Preparing for a Facebook Performance Drop Off

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Alison Zeringue, Director of Account Management at Search Influence, joined the Enrollment Growth University podcast to discuss the broader trends we’ve been seeing from both tech companies and advertising platforms towards both user and data privacy, and how higher ed marketing teams need to respond to Apple’s iOS 14.5 update.

Trends Toward User and Data Privacy

Since the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) emerged in the European Union in 2016, there’s been a push towards a cookieless future. Globally, internet users want to have more control over their privacy and their data. GDPR and similar measures give people more of a say in whether or not an application can use cookies to track their behavior.

In the U.S., Apple has been leading the charge toward privacy. Last week, the company released the iOS 14.5 software updates for iPhones and iPads, which reveals the new reality of the cookieless future.

How will Apple’s iOS 14.5 software update change things for data-driven marketers?

With the release of iOS 14.5, Apple will begin to require apps in the App Store to show a prompt to users. You might’ve already seen one of these.

This change is significant because Apple says that iOS 14 is now installed on 81% of iPhones that were introduced in the last four years. That’s big. And the iPhone in general holds such a huge market share in 2021 — about 50% of mobile device users — that it’s a significant change.

What does that mean for marketers?

Facebook has been forced to alter their ads platform in response to these updates. The social media giant is now going to require advertisers to make some changes to their account. From a big picture perspective, a user could expect ads they normally see to be less personalized.

For example, let’s say my goal is to have you click through to my website and then fill out an inquiry form about a master’s program. If I was optimizing for that conversion, I’m likely going to have less data and less specific reporting. As a result, marketers are anticipating their campaign success to be affected to some degree. 

I might still get the lead, but when I look at my Facebook report, I might not see that. 

3 Steps to Running Facebook Ads in 2021 and Beyond

What steps can a university take to make sure they’re ready to run social media ads in this brave new world?

Step 1: Get a grasp on the current state of Facebook advertising; in particular, if your university’s marketing efforts are decentralized. If things are more centralized, make sure you have an understanding of what you’re using your campaigns for. 

If you are not running any conversion-optimized campaigns, this update is not going to have a huge impact on you. But most effective ad campaigns are in fact optimizing for conversions to some degree and therefore need to take action. 

Step 2: Verify your domain within Facebook Business Manager to effectively certify that your business manager account has the right to run ads for that website.

Step 3: Understand what campaigns are doing now. Facebook now requires you to choose and prioritize 8 conversion event categories per verified domain. Anyone who wants to advertise for that domain has to comply with those same 8 conversion events. 

Next Steps to Staying Ahead of Online Ad Trends

First, upskill.

Take advantage of continuing education opportunities in data analytics and marketing. If you’re not educating yourself, you won’t be able to keep up. 

A lot of people power goes into staying ahead of these trends and adapting to them. The platforms are just platforms, but it takes people staying on top of things. For large universities with multiple marketing efforts, it can help to have the small central marketing team to keep up with all the different advertisers at the institution.

So if you can formalize a group to access those decision makers in the future, it will make it easier to adapt to changes that are likely to come down the pipeline. And if you can understand what each department’s goals are, it’s certainly going to make it easier. 

Also, you want to have a diverse strategy so that you’re never too dependent on any one platform for your lead generation. What if Facebook ads blew up one day? If that’s your whole pipeline, you’ll be in trouble. 

Finally, leverage experts in this space. Agencies do this every day and are compelled to stay up to date with best practices. Good agencies can help translate those practices to you and to real life into your university.

Managed well, life without cookies may not be as bad as we think. 


This post is based on a podcast interview with Alison Zeringue of Search Influence. To hear this episode and many more like it, you can subscribe to Enrollment Growth University.

If you don’t use iTunes, you can listen to every episode here.