Preparing for a Facebook Performance Drop Off

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Alison Zeringue, Director of Account Management at Search Influence, joined the 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.

There's a lot of webinars today talking about the cooculous future and for what that really means is that there's this global push for Internet users to have more control over their privacy and their data about them. You're listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education, the best professional development podcast for higher education leaders looking to grow enrollment at their college or university. Whether you're looking for fresh enrollment growth techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to enrollment growth university, a proud member of the connect ETU podcast network. I'm Eric Olson with Helot Education, and we're here today with Alison Zeraan Director of account management at search influence. Alison, welcome the show. Thanks, Eric. Thank you so much for having me. Really excited to have you and for you to help talk us off the Ledge regarding these new advertising platform shifts and what it means for data driven marketers across Higher Ed. But before we dig in, can you give the listeners a little bit of background on both search influence and your roll there? Absolutely, search influences a full service digital marketing agency. WE'RE BASED OUT OF NEW ORLEANS, but we have clients nationwide. The last few years we have started to kind of really focus in on some of our key industries that we know we can have a big impact in, including higher ed we've been in the industry for fifteen years now and actually we're started as an SEO agency. So Seo kind of is our bread and butter and is usually why people find us to begin with. But we have really grown to offer the full suite of digital marketing services, including lots and lots of facebook ads, as you can imagine, and all types of digital advertising today. And my role at search influence on the director of account management, so I work both with a team of account managers and their clients on strategy. Have Been in the Organization for ten years now, so I have, you know, breadth of experience working with hundreds of clients over the years. So I work with them on strategy and on execution of those strategies. But then I also get the pleasure to serve on the executive team of search influence. I report directly to our owners and we work on agency planning and all of that, you know fun stuff growth for the future. CONGRATS on the ten years and it's fun because from an attribution and you know analytics side, where we might be moving back to how we did it ten years ago. So absolutely, yeah. Alson to kick us off today, can you give us just a high level overview on maybe start with the broader trends that we've been seeing from both tech companies and advertising platforms toward both user and data privacy? Yeah, absolutely so, since GDP are, which many people have heard of. It's called the General Data Protection Regulation, which came out in the EU and two thousand and sixteen, and really ever since then, more globally, there's been this push towards a you know, a cookie list future. You'll hear that a lot. There's a lot of webinars today talking about cookie, the Cook List Future. Yeah, and for what that really means is that there's this global push for Internet users to have more control over their privacy and their and data about them. So it's giving people more of a say and whether or not an application can use cookies to track their behavior and report you on. A cookie then reports back to its its source. So this is why, you know, in the last few years you've started to see a pop up banner on almost every website that you visit that notifies you this website uses cookies and it gives you the option to opt in or out. A lot of people, I think, don't even read these banners. It's just kind of now its second nature, click the button and move on. But what a cookie is, to back up for a second, is it's really a piece of data...

...that's stored in your web browser that is feeding information back to its source about what you're doing in your browser. So cookies are cookies for good or things that help a website know, say, that you're logged into that website, or what's in your cart, so that you know Amazon, for example, can show you an net for the thing that you put in your cart but didn't buy. And in the US, apple has been really leading the charge here. The United States is certainly far they're behind than the EU and it comes to this, you know, this privacy trend, but apple has kind of been pushing things forward. A few years ago they made a series of updates to safari, which was, you know, is a well used browser, restricting cookie use in safari. And then, of course, last week apple release the IOS fourteen point five software updates for iphones and IPADS, which really kind of brings us to this discussion today, because this is kind of the the new the new reality of, you know, pushing for this cookulous future. Yeah, let's dig into that. Can you give us just kind of an overview on apple's IOS fourteen point five software update and how that's going to start changing things for data driven marketers? Yeah, absolutely so. With the release of IOS fourteen point five, apple will begin to require APPs in the APP store to show a prompt to users. You might have even already seen one of you so far if you've opened an APP or if your phone automatically updated, where it's asking the user to opt in or out to allow that APP to track their activity. And so they're going to now require this in the APPs to for any APPS in the APP store and any APP that's on an IOS fourteen point five device. And this is significant because apple says that I ios fourteen is now installed on eighty one percent of iphones that were introduced in the last four years, which is them. That's it's pretty big. And so if you're on IOS fourteen, then you should expect that you're going to get that fourteen point five update and then also you know, iphone in general with has such a huge market share. In Two thousand and twenty one. It's SSI needed to be about fifty percent of global device us. So it's significant. And then what that means for marketers really is that facebook has kind of been forced to alter their ads platform and response to these updates and it's going to require advertisers to make some changes to their account. From a big picture perspective, what this is doing for users is that a user could expect adds that they were typically, you know, experiencing and their facebook feed or in their everyday life as an internet consumer to be less personalized. So, you know, the past I might see ads for kids toys or diapers was a small kids at home, but now, you know, there's going to be less information available to the ad platform about me, so I might start to see less of those ads and more ads about dog food when I don't actually have a dog, but they think that I'm a dog lover. So for users that's the impact and for advertisers, naturally, what that means is that, you know, we're going to be able to deliver less personalized adds to our target audience. And what it also means is that campaigns in facebook in particular are going to be limited to some extent when they are specifically focused on a conversion event. So, for example, if my goal is to have you Eric, you know, click through to my website and then fill out this inquiry form about, you know, a Master's program if I was optimizing for that conversion of you filling out that inquiry form, I'm likely going to have less data and less specific reporting, and so as a result of that, marketers are anticipating, you know, their campaign success to be affected to some degree as a result of that. Yeah, so, teeing off that example, I might still get the student, I still might...

