Digital media is constantly changing, prompting marketers to change their strategies at breakneck speed. Even a subtle change by digital advertising channels can dramatically affect responses and outcomes. When the changes are significant, they can have a monumental impact on critical financial results. Facebook and Google, two behemoths in digital paid media, have recently implemented significant changes, and promise even more in the pipeline. How will this affect digital advertising content and strategies in 2021?

Facebook Removing the 80-20 Rule (Sort Of)

Rumors of Facebook removing its infamous 80-20 rule first hit the digital airwaves in early fall of 2020. Facebook officials confirmed a few months later that these rumors were indeed true. Previously, Facebook required the main image in paid ads to contain less than 20% text. The social media company gave marketers a built-in tool to check whether the text overlay on the main ad image took up more or less than 20% of the space. If it did, Facebook would reject the ad.

Now, though, that rule is gone … somewhat. Though Facebook confirmed in November 2020 that it would no longer block ad images containing more than 20% text, those ads will see reach limited, sometimes significantly.

Related Post: Improving Your Social Media Marketing Game 

Facebook will now categorize paid ads based on an image text rating. If an ad has a low, medium, or high text rating, its reach could be significantly lower than expected. Facebook's goal is to serve their users with content they want, and that's image-heavy posts without a lot of text overlay.

The best way for marketers to approach this "new" Facebook rule is to operate as if nothing has changed. 

While Facebook won't block paid ads with more than 20% text, they will limit the reach. Image-heavy ads perform best, so it's recommended to stick as close to the original 80-20 rule as possible.

Facebook has also launched what it's calling Business Suite, enabling users to integrate posts, notifications, alerts, and analytics from Instagram and Facebook into one dashboard. Business Suite is a great tool for marketers to use if they're running paid advertising on both platforms.

In 2021, another trend on Facebook paid advertising is likely to be the expanded use of hashtags. This is not something most marketers tended to use in the past, but it could be an effective way to reach a broader audience in the new year.

Privacy, AI, and Video Are at the Forefront for Google

The most significant change to Google digital advertising for 2021 is the limited access to data that marketers will have. In response to privacy legislation, such as Europe's General Data Protection Regulation, Google will be limiting search data availability. Now, marketers will only have access to terms "searched for by a significant number of users."

This change is a move toward consumer data protection that addresses privacy concerns. It'll make the job of marketers who use PPC (and automated remarketing) much more difficult.

At the same time, it's likely to drive an entirely new wave of creativity in digital advertising. Instead of the same old ad formats, messaging, and timing, marketers will be forced to implement more creative strategies to reach a targeted audience. That, in turn, is likely to produce a more effective response.

In two other areas, Google makes it easier for marketers to take advantage of its artificial intelligence tools. Responsive Search Ads (RSAs), for example, will automatically optimize the ad copy, CTA, and headlines based on search terms and audience. 

Google Ads are also set to see AI optimization. The new tweaks to Google's AI are likely to make it easier for marketers to reach their target audiences at times when they're most likely to make a purchase. 

Perhaps the most profound change to Google paid ads in 2021, though, is the rise of video. Visual and video ads have already taken over social media. Now, they may do the same on Google. 

The focus will be on YouTube video integration, allowing marketers to target customers while they watch their favorite videos. Marketers shouldn't ignore YouTube; it's the second-largest search engine, with an estimated 60 billion daily users in the U.S. alone.

Wrapping up 2021 Changes in Paid Media and PPC

Understanding and embracing the changes coming to Facebook and Google will be essential to marketers in 2021 and beyond. While some of the changes are likely to cause you to make adjustments to your strategy, they will ultimately result in more creativity and a better response rate. In the end, that's what should matter to marketers. If you want results for your clients and campaigns, get in touch with the digital marketing team at Ironmark. We're ready to help. 

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Written by Lynne Kingsley

Lynne Kingsley oversees the digital marketing client services team as well as the marketing strategy division for the company. Since joining the company in 2016, she has increased Ironmark’s digital presence by over 700%, establishing a new lead generation mechanism for the sales team. A certified inbound marketing professional and HubSpot agency partner, Kingsley has been helping companies transform their marketing function into fully diverse and streamlined growth engines since 2003. With agency and client-side work under her belt, Kingsley’s strategic experience spans both the B2B and B2C sectors. Prior to joining the Ironmark team, she served as in-house marketing director for several non-profit organizations. Kingsley is an honors graduate of the S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communication at Syracuse University.
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