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Why It’s Time to Rethink Facebook Remarketing Ads

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It’s no secret that Facebook remarketing ads have been a powerhouse for e-commerce and B2B brands for years now. They’ve been one of the most effective ways to reach out to past website visitors and get them interested in your product or service. However, recent updates to Facebook’s data security measures have made it much more difficult – and expensive – to target users based on their behavior on your website.

As a result, many brands are rethinking their remarketing strategies and looking for new ways to reach their target audiences. Today, we’re diving into a few of the ways brands can still reap the benefits of retargeting and lookalike audiences on Facebook while limiting the impact of rising ad costs.

What are Facebook Remarketing Ads?

Before we dive deeper into the actionable strategies you can begin using today, let’s take a look at what remarketing ads actually are.

In simplest terms, Facebook remarketing ads are advertisements that target users based on their past interactions with your brand.

These are the ads that seem to follow you around the internet. Have you ever had the experience of seeing an ad for a topic you were recently thinking about? Chances are, that’s a retargeting ad. And while these ads aren’t really being triggered by your thoughts, they are being triggered by your behavior.

For example, if a user visits your website but doesn’t make a purchase, you could target them with a Facebook ad for the product they were interested in. These ads were highly effective for years because they’re shown to people who have already expressed an interest in what you’re selling.

How Do Facebook Retargeting Ads Work?

The process of creating a retargeting ad on Facebook is actually pretty simple and doesn’t require any special coding or technical knowledge.

All you need is a list of the people you want to target – which can be pulled directly from your website’s traffic, among other sources – and then create an ad that will be shown to only those people.

Popular data sources for retargeting ads include:

  • Customer lists
  • Website and landing page visitors
  • Visitors to your Facebook or Instagram channels
  • App users

You can also create “lookalike” audiences, which are similar to retargeting ads but don’t require past interactions with your brand. Lookalike audiences show your ads to people who have similar interests or demographics to your current customers.

How Have Facebook Remarketing Ads Changed?

Retargeting ads used to be the golden ticket for Facebook advertisers, especially e-commerce and B2B advertisers. But the iOS14 update has brought about a big change to the Facebook remarketing game, and many brands aren’t happy about it. This update to Apple devices requires all apps – including Facebook – to get explicit permission from users before tracking their data off of the platform.

Since over 113 million people in the United States and over a billion worldwide use iPhones, the impact on a brand’s potential audience was significant.

Besides the changes to the advertisers’ ability to effectively remarket, Meta — the parent company of Facebook — has been systematically removing their once hyper-granular interest and demographic-based targeting options for years now.

As a result of both of these changes, among others, many brands have seen their ad spend increase as they’ve been forced to rely on broader, top-of-the-funnel audiences.

3 Ways Brands Can Rethink Facebook Retargeting

While these changes have been challenging for some brands to navigate, Facebook advertising is still a very powerful channel for advertisers, even for brands on a budget. Below, let’s take a look at three strategies you can use to get your Facebook ads back on track while keeping costs reasonable.

Learn to Love ToFu Ads

One of the great things about retargeting ads based on users’ off-Facebook behavior is that they helped move prospects down the funnel quickly. Marketers have long shied away from top-of-the-funnel (ToFu) ads because it can be harder to communicate their value to clients.

But ToFu ads are often some of the least expensive ads to run, and they can help you build a warmer, middle-of-the-funnel audience along the way.

When advertisers restrict their audiences by adding more and more interests and demographic parameters that they think align with their target persona, they may be missing out on who their real audience is.

Running top-of-the-funnel brand awareness campaigns with a broad audience and targeting a low CPM (cost-per-mille, or the amount you pay for 1,000 impressions) can give you a chance to reach prospects you may not have known are prospects at all.

And as those prospects raise their digital hand to signal their interest in your product or service, you can then follow up with a different kind of remarketing strategy.

Video ads are an especially great way to go about this. You see, you have about 2 to 3 seconds to capture someone’s attention before they move on. Because Facebook gives advertisers the ability to target audiences based on how much of the video was watched, users who watch for longer periods of time are great candidates for engagement-based retargeting. 

Embrace on-Facebook Remarketing

While off-Facebook retargeting can certainly be part of your ad strategy moving forward, it may be time to take a closer look at on-Facebook retargeting.

Building retargeting audiences based on user activity on Facebook and Instagram can be nearly as effective — and certainly less expensive — than its iOS14 impacted counterpart. Meta offers advertisers a number of on-platform data sources that can be used to build both remarketing and lookalike audiences.

These data sources include:

  • Videos: reach users who viewed one of your videos on Facebook.
  • Lead Forms: reach people who either submitted or opened a lead generation form on Facebook.
  • Shopping: deliver ads to people who interacted with your products in your Facebook catalog.
  • Instant Experience: show your ads to users who opened or interacted with an Instant Experience on Instagram or Facebook.
  • Events: reach people who showed interest in your Facebook event.
  • Instagram Account or Facebook Page: show ads to users who visited or engaged with your Instagram or Facebook page, or one of your ads.
  • On-Facebook Listings: build an audience of people who engaged with your on-Facebook catalog listings.

The great thing about just about all of these on-Facebook remarketing options is that they are not impacted by iOS14, and your top-of-the-funnel advertising efforts are precisely what helps to build these warmer audiences!

Delivering retargeting ads to users based on their engagement with your brand is a great way to help build your brand’s ‘know, like, and trust factor’ and to make your brand more relatable with each new campaign. 

Keep Conversions on Facebook

While it may be much harder to deliver targeted ads to your landing page visitors, you can still effectively move prospects further down the funnel by keeping your conversion point on Facebook.

Facebook lead generation ads used to get a bad rap for flooding marketers with low-quality leads, but they’ve come a long way since then. If you’re not using them and you’re still relying on landing page conversions, you may be missing out.

These days, conversion experiences on Facebook can be as low or high friction as you’d like. Lower friction — meaning fewer steps for a user to hand over their contact information — can still result in low-quality leads who may or may not be truly interested. But higher friction forms can separate the wheat from the chaff and deliver affordable marketing qualified leads your sales team will love.

The key to increasing lead quality on lead generation campaigns is to take a full-funnel approach and leverage the two strategies we’ve already discussed.

Final Thoughts

As with all pivots or innovations, it’s always a good idea to let the data dictate your next steps. Take a look at your historic campaign costs, and determine how impacted your brand truly was by the iOS14 and related updates. Chances are if you are an e-commerce or B2B brand, the impact was significant. 

Facebook retargeting may not be as effective or affordable as it once was thanks to increased data privacy concerns and the corresponding reactions from tech giants like Apple. Still, that doesn’t mean we should throw the baby out with the bath water. A few simple adjustments to the way marketers think about Facebook advertising can keep costs down and conversions high.

If you’re not sure whether to take the plunge, these 5 steps for innovating can help you determine the right course of action for your brand. 

By expanding your top-of-the-funnel audience and nurturing them using on-Facebook and engagement-based retargeting, you’ll have an audience of prospects who are ready to convert without ever leaving Facebook.

It’s safe to say that Facebook remarketing is here to stay, even if it does look a little different than it did in the past.

Ryan Gould

Vice President of Strategy and Marketing Services

Elevation Marketing

From legacy Fortune 100 institutions to inventive start-ups, Ryan brings extensive experience with a wide range of B2B clients. He skillfully architects and manages the delivery of integrated marketing programs, and believes strongly in strategy, not just tactics, that effectively align sales and marketing teams within organizations.LinkedIn:


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