Native features will dominate Facebook and Instagram marketing in 2021

Apple's iOS14 Privacy Policy changes are set to impact all advertisers. Agora Agency's head of social media Erin Stafford explores.

With impending restriction on data sharing between Facebook and Instagram and websites or app destinations, marketers will need to adapt. For many this will mean adopting alternative advertising features which effectively by-pass data sharing restrictions. As a result, native Facebook and Instagram ad formats will dominate the landscape in 2021.

Through a series of Facebook webinars in January, marketers globally learned how their campaigns would need to swiftly adapt to Ads Manager changes forced by Apple’s iOS14 Privacy Policy. In short, these changes will see data transfer between website/app events and Facebook become limited and delayed. For Facebook and Instagram advertisers this translates to less targeting options, less accurate reporting data and less informed optimisations. I anticipate marketers will gravitate towards these key native options to adapt to the new iOS14 landscape.


Facebook and Instagram shopping

E-commerce brands will suffer significantly from data limitations. Opt-outs of the prompt will see advertisers lose much of their ability to track website events completed by users. Less reported conversions will result in custom audiences derived from web event data decreasing in size, data reliant targeting options diluted and optimisation data becoming skewed. In addition to this, advertisers will be limited to eight website events for use in campaign optimisation. To overcome some of these limitations, brands can populate product catalogs and customise a “Shop” interface native to Facebook and Instagram. This “Shop” will allow users to browse products without leaving the platform, viewing a Home Page, Category Pages and Products just as they would on a website. For advertisers in the US, this will allow reporting on Purchase, Add to Cart and ROAS metics which would otherwise be restricted. While in-app purchases are yet to be introduced in Australia, Facebook is quickly rolling out new features on Business Manager to alleviate the impact to advertisers, meaning this feature could be arriving sooner than you think.

Lead generation forms

For companies focussing on lead generation, Facebook’s native lead generation forms will increase in popularity. the iOS14 changes mean that re-marketing will become more difficult. If users can’t be tracked by taking a conversion event on the site, they may be included in a re-marketing audience despite the fact they have already converted. This will reduce the size and accuracy of retargeting audiences relying on web events. Again, negating the need for a website destination will allow marketers to accurately calculate and optimise based on On-Facebook-lead data, as well as accurately retarget users who opened but did not submit a Lead Form, much like website visitors who did not convert. Advertisers using lead generation forms will be able to view metrics including cost per lead and lead volume without relying on restricted and estimated data points. These forms are great for collecting contact information, with the opportunity to add non-required custom questions as well. Simple events like eBook downloads, event registrations and initial contacts which don’t require a long path to conversion are optimal opportunities for native lead generation forms.

Messenger ads

Brands may choose to adopt the Chat-Bot model to convert users. Facebook and Instagram’s native Messenger Ad format allows advertisers to qualify leads using a series of questions and engage directly in an already established communication channel. This is a great opportunity for service-based companies like tradespeople, where images can easily and quickly be shared. Again, as this ad format is native to the platform, there is no limitation or delay on conversion data transferred back to Ads Manager. This will allow advertisers to accurately optimise and report on metrics like cost per Lead, as well as create lookalike audience of users who have converted via Messenger ads.

Video ads

Video ads are not a new format, but they can be used creatively to narrow-down broad interest audiences without paying to send them to your website and subsequently limit tracking ability. By creating a low-cost Reach or Brand Awareness campaign with Video Creative, advertisers can retarget audiences who watch a certain percentage of the video. This view action can be used to indicate the level of interest and allow advertisers to sequence their ads accurately with custom audiences to replicate a YouTube-like funnel.

Due to greater targeting, optimisation and reporting abilities, advertisers will gravitate towards these native features to overcome the limitations of iOS14 changes.  Whether it be through greater use of video sequencing or the adaptation of Instagram Shop, marketers will adapt using under utilised features of these platforms. Outside of Facebook and Instagram, advertisers should consider implementing alternative Attribution Modelling through Google Analytics, and aim to own more data using CRM platforms like HubSpot.

While some advertisers will make the effort to adapt to changes, others will likely redirect marketing spend to other channels. This could see your competition exit, leaving market share and valuable News Feed real-estate up for the taking. Brands that rely almost entirely on platform-to-website Facebook and Instagram campaigns to drive conversions will need to reconsider this decision and diversify their digital channels.

Despite the volatility iOS14 will cause for digital marketing, these changes will force marketers to get creative and adopt alternative ad formats to drive transparent results. This will see native Facebook and Instagram ad formats dominate the marketing landscape in 2021.

Erin Stafford is the head of social media at Agora Agency. 


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