge and a paid version that I’m currently using.
This concludes the ‘what went wrong’ portion of the blog and now we are going to get into why you are really reading this and that is to find out how you can get better results with your FB ads in the post IOS 14 world.
Tracking software & Conversion API
I’m going to try to make this as simple as possible and skip the developer talk.
If you have no interest in learning about how the pixel and FB ads work together, skip ahead to the solutions I offer, I don’t want to waste your time or patronise you.
The first thing you need to understand is the pixel.
Before you run any FB ads you need to install this code in the head code on all of your pages.
(you can find it under the ‘events manager’ section on ads manager)
The header of the page stores code that doesn’t display on the page, the body code is the styling and content of the page.
If you don’t have the pixel installed on all pages of your website and all pages you run FB ads to then I suggest you take a break and do that now.
The pixel allows Facebook to track actions that customers take with your business, such as viewing your website or opting-in to one of your forms.
The most basic thing to understand is that the FB pixel traditionally uses browser cookie events (chrome, safari, IE) to track the results of your ads, so to fix the problem you need to send events from a different source.
There are two ways to do this:
The first is through FB’s conversion API (Application Programming Interface) which can link with some CRM software (customer relationship management) or using a software called zapier you can pretty much link anything up.
The second is through a third party software, the main ones are Hyros and Wicked Reports.
I have no business relationship or affiliate deal with Hyros but I think it’s worth mentioning that it’s the one I use personally and it’s been working out.
Both of these methods involve sending events back to Facebook straight from your CRM (instead of the browser) when they fill out a form or purchase one of your products.
This means that IOS 14 doesn’t affect the data being sent back to Ads manager and you can have much more accurate reporting.
I’m not here to sell tracking to you but without it, you are basically running ads blind, hoping they will work.
I recommend that if you don’t have the budget for Hyros which starts at $349 a month then you try the conversion API route which you will be able to find info on here – https://www.facebook.com/business/help/2041148702652965?id=818859032317965
It does require some technical knowledge to set-up but I’m confident that most people will be able to get it working.
In business, data should be the primary driver of all decisions and the slow phasing out of cookies will only serve to increase the importance and cost of data in an already data driven advertising landscape.
Better ad creative
This one is going to sound patronising but when competition and CPM’s are up the no.1 thing you need to do is make better ads.
As you are paying more to show your ads to people it serves to say that you need to have a higher conversion rate on your ads to make it worthwhile.
Video creative is becoming more and more prominent and I recommend you use it too but do bear in mind that you should always caption your video as 80% of people will watch your video with the sound off.
I will attach below a formula that has worked for me when writing ads, as with any formula it isn’t the ONLY way to write ads but I understand when you’re starting out imitation is the best way to get started.
When you write you ad you need to remember the way people will interact with it is as follows:
- They will see you ‘pattern interrupt’ image (hopefully they will stop scrolling)
- They will then read the headline of your ad (it should be benefit driven)
- Then if you caught their attention they will read the primary text
Example that follows the formula:
Everything you’ve been told about running webinars is a lie.
If you’re struggling to get more than 20 people show up.
If you’ve got no idea how to make a pitch on your webinar.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
I’ve put together a plethora of templates to give you the exact structure and framework I use.
You’ll get the exact email template I use to construct my promo email (you just need to fill in the blanks).
You’ll also get examples of ad copy and ad images to copy for your own campaign so you never need to worry about writer’s block again!
Click here to get the ultimate webinar template
[Pattern Interrupt Image]
Headline: Learn how to get 200+ attendees to your next webinar
Hopefully that gives you an idea of the framework in action.
We are actually releasing the webinar campaign templates we use here at EE very soon so watch out for those.
A last note is that your image or video should be a ‘pattern interrupt’ and by that I mean something out of the ordinary that stops them scrolling down their news feed.
There is more than one way to do this, it could be bright colours, a visual trick at the start of your video or any number of other things.
Your ultimate goal with the ad is to get someone to click to your landing page or sales page so remember that you don’t need to sell too hard on the ad copy, you just need to sell the click.
LAL’s and broader audiences
This one is all about combating the reduced number of targetable people on Facebook.
For those familiar with Lookalike audiences (LAL’s) you’ll know that you can start at 1% and move the slider all the way up to 10%.
Historically I have only ever used 1% (or 2% on occasion) as this targets people most alike to the people in the original audience that this one is a lookalike of.
Because of the changes after IOS 14 came into effect, what has been working great for me and other media buyers I have spoken to is broadening the LAL’s into 3%-5%.
As with everything I suggest you should try it for yourself and contrary to what other gurus will tell you, replicating someone else’s exact results on FB is nearly impossible.
So what should you make a lookalike audience of?
Intent is the best thing to think of, obviously you higher paying customers have the most intent, then low-ticket customers, then leads and so on.
Buyers or purchasers is a great place to start, then I would look at your email database which you can upload to FB as a customer list in audiences and then make a lookalike audience from it.
Then once those are working for you I would branch out into lookalikes of page engagement across your FB business page and instagram page (if you have one).
Next to look at it is what I refer to as ‘stacking’ audiences, and more specifically stacking interests.
Where I would normally just target someone like Tony Robbins, I might add a bunch of gurus to the list to broaden the audience and make it in the millions rather than a few hundred thousand.
Rather than splitting out the audience into different adsets as I would in the past I just combine them all into one ‘super’ audience.
This will serve to reduce your CPM’s as Facebook has more people to go after.
It will also give Facebook more space to optimise, if there is one thing I’ve learned in my career as a media buyer it’s that Facebook is far smarter than I’ll ever be.
Try those two methods and let me know how you get on!
Even as I write this I’m aware that this may not be that helpful when it comes to getting better results with Facebook ads.
But the success of your business depends on more than just Facebook ads.Even in just the last year I have had 2-3 ad account bans (all were reversed).
I have had campaigns suddenly stop working and a bunch of other minor problems.
I’ve learnt, and the businesses I work for have learnt not to rely on Facebook ads exclusively for their paid customer acquisition.
When it comes to diversifying there are 2 major areas I would explore first.
The first is obvious but looking at other ad platforms like YouTube or Linkedin and maybe even tik tok is a great first step, maybe I will write about my learning with Youtube ads in a future blog.
That said, it’s pretty easy to get started on YouTube and there are loads of videos on YouTube that will walk you through the whole process of setting up campaigns.
If you want to get started with YouTube ads a brief structure/action plan would be:
I’ve obviously been reductive but follow that order and fill in the blanks with some online training and you’ll be well on your way.
The second way to diversify your facebook ads is to become world-class at email marketing.
This may sound silly and unrelated to paid lead gen but email serves 2 very important functions.
- To boost and ensure a return on your advertising spend
- To nurture and convert more of the leads already on your database
So many of the entrepreneurs I speak to don’t do email well.
If I asked them their open rate and click-through rate for the last week they would probably give me a blank expression.
The reality is, there is money in your current audience and or database.
Email is one of the best ways I know to extract it.
2 practices to start or optimise are as follows:
- Create a nurture sequence for new leads onto your database (usually 5-7 emails)
- Send weekly value emails (the best way to show your audience you can help them, is to actually help them)
I hope you’ve found this blog valuable, I’m always looking for feedback on what to write next so if there is any ideas (or help you need) get in touch.