What’s the Best Way to Profit From Retargeting Ads – Post-iOS14.5?

retargeting facebook ads

I used to work for a mahoosive Facebook Ad agency. This agency had a favourite advertising strategy, which they implemented in every client ad account. Big budget or small budget, it was a strategy that worked. 

It went something like this…

Step 1 – You break your customer journey down into different stages of awareness:

  • Cold (Level 1) – i.e. no idea who you are or what your product does  
  • Warm (Level 2) – i.e. interacted with an ad, by watching a video, clicking a link or viewing a landing page 
  • Hot (Level 3) – i.e. added to cart, initiated checkout, or started a registration form 
  • Gotcha (Level 4) – i.e. they’re already a customer 

Step 2 – You create different target audiences on Facebook for each stage in the customer journey.

  • Cold – Interest-based audiences, demographic targeting, behaviour-based targeting, Look-a-like audiences
  • Warm – Custom audiences based on ad interactions, page engagement, video-views etc 
  • Hot – Custom audiences based on buying behaviour like adding to cart or entering payment details 
  • Gotcha – Behavioural targeting based on past purchases 

Step 3 – You craft different messaging, targeted at customers at each stage in the customer journey. This ensures your ads always meet your prospects where they’re at in their decision-making process.

I cover the messaging side of things in a previous blog. (Click HERE to get more detail on multi-layered messaging).

For several years, this was a fantastic way to convert cold audiences into paying customers. That is, until iO14.5 came along and ruined it for everyone. You see, this tiered messaging strategy relies on re-targeting ads to scoop up lost leads who don’t convert the first time of asking.

But one of the big issues advertisers have faced since the launch of iOS14.5, is a major drop in re-targeting performance. (I won’t go into the reasons why in this blog but if you’d like the background, you can read more about it HERE). It’s left many business owners and media buyers wondering if they should abandon Facebook advertising altogether. 

Now, I’m not gonna lie, iOS14.5 has rendered traditional re-targeting strategies more or less useless. But I’m here to tell you that all is not lost. That’s because there are a number of ways you can bypass this data destruction – and still make money from your re-targeting ads.

What Happens on Facebook, Stays on Facebook

(and why that’s great news for your re-targeting ads!)

The main reason why re-targeting ads no longer work is because Facebook has lost the ability to follow its users around the internet. Believe it or not, Facebook used to see every website you visited – even if you visited those sites outside of the Facebook App or Browser-based platform.

Creepy, huh?

But what if there was a way to keep your prospects’ data inside Facebook? Surely that would allow you to keep tabs on their behaviour – so you can re-target them based on their Facebook activity?

Yes yes yes!

The good news is there are plenty of ways to move your prospects closer to the sale, without them needing to leave the Facebook platform. Here are just a couple of ways to beat iOS14.5 and save your retargeting Facebook ads:


  1. Instant Experiences – Normally, when a prospect clicks your ‘Learn More’ or ‘Buy Now’ button, they’re taken to a separate page. It might be a shopify store or a dedicated landing page. 

You can think of instant experience ads On-Facebook mini storefronts or landing pages. They replicate the experience of visiting a landing page or online store, without the user ever needing to leave Facebook.

The benefit? You can keep track of link clicks and buying behaviour within the Instant Experience. And then you can re-target your users with tiered advertising messages based on where they reach in your on-Facebook sales funnel. 


2. Lead Forms – If you’re running a lead gen campaign, most business owners drive traffic to an off-Facebook opt-in page. And thanks to iOS14.5, when users hit your opt-in page, you’ve lost track of them forever. 

The good news is, Facebook lets you run lead ads directly to an on-Facebook form, so you can gather opt-in data like names, email addresses, phone numbers (and any other qualifying information you might need). 

You even have a small amount of space to include a headline and body copy, to entice people to fill in your opt-in form.

Again, the benefit of running traffic to an on-Facebook lead form is that you keep 100% of your user data. That means you can run re-targeting campaigns with much greater accuracy.


3. Video ads – A lot of advertisers are reluctant to run awareness campaigns at the Top of their sales funnel. That’s because they feel like they’re wasting money by not pushing for an instant sale.

Now there may be some truth in their argument. But it can sometimes be worth running top of funnel video ads. That’s because video ads allow you to create custom audiences made up of qualified leads.

Think about it this way. You show a video to ten people. Three of those ten people watch 90% of your content. The other 7 have no interest and keep on scrolling. Wouldn’t it make sense to run future ads ONLY to those who watched your video? Of course it would! Because you have strong evidence that they’re very interested in what you had to say.

Video ads are a great tool you can use to re-target qualified audiences with special offers…without wasting money on audiences that aren’t interested in your products. 


4. Slideshow ads – I know, I know. Video ads sound expensive and time-consuming to produce. So what if there was a way to get many of the re-targeting benefits you get from video ads, without any cringeworthy face-to-camera drama…and without forking out thousands on a fancy video editor?

Well, here’s some good news.

Facebook Ads Manager has a feature that lets you create video slideshows from your existing static images. All you have to do is gather together up to 15 graphics, and let Facebook transform them into a short video ad.

The best part is, Facebook registers slideshow viewers in the same way it registers video viewers. Which means you can easily re-target anyone who took the time to watch your slideshow. 

retargeting facebook ads

As you can see there are plenty of ways to get around iOS14.5 re-targeting misery, and run successful campaigns to warmer audiences. Yes, there will be some negative impact to your retargeting campaigns, especially if you’d got used to the heady conversions of 2019. 

But it’s good to know that all is not lost. Now, before I sign out – I want to share one last quick re-targeting tip I learned from fellow Facebook Advertisers. 

As I mentioned as the start of this article, my old agency used to break down their campaigns into small segments based on their movements through the sales funnel. And as you now know, that doesn’t work anymore.

But there’s a small shift which has been showing signs of working for some Facebook Advertisers. It’s to bundle up every type of warm audience into a single audience. Let me explain…

Instead of running one ad to a warm audience, another ad to a link-clicker, and another ad to any who added to cart – you simply create one ad that targets all those people in one go. It’s not as effective as the old way of doing things, but it’s giving advertisers the best results (for now!).

Until next week 🙂 

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