An Entirely New Facebook Ads Experience

This comic I am about to share below is funny but it also has pretty good timing…

This Non-Sequitur comic strip ran this past weekend.

Okay, I know that is probably tough to see for many of you. The comic depicts souls reaching the entrance to Heaven. St. Peter suddenly proclaims Good News! The line should start moving a lot faster now that I’ve learned how to search your browser histories.

Of course we all know what is implied here. But to be honest, I would argue you don’t even need to look at their browser history. Instead, just take a glance at the ads they are being served on social media. That should tell you enough about what their online activity. Well, at least until now.

I said the comic had good timing because this week the long awaited/dreaded IOS 14.5 update started to roll out. Besides new emojis and a host of other things, the major draw with this significant update is that Apple users can now opt out from being tracked. Called App Tracking Transparency, people with iPhones will now have the option upfront to tell their favorite apps whether they can track their online activity or not.

Won’t be a difficult decision for many.

IOS 14.5 will change paid social media.

Although some might like being bombarded with Disney World ads on social media after doing a quick Google search for Orlando hotels, many others find it creepy and annoying. With the new IOS 14.5 update, apps such as Facebook must now ask users via pop-up prompt if it can continue to track their online journeys. Again, we all know where this is headed.

So while this development is welcome news for many, Facebook and other apps aren’t the only losers here. Those of us in the digital marketing business who have taken advantage of social media advertising over the years are losing some of the main instruments in our tool box. Audience sizes for paid social campaigns will undoubtedly dwindle as people opt out. The specificity with which we were once able to serve ads will no longer be as refined. The whole concept of retargeting is going to take a huge hit.

Just as damaging, the update will make ad analytics reporting much more of a guessing game than ever before. Because of tracking restrictions, Facebook had to reconfigure its entire conversion reporting system which will result in the loss of so much critical information.

The only consolation is that we weren’t blindsided by this update. I have known about the changes since late last year. Over the past couple months it has been a mad dash to help WSU campuses and departments prepare for IOS 14.5 while also working with our various agencies to pull their custom events underneath our web domain.

We still don’t know to what extent IOS 14.5 will impact paid social advertising but it certainly won’t be doing us any favors. However, I still choose to be optimistic. It is now time for the social media giants to make a move—one that will hopefully return the upper hand to advertisers while at the same time respecting the privacy of users…if that is even possible. Don’t Blink.

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