Big Changes Coming to Google Ad Delivery & Facebook Ad Targeting

Both Google and Facebook have recently announced important changes coming to their respective advertising platforms—changes that every business and digital marketing agency should be aware of.

On the Google side of things, accelerated ad delivery is going away in the coming weeks. And on the Facebook side of things, your prospects will soon have the ability to keep you from using off-Facebook behavioral data to retarget them on the platform.

Let’s discuss each of these changes in turn.

Google to sunset accelerated delivery next month

As of September 17, 2019, you’ll no longer have the option to select accelerated ad delivery for new search or Shopping campaigns; instead, you’ll have to opt for standard delivery. As for your existing campaigns, Google will automatically migrate them to standard delivery on October 1. Accelerated delivery will remain available for display and video campaigns.

When you select accelerated delivery, you tell Google to enter the ads within that campaign into every auction for which they’re eligible until your daily budget runs out. Alternatively, when you select standard delivery, you tell Google to spread your budget out over the course of the day (or over the course of whatever period you’ve scheduled your ads to run). Selecting standard delivery means withholding your ads from some of the auctions for which they’re eligible.

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Here’s what Google has offered as an explanation:

“[Accelerated delivery] isn’t effective for campaigns that aren’t limited by budget. And for campaigns that are limited by budget, this method can increase CPCs due to increased competition early in the day, or unintentionally spend most of your budget in earlier time zones.”

Auction prices fluctuate throughout the day due to changes in the level of demand for ad space; the greater the demand at a given time of day, the higher your cost per click will be. Because accelerated delivery means you’re entered into every auction for which you’re eligible until your budget runs out, opting for it substantially reduces your chances of capitalizing on the low-cost opportunities that emerge throughout the day—something that small businesses with limited budgets should generally aim to do. 

Regarding early time zones, Google is referring to the fact that your ad schedule is based on your time zone—not the time zones of the people you’re reaching. If your Google Ads account is based in Nairobi and you’ve set your ads to begin running at 9 a.m., your prospects in New York City can start seeing them at 2 a.m.

These are valid arguments on Google’s part; accelerated delivery can certainly lead to inefficient budget allocation for those who lack the bandwidth to meticulously manage their accounts. However, accelerated delivery definitely has its merits. For example, if you’re running a limited-time sale and you want to get in front of your competitors’ prospects, accelerated delivery is a great way to quickly drive a high volume of impressions and clicks.

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Elsewhere, if your Quality Score for a particular keyword is lagging behind (for whatever reason), accelerated delivery can function as a gas pedal that gets you in front of target users nonetheless.

What does this mean for you?

To many account managers, the retirement of accelerated delivery is yet another indicator that Google wants its advertisers to cede control and put faith in automation. Recent changes to phrase match and modified broad match keywords, for example, will force advertisers to trust Google’s ability to automatically recognize user intent. Not everyone is happy with these changes.

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Via Twitter user @EricHeiken.

On the other hand, those of you working with limited budgets probably weren’t using this option anyway, as it’s a really easy way to burn through your money. (We usually advise our small and midsize clients against it.)

Nonetheless, we want to make sure that those of you who have been using accelerated ad delivery are prepared for its impending retirement. Alex Reardon, an account manager on our in-house agency team, recommends using positive bid adjustments earlier in the day to compensate for changes in when your ads are delivered. Alternatively, if you’ve been using accelerated delivery to boost the visibility of a campaign with low daily search volume, you may want to shift some additional budget towards those keywords.  

Facebook to let users block third-party data usage

Following through on a promise made by CEO Mark Zuckerberg at last year’s F8 Conference, Facebook has announced the limited roll-out of the Off-Facebook Activity Tool. With it, users can see overviews of the information that third-party apps and websites (that’s you) have uploaded to Facebook in order to reach them with targeted ads. If they feel so inclined, users can disconnect this information from their accounts—thus taking away your ability to retarget them—and prevent the use of personal information for behavioral targeting going forward.

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Via Facebook.

In a nutshell: Your prospects can block you from remarketing to them on the basis of non-Facebook activity (e.g., visiting your blog, downloading your app, etc.). However, you’ll still be able to remarket to users based on their behavior while using Facebook; people who’ve watched your videos, for example, are totally fair game.

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You can use data collected on Facebook for custom and lookalike audiences.

The Off-Facebook Activity tool will initially roll out in Ireland, Spain, and South Korea before going global at some point later this year. We’ll make sure to keep you updated.

What does this mean for you?

Towards the end of the announcement blog post, Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan and Director of Product Management David Baser admit that “this could have some impact” on Facebook’s revenue going forward—the idea being that diminished targeting capabilities will encourage some businesses to ditch Facebook advertising altogether.

Though that’s understandable—we’ve long appreciated the power of behavioral remarketing here at WordStream—I’d encourage you to stick with Facebook Ads despite this change. Even if a large portion of your target audience decides to use the tool (not super likely), you still have the power to reach them based on characteristics (demographics, interests, etc.) and on-Facebook activity (form fills, video views, etc.). For additional guidance, our in-house expert Kristina Simonson recently shared 11 creative Facebook ad targeting strategies you can use.

Regardless of the impact this tool has on ad targeting, the fact that Facebook is taking steps to be more transparent about user data is undoubtedly a good thing.

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