Paid Social Media in 2022

Stephen McCance May 19, 2022

It’s been a year since the infamous iOS14 update from Apple changed how businesses advertise on Facebook (aka Meta) and it’s driving most people in the industry crazy. How can businesses truly analyse and learn from data this inaccurate? How can agencies show clients accurate results from ad performance? And how can businesses scale on a platform that offers such little reliability. Let’s take a look at everything from the update itself to some of the techniques we’ve learnt and adapted over the past year…

The Update

For anyone who hasn’t heard, or has started their business in the past year, in January 2021  iOS14 update began to roll out and gave Apple users the opportunity to opt out of tracking via the users’ apps. While this might be nice for the user, it meant that anyone who opted out of tracking would not have their data shared on Meta (Facebook & Instagram) and this meant that if a user bought a product or made an inquiry via an on app advert, the data wouldn’t be shown in reporting for the purposes of advertising.

Pre iOS14, a business would be able to see the users’ interaction data i.e. transaction, spend and most importantly, the ROAS (Return on Advertising Spend), metrics which shoudn’t really warrant concern from users. This performance data meant that a business could tailor ads towards the right users based on their interests, but now it’s all changed. Now ROAS reports have plummeted as most users choose to decline being tracked (usually a natural reaction when your phone asks if you’d like to be tracked) and data is completely skewed, meaning that a different approach to advertising was needed.

Additional Changes on Facebook & Instagram

Two other substantial changes have occurred over the past year to make advertising even more difficult for businesses, the first being a change in pricing. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, online traffic spiked and the need to advertise your business via social media became essential, this meant more brands spending more money on advertising which meant advertising space on social media became more expensive. In the last year the cost of ad space has got more expensive meaning that same advertising spend will have a lower reach than before. There isn’t an exact percentage on how much more it now costs as it’s all dependent on the audience you want to target, so if other brands aren’t targeting your niche audience you might be in for a chance of a good reach vs your spend! But this isn’t the case for most.

The second update and more recent is Facebook’s decision to remove thousands of audiences to target, see below:

“Starting January 19, 2022 we will remove Detailed Targeting options that relate to topics people may perceive as sensitive, such as options referencing causes, organizations, or public figures that relate to health, race or ethnicity, political affiliation, religion, or sexual orientation.”

It’s likely that this is a positive move from Meta to avoid political manipulation and other negative targeting but it’s also a big blow for small and medium sized businesses. Facebook & Instagram have traditionally always been a great platform for small businesses to advertise on, the brand can select a very specific audience that they think will like their product/service, spend a small budget and finally see an accurate return on investment. Now these detailed audiences have disappeared it means that businesses have to advertise to bigger audiences that might not be suitable to their business, this along with the IOS14 updates means that you’re very unlikely to see positive results from your advertising.

Say you’re a nutritional product or service, you’d want to be able to target users based on their health interests as this is more likely to generate traffic to your website. While this may seem innocent, this would come under the banner of health and can no longer be targeted.

What Can YOU Do

Traditional analysis is now out the window and businesses need to change the way they review their ad performance. Analytics has also been an important tool for business but now it’s even more important. While ads manager (Facebook) can no longer report on some of your users data, analytics will still track it. So when you’re spending more on advertising you also need to be looking at analytics for insights, has traffic, revenue or session duration increased? Yes? Then your adverts could be having a positive impact. Ad spend should be based on your website’s overall performance and spend strategically to make the most of user intent. You can try spending more during pay day week, during holidays and looking at Google trends and your previous YoY data to see which months offer the most user intent.

The other area to prioritise is your businesses creatives. Most experts would agree that the key to good paid social advertising was finding the right audience, followed by strong creatives, now that audiences are broader and reach is lower your brand needs great creatives in a variety of formats. Consider stills, GIFs, user created videos, review bespoke story ads and much more when creating your advert. Sadly the one ad fits all approach only really worked when you could specifically pick a small audience to target.

Another essential to marketing in 2022 is learning about your customer lifetime value can also help your brand to grow. Seeing that your CPA is £30 for a £20 product will scare most business owners, but if you learn that the user will spend £130 with your brand in their lifetime, it makes your long term advertising strategy much healthier and realistic.

Meta’s Advice

While most would disagree, Metas advice is to put the lion’s share of your budget into one big audience. As an agency, we’ve had many meetings with Facebook and the Meta experts believe splitting your budget into multiple audiences (however big) won’t offer optimal performance. Instead they think combining all of those budgets and audience into one campaign will help the ads learn faster and perform better. After testing, more testing and researching other experts finding, this doesn’t look to be the case.

If you did want to try this, it’s suggested that you put all (or most of) your budget into one audience, give it time to learn, see the results and if it doesn’t perform well (don’t forget to review analytics) moving onto another audience.This is all pretty subjective and depend greatly on your budget.

The Alternatives 

As we all know there are some more social media channels to use but as the update is based on the Apple device the user has, rather than the app, the alternatives could struggle too, but here’s what’s worked well for us:


Depending on the product/service you’re offering, Snapchat has seen some real success over the past few years. With around 300 million users worldwide, this channel offers much more reliable returns and we’ve found a stronger ROAS reporting from our ads. It’s worth noting that around 50% of users are below the age of 25 and 65% of overall users are based in North America. Video content is key to seeing good performance on snapchat and while audiences/interests you can target are fairly broad, it’s been a reliable alternative to Facebook and Instagram as the cost per impression is much lower.


This is a pretty niche alternative as it has a pretty specific demographic and style of product expected to be seen. Most age groups use this channel and includes more than 400 million  active users (recently it was reported a 6% decline in users). This app has always strongly leaned towards women with current reports stating that over 70% of users are women. And on that note around 29% of adverts are displayed to women ages 25-34. Pinterest being a worthy alternative is very much dependent on your brand product and whether you think it fits into the app’s style!


Similar to Snapchat, TikTok is an alternative catered toward a younger audience. With nearly 50% of users being between the ages of 10 and 29, you’ll have to analyse whether TikTok is the right platform for your brand. Anyone familiar with this app knows it’s fairly unique in terms of its content, it’s user driven with homemade videos and audiences looking for anything between comedy and inspiration keeping up with latest TikTok trends filters are key to staying relevant. Other platforms can use the same creatives for months as they target new users, on TikTok you need to constantly update your creatives and users want to see the latest trends.

Future Proof Your Brand

SEO has never been more important for your brand, it’s the hub for the majority of channels and feeds them data based on your current traffic. While social media is good for targeting users who MIGHT be interested in your product, SEO guides users to your brand who are currently searching for your product, and you don’t want them visiting your competitors’ websites because they rank above you on the SERPs right? 

SEO is essential for future proofing your brand. Most channels require bigger investments for bigger returns. Put aside some of your marketing spend month to focus on your website’s online visibility. While you won’t see a ROAS immediately, you’ll see a far greater return in the long run.

How Red Cow Media Can Help

With over 10 years of experience in digital marketing, Red Cow Media creates a bespoke marketing strategy for your business. A one size fits all approach won’t work in 2022 and marketing your brand and identifying your strengths has never been more difficult. We’ll be able to offer you with a free proposal followed by an in-depth audit to give you an idea of which marketing channels will work for your brand, along with a constantly adapting strategy to make sure we’re optimising your budget.

We’re able for a call, email or even a visit if you’re local to Manchester to discuss your brand and the possibilities we can offer, get in touch to discuss your requirements.

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