[SMK] Social Media Knowledge


Facebook Releases Major Ad Targeting Update As Privacy Regulations Bite

Post iOS 14, Facebook doubles down on automated targeting features

Five months after the launch of Apple's iOS 14.5 update and the effects of Apple's privacy clampdown is beginning to be felt as the social media data hose chokes off.

Launched in April, Apple's recent iOS update now forces social apps (amongst others) to get express consent from users before tracking them across other apps.

Which, unsurprisingly, people seem not too keen to permit…

Flurry Analytics, May 2021, weeks after the launch of iOS 14.5

"With the rollout of iOS 14.5, app developers face a choice: display the App Tracking Transparency (ATT) prompt or don't track users at all.

At Flurry we are tracking the opt-in rate: both overall and across only apps that have displayed the prompt. The high level findings:

  • The Opt-In rate across all apps has risen from 11% to 15% since the rollout of iOS 14.5.

  • The Opt-In rate across apps that have displayed the prompt has hovered around one-quarter of users."

The great privacy squeeze won't be ending any time soon, with iOS 15 also on the horizon and Google looking set to go down a similar route.

For example, Google announced in May that Google Play is introducing a new "safety" section, rolling out next year, which will require app developers to share what sort of data their apps collect, how it's stored and how it's used.

As brands and advertisers have less data to target an audience with, online marketing reach and accuracy will suffer, which is why many are moving towards automated systems.

Google Ads has already announced updates of its own, and now it's Facebook's turn. Its latest API included the following.

Facebook for Developers

"To help advertisers find additional opportunities that weren't originally available to them, when advertisers leverage Detailed Targeting and optimize for conversions, value or app events using the conversions objective they will be automatically included into Targeting Expansion."

Automated ad targeting

Targeted Expansion will allow Facebook's ad algorithm to show your ads to a broader audience than fit your targeting selections. It will use automation and machine learning to show your ads to users outside your initial scope based on its estimation of what will perform well.

Granted, there are specific areas Targeted Expansion won't infringe on:

  • Location
  • Age
  • Gender

If you want to target 18-25-year-old males from Melbourne, your ads will only be shown to that demographic. Outside of other qualifiers or interests, Facebook could automatically push your adverts to those groups, even if you hadn't chosen them originally.

Innovating to get around new privacy laws

That could be a good thing. As privacy laws tighten and marketers have less data to play with, they're going to need every last bit of help from automation. Targeted Expansion could eke out extra value or find engagement from an area a marketer could not.

However, there are times when it won't, and that will annoy advertisers. There is a risk that smaller businesses that target a niche audience could see engagement blown wide open if Facebook goes rogue and shows ads to a group of people who would never engage with them, despite what the robots think.

Although, despite the potential downside, there are respected voices within social media ad land taking more of a glass-half-full attitude.

Savannah Sanchez, The Social Savannah

"It's is great news for the industry as media buyers will spend less time pointlessly split testing audiences/lookalikes against each other and focus on what actually moves the needle: CREATIVE TESTING!

Time to consolidate your account to 1 prospecting ad set."

How targeting expansion works

As data black holes grow, the role for Targeting Expansion grows as it can help show your ad to the type of people Facebook thinks will give you more or cheaper results.

Facebook Business Help Centre

"When advertisers select this feature, we dynamically make updates to reflect where we're seeing better performance. If we see better performance outside the advertiser's defined audience, we may expand the audience further to include similar opportunities."

Here's how you use it:

  1. From Ads Manager, create or open an ad set.
  2. Go to Audience.
  3. In Detailed targeting, hit edit or go to the detailed targeting expansion section.
  4. Tick or untick the detailed targeting expansion box.

How lookalike expansion works

Lookalike expansion is similar to targeting explosion and can help lead to better results as Facebook can broaden your campaign automatically to reflect where the system is finding better performance.

Facebook Business Help Centre

"Lookalike expansion allows our system to reach a broader set of people than those you defined in your Lookalike Audience.

When you select the expansion option, we dynamically update your audience to reflect where we're seeing better performance. For example, if we're seeing better performance outside your defined lookalike size, we may expand the audience further to include similar opportunities."

Lookalike expansion is available for conversion and app install campaigns, and is unavailable for lookalikes based only on a Custom Audience.

Photo by Rock'n Roll Monkey on Unsplash

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