Embrace Change

I started this website in 2011. I’ve been running Facebook ads to promote this business since then. The changes I’ve seen…

Remember Power Editor? Only the advanced advertisers — and those who wanted to be advanced — used it. Everyone else used the “Self-Serve Ad Tool.” Power Editor had all of the test features before they were mainstream. It was the only way to run ads to mobile devices. And it was buggy and confusing and drove us crazy.

Facebook Power Editor

Remember when custom audiences became a thing? The first custom audience was for your email list. Just a single column of email addresses. We were so excited to be able to target our current customers.

Facebook Custom Audiences

Remember Partner Categories? Facebook partnered with data mining companies Acxiom, Epsilon, and Datalogix so that we could target people based on buying histories and lifestyles. You could target people who owned a certain car, bought a specific brand of shoe, or were in the market for a home.

Facebook Partner Categories Power Editor

Remember FBX? This was first version of website remarketing and you had to go through third-party vendors (PerfectAudience and AdRoll) to do it. And it was glorious.

Facebook FBX Retargeting Lists

Remember the Conversion Pixel? Yeah, not like we have now. It was also called the Offsite Pixel, and it was only used for reporting. You had to manually place that pixel on the individual pages where conversions happened. No third-party integration.

Facebook Conversion Pixel Created

Remember Domain Sponsored Stories? These were specific kinds of ads that allowed you to target people who had engaged with your domain. It was a very early example of remarketing.

Facebook Domain Sponsored Story Example

Remember when Lookalike Audiences were announced? We could target people SIMILAR to our actual customers! It was mind-blowing.

Facebook Create Lookalike Audience Power Editor

Remember Conversion Specs? I gotta be honest… I barely do, too. But we could “overwrite” Facebook’s default optimization in favor of a like… or something. It was wild.

Facebook Conversion Specs Overwrite Actions

Advertising was so primitive and basic. We made it more complicated, and now it’s becoming basic again.

Just think about all of the changes during the past few years, beginning with iOS 14. Aggregated Event Measurement, attribution settings, special ad categories, removal of interests, audience expansion, Advantage+ Creative, Advantage+ Shopping, Advantage+ Audience, and the 30 other “Advantage” and “Advantage+” features.

My point, after all of these memories, is this…

Stop trying to keep things the way that they were. Things are changing. Either embrace the changes or get left behind.

That doesn’t mean that you need to abandon every strategy you ever used five years ago. But, you should absolutely scrutinize it and test it ruthlessly against modern options.

That doesn’t mean that you should trust every Meta advancement in AI, machine learning, and optimization. But you should continuously test them. You should understand how they work and their potential benefits. These features are the future of advertising.

You may still get decent results while “kicking it old school” with your ad strategies. I fully admit that there’s one I just can’t abandon. But don’t pat yourself on the back so loudly that you ignore the opportunities that are right in front of you.

Be open to doing things differently. Accept that making fundamental and structural changes is almost always painful.

It’s quite likely that the future of advertising is going to make several more painful evolutions during the next year or two. Expect your targeting options to continue to diminish, if not disappear entirely. But also expect enormous advancements in optimization and ad creative driven by AI.

Enter this next phase with a curious and skeptical mind. Test, experiment, and question what you’re doing and why. And know that one day, you can look back and reminisce about all of the ridiculous “Advantage” features we had, back when advertising was primitive.

Your Turn

What are your favorite old school advertising memories?

Let me know in the comments below!

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