...still get the lead, but when I look at my facebook report, it might see that I spent the money but not necessarily know whether or not I got this student or not. So, if I'm a university running paid social campaigns on facebook, what are the things I need to just to make sure that I do right away for this? Yeah, great question. So the first thing is that I was working. Point five rolled out last week. So not to scare anybody, but if you haven't prepared yet, you know you might have some catching up to do, but it's not too late. And you know, universities in particular, I think, are in somewhat of a precarious position here because, you know, for smaller universities, where their marketing is more centralized, this might be a bit easier, but for larger institutions, and particular we work with tool and university and we found that, you know, they had as many as fifteen to twenty nine different entities within the school that we're using facebook ads in their own way and not all through the same account. And so the first thing that I think that you know and universities need to do is to, as first step, understand the current state of facebook ads at your university. So what we did with too lane in particular was we worked with with the limited marketing team that is, you know, part of Central University, and then ran a survey with all of the different marketing contacts across all the different schools and, you know, solicited some information from them about, you know, are you using facebook adds, how are you using it? You know, what types of campaigns are you running? Do you have your own business manager account? All these details that we needed to collect because it was going to influence our decision making down the line. So, all that said, first point is if marketing at your university is decentralized, you you need to get a grasp on the current state of facebook advertising in particular, and if it is more centralized than you know, just just making sure that you have an understanding of what you're using your campaigns for to some extent. If you are not running any conversion optimized campaigns, like, let's say you only use facebook ads for brand awareness, this updates not going to have a huge impact on you. But I would think, you know, most effective ad campaigns are in fact optimizing for up conversions to some degree, and so they're going to need to take action. So, being on that, the second step is in something that's new through these facebook changes is that advertisers have to verify their domain within facebook business manager to effectively certify that you, Your Business Manager Account, your ad account, has the right to run adds for that website. Now, again, when you think about decentralized, you know, marketing at a university, you've got one domain, two lean duty to you, but you've got fifteen different advertisers. So who gets to claim that verification of that domain? And so that's where that collaboration really comes in. We had to kind of establish a new business manager account that would host that domain verification and then we needed to connect all of the, you know, the disparate business manager accounts as partners, and there's all ways to do this. There is there's definitely a, you know, framework that all that can be done, but that dontain. Verification is stuff too. It's really important. And then, third facebook is now requiring, per domain that gets verified, you to choose and prioritize eight conversion event categories, and the past there was no limit. You know, it could be any number of conversion events that your campaigns could potentially optimize for, but now you're restricted to eight and you have to have them prioritized. Than than anyone who wants to advertise for that domain has to comply with those same eight conversion events and the prioritization that's used to there. So that's the next step, again, understanding what the campaigns are doing now, and so that's going to inform which a conversion event categories are you going to choose effectively. You...

