Are Facebook Ads Dead?

There have been a lot of changes to Facebook ads and how Meta accesses user data that have affected how the ads perform. These changes have caused many business owners, and marketers, to ask the question “Are Facebook Ads Dead?”. The question really is if the ads can still provide the same effectiveness they did in the past and if they continue to offer a strong enough return on investment to warrant inclusion in your marketing strategy.

Are Facebook Ads Dead

Let’s break the details down…

What made Facebook ads so effective in the past?

Well reason number one is the obvious – audience size. With almost 2.9 billion monthly users, Facebook is the most used social media platform in the world. And when you look at the data for Canada, it’s even more staggering. In September 2022, over 56% of social media visits in Canada were to Facebook, with Twitter coming in second at around 14%. Those types of numbers just don’t lie!

And yes, we’re talking here about what made Facebook ads so successful in the past, prior to iOS updates that changed the way data is collected, but those numbers were even higher in the past so they are an important part of the equation.

So Facebook has a huge captive audience. They also have the highest amount of data included in a profile set up. When you register for Instagram, Twitter or TikTok, there are very few pieces of personal information to fill out, but Facebook asks for endless amounts of personal details, most of which were done on accounts in the past, long before digital privacy was a big concern. 

Facebook also used pixels and cookies to track you across all other apps, websites and other digital activity. Not only did they know the information a user input themselves, they also knew what sites you were visiting so they could collect data that told a story – are you shopping for a new car, about to get married, renovating your home? They also knew if you were making dinner plans, shopping online and much more. 

In the past, all you had to do was tell Facebook the exact type of customers you were looking for and they could get very precise in finding them. You could also use existing customer lists to match up your current customers with a certain “profile” and Facebook would serve your ads to more people with similar profiles. 

All of this extreme targeting made it very easy for Facebook to find customers who would interact with your ads and convert into leads and/or sales. This meant high quality conversions for a low advertising cost. The ROI was off the charts in most cases!

Facebook also offers the widest variety of ad types so you can choose the perfect medium and location for your ads to appear. Their algorithm is also sophisticated enough to learn and adapt to what is working on any given campaign, you can A/B test within the platform and the level of data gathered is next level above any other platform. 

What changes have impacted this?

In the past few years, Apple and Google have gotten much stricter about how their users’ personal information is shared. Essentially, they don’t share it without permission anymore. Each user has to opt in to be tracked as you start using a new app and within your browser. If you opt in, Facebook can collect your data. If you do not, you are not tracked throughout the digital environments you have not opted in for. 

This was expected to make a major impact on the results earned by Facebook ads, but it has not had the catastrophic impact many predicted. There are many reasons for this including:

  • Some consumers like being tracked so the ads they see are helpful and targeted. They opt in intentionally. 

  • In some cases, consumers do not understand the question being asked and will opt in without realizing the choice being made. In these cases, they do not specifically care one way or the other if their digital activity is tracked and used to improve their social media and buying experiences. 

  • While your current activity may not be tracked with as much precision or current data, Facebook still has a plethora of information on each user within their own platform. This information can be used to predict the needs of consumers. While this may be less immediate and more broad than in the past, it’s still highly effective when you consider how predictable consumer behaviour can be. 

  • Finally, every platform was affected by this change, not just Facebook. So while results may not be as high as in the past, the drop happened across the board.

Facebook themselves also made changes to the type of targeting it offered and has removed the ability to track data related to sexual orientation, religious or political beliefs, or information related to health causes. 

How are Facebook ads performing now?

It’s no surprise that many campaigns are not proving to be as effective as they were in the past. With targeting changes, there are certain campaigns that you simply cannot run anymore and the easiest way to target certain audiences has been removed. That, and user data across other platforms, apps and browsers has taken a bit of a dive. 

But all of this considered, Facebook still trends very high on the level of results it can offer to businesses using their ad platform. You’ll need to be willing to broaden your target audience and trust the Facebook algorithm to find the best audience for you though. This can definitely cost more than it has in the past, but there are still few options that are more cost effective than Facebook ads for timely results and well qualified conversions. 

Facebook is also offering a ton of advice and changes to the algorithm and platform to keep users engaged and help businesses transition from relying on third party data in their advertising campaigns.

Are Facebook ads still worth including in your marketing strategy?

In early 2022, almost 60% of marketers and small business owners still intended to include Facebook ads in their marketing strategy. Given that it’s still the most used platform by the audiences you need to connect with, we recommend that you consider doing the same. Yes, cost per click has increased and continues to increase in many cases, the ROI case is still there. People are still logging on to Facebook in commanding numbers and ads are still making their way to the right people to get you the attention and conversions you require. You’ll just want to be smart about how you use Facebook, consider their tips to optimize results and try a few of your own to get the best results possible.

Here are some ways you can get the most out of your Facebook ads in 2022:

  • Be sure to A/B test your ads to fully understand what works best for your audience. Be intentional about the two options you use so you can clearly isolate which components worked best.

  • Target the right age groups. One third of Facebook users are over 45, but the largest single demographic is 25-34 year olds, which make up almost 27% of overall users. 

  • Always consider mobile first in every area of your strategy including how you create your content and optimize your ads and website. Over 98% of Facebook’s users are logging in on their mobile devices!

  • Use video at least 80% of the time in your ad content. And be sure to offer quality content that is valuable to your audience. This ensures they are more likely to interact with it and helps the algorithm find the right consumers for your content. 

  • Gather first party data (lead forms) so you have access to your own data without having to rely on other platforms to understand and find your customers. 

  • Don’t rely on Facebook as your primary (or only) source of lead traffic. We absolutely still recommend them as a part of your overall strategy, but be sure to couple them with other tactics. Build an email list and use it. Connect with your audience in more places than just on social media (newsletters, blog platforms, membership). 

It’s no secret that Facebook ad options have changed in the past few years and in many cases the ROI on them has reduced because of it. But Facebook is still the dominant social media platform and still delivers the best rate of return on investment for most businesses. 

Our Recommendation: Continue to include Facebook ads in your strategy, while recognizing that costs have risen and results take longer to make an impact. And that you’ll need to put more focus on your campaigns to ensure they are successful. 

This means being smart with your budget and patient with your campaigns. It also means making the effort to optimize for the new way campaigns are run and tracking them closely to ensure you’re getting the most for your budget. It also means diversifying your marketing options and collecting your own data to keep in touch with customers and potential leads. 

Like everything in life, when something is too easy, it rarely stays that way. Many businesses enjoyed the fruits of low investment and effort, high results Facebook ads for several years. Facebook ads can still be a top way to attract new customers, but it will require more time, effort, patience, knowledge and budget than it did in the past. 

If you need advice, support or someone to take Facebook advertising off your hands, our Facebook ad experts can help. Contact us today!

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