‘Doubled our workload in a lot of places’: Confessions of a DTC media buyer on Facebook headaches caused by iOS changes

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This article is part of our Confessions series, in which we trade anonymity for candor to get an unvarnished look at the people, processes and problems inside the industry. More from the series →

For years, direct-to-consumer brands focused digital ad dollars on Facebook to help build their brands. More recently, that strategy has proved challenging as privacy shifts due to Apple’s iOS 14 update have added difficulties with targeting as well as attribution. For the latest edition of our Confessions series, in which we trade anonymity for candor, we heard from a DTC media buyer on how the privacy changes have made his job more difficult.

This conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.

The iOS privacy changes have had an impact on the amount of Facebook’s available data for media buyers. How has that impacted your job? 

I feel like we’re back to this needing to prove the worth of Facebook again, which was like a big part of 2015. It’s making one ad account feel like two or three. It’s doubled our workload in a lot of places. Clients just don’t think Facebook is working so we’re having to spend hours creating reports on how Facebook is having an impact on their business. 

Why’s that?  

It’s because the Facebook platform performance has dropped and we’re losing a lot of visibility of what’s working and not working. We’re using Google Analytics to tell us how well Facebook is doing. We would do this before — we’d check in here and there — but now we’re using it to make decisions about Facebook. With some accounts we’re seeing almost a two-to-one of Google Analytics conversions versus Facebook conversions.

What do you wish clients’ understood about Facebook now? 

How Facebook drives traffic across all channels. It increases organic search, branded paid search and direct traffic — a lot of Facebook traffic shows up as direct traffic — and how it works with the full ecosystem. [Clients] are seeing that smaller Facebook number but then blended ROAs is the same or better so we’re having to show them how Facebook is adding value in other areas. It should be the growth director’s job to do that. We’re kind of coaching them on how to prove the worth of it. Facebook contributes to the overall awareness and lift of everything. You need to think about it as an ecosystem rather than a single channel. 

Would you say the way that brands think about Facebook needs to shift because of the privacy shifts?

Facebook contributes to the overall awareness and lift of everything. You need to think about it as an ecosystem rather than a single channel. [Clients need to] invest in their brands. Add value to their communities. Invest in influencer marketing, organic social, and find ways to partner with other brands. 

DTC brands relied heavily on Facebook ads for years to build brands. Clearly that’s not the case anymore. How are you managing that?

For us, we’re trying to focus on more brands that are doing retail. Brands that have the omnichannel presence already get it, they know about the ecosystem and how investing in the brand can drive those retail sales so we’re trying to find more opportunities to work with those types of brands.


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