...need to understand, you know, which of these can I choose? That's going to cover the majority of the campaigns that are exist with for this university. And so there're things like lead, which you know you would use for an inquiry based campaign. For example, if I want you to fill out a contact form, then that's effectively a lead if I'm looking for blinking on some of what the other ones are, but if I'm looking for, say, an awareness tactic, that that's one type of as, one type of conversion. So you get the idea. There's there's eight different ones and you have to or there's more than eight, but you have to choose eight and then prioritize those. And then last step for is, once that's done, you're likely going to have to set up some new conversion tracking in your facebook Pixel and then adjust your campaigns so that they are now optimizing towards those one of those eight newly set conversions. One thing I didn't mention prior is that we did have to, or we made a decision rather during this process with two lane to to actually move towards one universal facebook Pixel as opposed to all these different advertisers having their own. And so that's another consideration you another decision that may need to be made because the complexity. It's pretty complex to then have, you know, one domain, very vacation, and you know any number of pixels. You almost have to choose one primary Pixel and for Tuling we ended up deciding that we would do one universal pixel across the domain. I love how you actually gave me an optimistic views to look at. This is a opportunity for audit in opportunity works use for centralization. If it's something that you've been fighting for in the past, here is your opportunity, friends. So love that, Alison. From a reporting standpoint, how will this change? How marketing teams will need to report on their spend, for example, and you mentioned if you're doing brand awareness and you're throwing, you know, fifty grand of this thing and no one's asking you what it did or why cool, you might not to do anything. But if I'm reporting lower funnel conversion campaigns, I'm used to being able to tell them three thousand, four thousand, five thousand per conversion. was going to change in my ability to report on those numbers, or what's going to happen to those numbers? Yes, that's as a great question and there will be impact there. So first, the attribution window for conversion campaigns is drinking quite dramatically from twenty eight days to seven days, and so you mentioned this earlier. But you know, this may not mean that your campaign will be back up. Your campaign may still influence a similar number of conversions as it did before, but because we can only track and attribute conversions within seven days back to your campaign as opposed to twenty eight days, your number is very well, are going to look very likely going to look smaller, especially in higher ed where we know this is a multitouch conversion. You know, people spend a lot of time thinking about these decisions and so you know it's unlikely that they're going to see your ad and convert, you know, immediately. And so if they did, Kudos to you've got great targeting, but it's going to decrease the amount of conversion you see reported and facebook ads. You kind of need to know that up front. They do have a tool available that you can kind of you can compare what your campaign, your attribution, looked like before to what it will look like with the new attribution window change. That's a really great tool to check out. But then there's also some some other things that will change for you know, for those who work in campaigns. Like you said, you know, if you're used to get being able to get down to a cross per inquiry or cost per conversion, you're going to see some differences. You're going to see a little bit of a delay in reporting. The reporting within facebook ads manager is going to be delayed up to three days, which which definitely would have an impact, say if you're running a short term campaign. So that's something to be aware of. Another is that breakdowns that we were used to seeing before, so delivery and action breakdowns such as like age, gender, Region or conversion device or placement, will not be supported...

...anymore. So we used to be able to get really granular to see, okay, this campaign is doing really well with women or this specific region, and so those things are going to be limited and that's certainly going to, you know, potentially impact or perform it's the other thing is that if it takes, you know, two actions or like let's say your campaign actually influence as a potential student to take two different actions. Maybe they inquire and start their application. That if that conversion event prioritization we were talking about is this is where that comes in. So let's say they inquired and they converted their up or they couldn't started their application rather in the first, you know, seven days of your campaign. So you actually do have those two conversions that could attribute back, but it's only going to attribute the highest priority event that you set in your event prioritization. So in that situation I'm going to assume you likely did start application as higher, higher importance or higher prioritization, and so it's going to count that as a started application conversion, but you're not going to get campaign credit for the fact that you also brought in that aquary. So those are some ways in which reporting is going to change and you know it's important, if you have a heavy facebook strategy, to, you know, make sure you're keeping an eye on the big picture, because we know that campaign data is going to be limited to a degree. So you're going to have to kind of keep that in mind, take everything with a grain of salt for a for a period of time until things normalize, and keep that eye on your pipeline data. And if you're you know, your typical pacing on inquiries is really far off, then you might need a day in and you might have a problem there. Love those thoughts house and let me restate a couple of them and then you ping back if I misunderstood you. So, yeah, facebook add performance will likely look worse than ever before, and the question is, is it actually worse or is just this the new normal? And our priority suggestions are run your historical data against your twenty eight day window versus your seven day window, understand the difference between those cost for enrollments or cpls to understand if, moving forward, that that trend looks similar. One of the thing that we did on our side was we ran android historical numbers and apple system numbers, and so if we lose sight of apples moving forward, can we make inferences based on what we're seeing happening on the android side and the other things? A Am I interpreting your suggestions correctly, and be any other things like that we should do when trying to understand future data by looking at our historicals? Yeah, you nailed it, and that's a really, really great idea, a good point about android versus apple. Yeah, so you know, you now dead. I can't think of anything else at the moment. Perfect, Alison. As these trends continue, we move further and further toward a privacy first, cookie lest world. What does Dada driven marketing, decisionmaking and attribution look like? A lot of a lot of us digital advertisers are wondering and pondering that question right now. Yeah, you know, we believe that one way forward is to to leverage platform the technology that that use first party data and other technology to tract users. So, for example, device ideas rather than cookies, and since we're in such a, you know, a mobile world, I think that that's going to become more prevalent. So, as an example, programmatic platforms, you know, have technology and solutions for this. So an example, one programmatic platform that we work with him we use for clients and uses device ideas and then it further anonymizes those into their own unique ideas. And what's great about that is that it taps eyes the user's behavior and interest together cross device, so it can kind of understand my behavior from, you know, working on my iphone to my laptop and so forth, and it doesn't rely on cookies and then, you know, can can be more compliant with some of these...

