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Bucking the trend – scaling through iOS 14.5 and beyond

iOS 14.5 presented some sizable challenges for digital marketers.

OK. That’s putting it mildly.

It actually caused complete chaos for many online advertisers and ad agencies. 

Since advertisers could no longer easily utilise pixel events, many campaigns were dealt a serious blow. 

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iOS 14.5 was undoubtedly a bit of a minefield. 

But where there’s a will, there’s a way.

So we used our collective agency brainpower to come up with a few smart solutions to the problem. 

These strategies allowed us to effectively navigate the iOS storm and deliver exceptional results for our e-commerce clients. Read on to find out more!

As a specialist Paid socials agency we can help you with your campaigns just get in touch for a free consultation.

What made iOS 14.5 such a nightmare?

The release of iOS 14.5 allowed Apple device users to easily opt out of online tracking.

Since accurate user tracking is fundamental to many advertising platforms (such as Facebook) this caused some serious issues for marketers. 

In the case of Facebook, this meant that advertisers tracking opt-in users were limited to 8 conversion events after a click (e.g. purchases, add to cart, view content). If a user opted out, only a single priority event could be tracked. 

Multiple website pixels were limited to tracking the same 8 events, so brands with numerous pixels in place were hampered. 

This was all bad news for Facebook campaigns. 

Retargeting strategies were disrupted, conversion tracking was less accurate, and many agencies were scrambling to find a new approach. 

But we put our heads together and tackled iOS head-on.

We’re big believers in long-term relationships with our clients. That’s why we’re particularly proud of our partnership with Accentuate, which has been going strong since 2018. 

Accentuate is a multi-award winning party game company with a successful appearance on Dragons Den, a range of unique products, and a dedicated customer following.

It’s safe to say that Accentuate has a brilliant e-commerce offering. They just needed some help with consistently increasing their online sales. 

And that’s where we came in. 

We developed a set of Facebook strategies that allowed Accentuate to drive jaw-dropping results for their business. Results like tripling sales between 2018 and 2021. 

All while managing the curve balls that iOS 14.5 threw our way. 

Not bad, if we say so ourselves. 

Let’s dive into these strategies and outline how we managed to successfully scale through the iOS 14.5 bedlam.

Setting Accentuate up for success – our ads strategy

In order to deliver consistently profitable Facebook campaigns for Accentuate, we needed to hit the ground running. 

That meant getting the campaign set up right. 

By putting a few key strategic pillars in place, we gave ourselves the best chance of quickly delivering positive results and gathering valuable insights. 

We knew that we’d be testing multiple audience segments as part of the campaign, and so ensured from the beginning that each audience was given a healthy minimum daily budget. 

This gave each audience an equal chance to perform and prevented the Facebook algorithm from focusing too much on a single segment with a higher budget. By allowing a fair test for each audience, we could be confident in the results we saw. 

Each ad set was also managed under a single campaign, which prevented crossover and stopped the same users from being targeted multiple times. 

Setting the campaign up in this way enabled us to control ad frequency with more accuracy since the algorithm could keep track of which users had already been targeted. 

We also remained focused on closely monitoring the Facebook data after setting up the campaign. 

By uploading our best audiences and creative assets at the beginning of the campaign, we gave the Facebook algorithm the best chance of success. But once the activity was up and running, we trusted the numbers that we saw.

Rather than making assumptions about the best tactics, we let the data inform our optimisations – and the results speak for themselves. 

Refining the creative approach 

A solid creative is the key to any successful Facebook campaign. 

User-Generated Content can be a hugely powerful asset for paid social, and this Accentuate campaign was no exception. 

Below is an example of the type of UGC that was utilised. Including an impactful thumbnail (with interesting visuals and text overlay) was very important to keep users engaged even if the video didn’t load properly.

We were confident that these assets would drive high levels of engagement, increase clicks, and build a sense of authenticity with new customers. 

It’s vital to quickly establish trust with prospects, and UGC does a fantastic job of conveying quality and reliability. 

We also utilised Dynamic Creative Testing to rapidly trial different creative variations at scale.

Various combinations of ad text and headlines were applied to the same video assets and targeted to our key audiences. This allowed us to quickly identify the best-performing assets and refine our creative approach.

Once we’d established the winning creatives, we concentrated the budget on supporting these assets. 

By focusing on quality over quantity, we could quickly collect social proof in the form of positive comments on our Accentuate posts. 

These user testimonials were hugely valuable to our overall strategy, adding instant credibility to our ads and encouraging new customers to make a purchase. 

Running too many ads for an extended period makes gathering social proof difficult, as the comments are spread out across multiple posts. 

Tightening Facebook targeting

To consistently increase sales for Accentuate, we knew that we needed to quickly identify and reach the most profitable audiences.

Previous campaign insights told us that larger audience sizes were better suited to fuel sales. 

As a result, we made sure that audience segments were relevant to the product but sizable enough to deliver scale. A larger pool of customers gave the algorithm a better opportunity to test and learn. 

By trialling different audiences and experimenting with Interest filters, we were able to rapidly optimise the campaign. 

Interest segments such as Shopping & Alcohol proved to be highly effective. We also experimented with different Lookalike match rates from previous customers (from 1-10%) to find warm prospects. 

A range of retargeting audiences were also implemented, including users who: 

  • Initiated checkout in the last 25 days
  • Engaged with the Accentuate FB/Instagram profile in the last 30 days
  • Visited the Accentuate website in the last 2 days/7 days/30 days

Balancing accurate audience targeting with larger segments enabled the Facebook algorithm to work its magic and consistently deliver increasing numbers of sales. 

Making impactful optimisations 

Implementing the right Facebook optimisations is critical. 

To deliver optimal results for Accentuate, we focused on optimising every aspect of the campaign – from audience segments to bidding strategies and creative assets.

Different optimisation routes were constantly tested. Some ad sets were optimised towards purchase value, while others were optimised towards conversion volumes.

We also tested a batch of identical creative assets with different audience segments and bidding strategies. By quickly optimising towards the most successful ads, we discovered the ideal bidding approach to balance volume and cost-efficiency. 

Testing and guiding the Facebook algorithm in this way is crucial. Although machine learning is powerful, sometimes the platform needs a nudge in the right direction. 

Below are snapshots of our bid tests, where different Bid Cap and Cost Cap tactics were compared.

In this instance, we tested a range of different Bid Caps and compared the ROAS and spend of each ad set. Although a 1.2x Bid Cap delivered the highest pure ROAS, 1.6x and 1.7x bids achieved a healthy ROAS while spending more. 

Although a higher spend can often result in poorer performance, a Bid Cap prevents the platform from blindly spending budget. 

This allows us to find the perfect balance, meaning we can participate in more auctions (at the right cost) and increase optimisations due to higher purchases. 

We gathered similar insights from our Cost Cap tests. 

Lower bids struggled to spend (although they maintained a brilliant ROAS) while a slightly higher 0.9x and 1x bid managed to balance a positive ROAS with strong purchase volumes. 

Optimisation is an ongoing process. The Facebook algorithm is constantly updating, so it’s vital to invest time into monitoring reports, identifying new trends and testing different tactics. 

iOS 14.5 made life pretty difficult for Facebook advertisers. But there’s always a solution. 

We managed to achieve exceptional results for Accentuate by focusing on the fundamentals of a successful Facebook campaign – set up, creative strategy, audience targeting, and optimisations. 

By constantly striving to improve and enhance these areas, we were able to overcome the iOS 14.5 challenges and deliver great performance for some happy clients. That’s a success in our book.



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