Advertising Without Tracking

The horizon is changing for digital marketing and if you’re not careful, you won’t see the forest for the trees.

Apple’s update is a disrupter to the industry for sure, but what’s happening isn’t really changing much, especially if you were looking close. While Facebook is dealing with a lot of perception issues, the results from Facebook ad campaigns at NEXT LEVEL are unlikely to change at all. To explain this, I’d like to prove it with a client of ours. 

How We Got Here

Historically, our Facebook campaigns with a conversion focus have taken a long time to show value. Our clients typically would complain that leads from Facebook were unqualified and so, we did our best to improve the campaigns, changed audiences, budgets, creative, and copy until eventually we could create some sort of profitable campaign. However, the pivots and extra effort were impossible to ignore. 

2017 Example Contractor Revenue Breakdown

Our clients, and especially our example contractor company, typically do not have time to waste. Naturally and organically, our example fence company pivoted most of its efforts towards Google. 

After a few years our example contractor had begun to feel pretty negative about any advertising with social media. Our conversions and his revenue were all coming from Google but there was a component we’d seen develop that our client didn’t understand. To explain that we’ll have to back in time again.

In 2018 our we had the opportunity to run a great video ad. Our team made an ad that made the client look cool and tough. Internally, we described it as the “Ford Tough” video. This client ran and grabbed us a significant amount of brand awareness. Our client’s search results were through the roof. That video ran for over 9 months and reached 250,000 people and was viewed 1,000,000 times. The video and our client had a great 2018 and, while the video did well, the client and our reporting showed us that our conversions were still coming from Google by a giant margin. 

In 2019 our example contractor decided against video marketing that year and wanted to double down on it’s most profitable advertising method, Google Ads. In 2019, our client also experienced the first year of stagnant growth in the company’s history. Revenue was still coming in but metrics like “new users on the website” suffered extreme loss. The rub? The same rub as always, No funnel and no strategy. No story worth listening to begins with the end unless it’s Quentin Tarantino or something and even then I struggle to keep up. Good advertising, storytelling, and goal setting begins with the first step and in this case the first step is awareness. 

In 2020 we made a new video. We added some personality and we returned a portion of the budget to social media and awareness advertising. Through a pandemic it was the best year of our example company. Revenue was higher than ever and as mentioned before, Google proved to be our platform with the highest ROI. In fact, the ROI of our SEO/Google Ads strategies actually improved while we ran a video awareness campaign. 

During the height of the pandemic awareness campaigns were cheap. There were moments where people were buying things and moments where people weren’t but there wasn’t a single moment that people weren’t consuming content by record breaking amounts. The awareness strategy was working already but the pandemic only made things easier. Natural market forces of weather, stimulus payments, and material availability were more manageable because our new audience had trust in our brand and we were able to communicate paint points with them in our awareness advertising. In short, our awareness campaigns were very valuable. 

Post Apple's iOS Update Predictions

This trend will not only continue but it will accelerate. Now that early numbers are showing American users accepting tracking tools at a rate of 6%. Meaning 94% of American Facebook users are not interested in us (advertisers) following them around the internet and it’s really hard to blame them. This tactic might have seemed like an easy fix but as I have just shown, it was never that effective in driving our clients actual revenue. Now the Facebook generated ad results are branded with this disclaimer, “These results may not include conversions from people who have opted out of tracking on iOS 14. In some cases, statistical modeling may be used to account for some conversions.” which basically means, “we don’t’ know what’s happening but you’re welcome to guess.” Well, guess what Facebook, that was already true.

Most of the data you receive from Facebook needs to be combed through now but that was already true. It will be more difficult to understand the behavior of users after they leave the Facebook eco system and that’s ok. It’s probably even good. Now, the best strategies take a bit of trust and a holistic approach.  


Our Holistic Summer Strategy

If you’ve got a friend in the billboard industry, you’ve heard them talk about impressions (An impression is when a user sees an advertisement.). Your billboard friend would agree that impressions matter and we think they’ve never mattered more. Now, utilizing digital marketing we can count those impressions and use them to build a relationship with your audience. We use them to communicate the reasons that your service is better than your competition. We can even use them to set expectations and start your sales process before you’ve even entered the conversation. When we use our impressions effectively we will know because our search traffic will increase. 

You're going to need a funnel

Awareness Advertising to new users. We usually recommend using the native video creation tools because there are hundreds of placements across the platforms and those tools make design much easier.   

Engagement Advertising to users interested in you or your competitors. Youtube, Facebook, and Pinterest are great for this. and will help make your brand more accessible and allow you to set expectations and address pain points while an interested customer is doing their research. 

Search Advertising and SEO to pick up customers that are finally ready to buy. Even in scenarios when they are sure they are going to use your services, our data suggests they still go to the search bar to find you. This means that doing all that hard awareness work will be meaningless if some competitor comes in and undercuts your price because you weren’t represented when they searched. Also, competitors doing the hard awareness work will also have their customers searching, and it’s likely we can present those customers with a better offer. 

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