Nothing connects consumers to brands more directly than digital advertising. Whether you’re a local nonprofit or a Fortune 500 company, digital ad strategies are one of the best ways to promote your brand.

But if one thing is certain, it’s that change is inevitable in digital advertising. Facebook has already introduced several major changes to their advertising platform in the first few months of 2022. And these changes are already impacting brands’ bottom lines.

Skyrocketing ad costs, audience targeting restrictions, and more difficult metric measurements have hit brands with heavy investment in digital advertising. According to one CNBC report, the cost to reach 1000 people on Facebook went from $6 to $18 in about two years.

Needless to say, there’s a lot of unknown about the future of Facebook advertising strategy. For many brands, opting out of social advertising isn’t an option. In fact, one study found that more than 50% of companies planned to increase their Facebook ad budgets in 2022.

To be successful, brands must be agile — and that agility involves rapidly adapting ad strategies and investing in multichannel marketing. Here’s what you need to know now.

What’s changed with Facebook advertising

Along with rising costs, Facebook is implementing changes to audience targeting that may make ads less effective. These changes are in response to feedback from civil rights experts and policymakers who say both Facebook’s algorithms and advertisers can perpetuate discrimination through abuse of Facebook’s targeting options.

Facebook intends that these changes meet users’ evolving expectations of how advertisers reach them and use their data, but it comes at a cost to advertisers.

Detailed Targeting options

Detailed Targeting is an option within the Audience section of Facebook’s ad platform. It allows marketers to define the group of people that will see a given ad, based on factors like demographics, behaviors, and interests.

In January, Facebook began phasing out certain targeting options that could be considered sensitive. This includes topics like:

  • Ethnicity
  • Race
  • Sexual orientation
  • Religion
  • Health causes
  • Political affiliation or beliefs
  • Social issues or causes

While targeted ads that use parameters like these can fuel positive societal change, they can also contribute to discrimination in advertising. For example, an ad for housing may be shown to proportionally fewer people in minority groups or in low-income communities. If that happens, the ad may go against laws like the Fair Housing Act.

Facebook asserts that by removing these sensitive targeting options, ads on their platform will be displayed to broader audiences and reduce discrimination in advertising.

Consolidated Ad Topics

In early April, Facebook announced the consolidation of Ad Topics and Interest Categories controls. This impacts the way marketers define their target audiences, but it also gives users more control over the types of ads they see.

People can choose to see fewer ads about certain types of content, including parenting, pets, politics, alcohol, gambling, and weight loss. If a user opts out of an ad category, they won’t be served any ads that fall into that category.

Is this the end of targeted advertising?

Facebook’s changes impact organizations of all kinds. But for those who relied on Facebook for affordable, effective ads promoting brand awareness, these changes are particularly problematic.

The changes might have left you with smaller audiences than you wanted. Add to that the rising cost of maintaining ads and decreased performance, and it’s time to make some changes. If you used Detailed Targeting options that were removed this year, your campaigns were probably turned off until you adjusted target audience parameters.

While this isn’t the end of targeted advertising, it is a time that demands strategic decision making.

Making your Facebook advertising strategy work for you

Advertisers still have targeting options on Facebook. Broad Targeting includes parameters like age and location, making it a good option for brand awareness and reach campaigns.

Detailed Targeting Expansion allows Facebook to show your ad to people outside your defined audience, if the algorithm determines it will boost ad performance.

Engagement Custom Audiences lets you create narrower target audiences with existing engagement on your page. You can use this feature to create audiences based on actions people take on your page, and audiences based on people who:

  • Watched videos on your page
  • Engaged with your events
  • Clicked in your Facebook Shops

… all without the need for interest-based parameters.

Adjusting your digital advertising strategy

Digital advertising is always evolving, but there are ways to protect your strategy despite the changes. Here are a few ways to enhance your digital marketing strategy — and make your digital presence less reliant on ad platforms.

1. Define your ideal customer

Make your advertising dollars work harder by defining accurate target audiences before launching campaigns. Start by identifying your brand’s target audience (personas), and use those personas to guide you in creating audiences on Facebook and in other marketing efforts.

2. Collect quality data outside social media

You control the data you collect and own. Instead of only relying on Facebook targeting, building SEO in other channels can help increase your own data collection efforts. Build your own lists of prospective and existing customers via your website, email lists, and other channels, import those lists to Facebook Ads Manager, and use them to target your ads.

3. Create content, not just ads

Don’t overlook other opportunities on digital platforms. Create social posts, videos, infographics, and other resources that draw users to your page. Use content creation to build organic Facebook page engagement, and increase the amount of data you have to use in Engagement Custom Audiences.

4. Closely monitor ad campaigns

When you run ad campaigns, keep a close eye on them. Monitoring their performance is even more important after major changes are implemented, because it’s the only way to ensure advertising on Facebook still aligns with your business strategy and your budget.

Not sure where to go from here? Worried about what the future holds? Our digital marketing team at Iconic can help. We have the expertise you need to define your ideal customer and develop a digital strategy to reach them. Contact us to get started today.