...privacy regulations and so, I mean, it remains to be seen. You know, I think they're this is a really hot topic right now and technology platforms are smart and the people who run them are smart. So we do expect that we're going to continue to see new technology introduced that helps advertising be as effective as you know it has been and also protects the consumer. Yeah, head add on too that for those listening, your internal marketing teams might need to up skill and level this interntwn to play this new, much more analytics driven game. Yes, absolutely, Nelson. Any final next steps for institutions listening to this today looking to stay ahead of these trends make better marketing spend is decisions. Where should they start? Good question, and I think you just kind of touched on where I was going to start, which is upskilling. I mean, you know, there's so much, there's so many different continuing ad opportunities out there for work and professionals on data analytics and marketing and all these different ways in which, you know, we need to be kind of upskilling and we're really seeing that come to life right now. Of like, if you're not doing this and you're not educating yourself, I mean speak to the value of Higher Ed. You know you gotta you're not going to build to keep up, so but they're but also there's a lot of people power that goes into staying ahead of these trends and adapting to them. You know, the platforms are the platforms, but it takes people staying on top of this stuff and, you know, centralizing, for example, or pulling and figuring out what's going on at your university. So one thing we've recommended to to land since we did that process of kind of getting our arms around what was happening at the university, we didn't necessarily completely centralize anything except maybe, you know, our pixel but in doing that kind of almost created the foundation for the the central, the small central marketing team to keep up with all of the different advertisers that are, you know, at the university. So if you can formalize a group such that you're able 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 those the goals are, those different departments and those different teams certainly going to make it easier. So what we kind of are doing with Tulan is almost establishing like some documentation. So, for example, if a new facebook advertiser or a new like, I say, a school at the university wants to start facebook advertising and they haven't before. They can provide that this starting point, this say, is like this is your pixel and this is that. You know, basically keep them in line with best practices and that just sort of helps. You know, if you know that everybody's in line at best practice, is going to make adapting in the future easier. And then another thing I would say is that we always tell out the importance of running a diverse campaign or a multi platform campaign. You want to have a diverse strategy so that you're never too dependent on any one platform for your lead generation. And you know what, if facebook ads blew up one day, you know, that's your whole pipeline, you'd be in trouble. So and you know, lastly, I'd say the leverage experts in the space agencies like yours a mind. We you know, we do this every day, and so we're compelled to stay up to date with these best practices and you know, the good ones can help translate that to you into real life and into your university. Like how do we actually deal with this? You know, in in practicality wells some. Thanks so much for your time today. What's the best place for listeners to connect with you if they have any follow up questions? Yeah, absolutely, and Eric, thank you for having me. It was a pleasure. You can find us online, of course, on, you know, all the show media, but we have a white paper specifically about this topic that anyone's welcome to download. It's at a quick link that you can use as SI dotly, IOS, Fourteen Ed and you know, if you want to learn more about how you know an agency like ours or you know,...

...if you need consulting with something like this, we're always available for that, but you can find us at search influencecom as well. Awesome. Thanks so much for joining us today, Alison. Thank you, Erica's a pleasure. Attracting today's new post traditional learners means adopting new enrollment strategies. Helix educations data driven, enterprise wide approach to enrollment growth is uniquely helping colleges and universities thrive in this new education landscape, and Helix has just published the second edition of their enrollment growth playbook with fifty percent brand new content on how institutions can solve today's most pressing enrollment growth challenges downloaded today for free at Helix educationcom playbook. You've been listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show on Itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listeninging. Until next time.

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