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Jono DuguidDec 31, 2021 1:46:00 PM3 min read

Wrapping Up 2021 - Reviewing a Year of Big Changes and Trends in Performance Marketing

2021 certainly was one of the biggest years in Performance Marketing and Paid Media.


R17 Ventures CEO, Raphael Rohner, along with our Head of Paid Social, Jandré Scholtz and Head of Search, Lorenzo Labia, reflect on some of the big events of 2021: the biggest happening being Apple's iOS 14 rollout.


3 core takeaways from 2021 were:

Trust Top Line Revenue

Owing to iOS 14 and the increased use of ad blockers and browsers that prevent tracking, monitoring the effectiveness of paid media has meant that E-Commerce stores have had to trust the top line revenue within the store.

𝗔.I. Machine Learning

The advancement in A.I. machine learning over the past year has been astronomical - meaning that performance marketers have had to focus less on the technical hacks of years past, and instead devote their energy to creating a strong strategy with a strong sales message and strong creatives.

The Metaverse

Advertising is becoming more and more of an immersive experience, engaging with consumers differently than in the past.

Zooming in on Paid Social, 2021 brought with it a lot of hurdles for performance marketers and paid media specialists to tackle.


Auto Account Bans

Following the US election, Facebook deployed A.I. to screen accounts, which lead to large scale automated account bans at the beginning of 2021. Many of the bans appeared to be irrational, as they were not linked to content or targeting violations and as such, had to be reversed following an appeals process.

iOS Update

All social channels were affected by Apple's iOS 14 update, including Snapchat and TikTok; however, Facebook appeared to have been hit the hardest.

Attribution Windows: The impact of iOS 14 meant that attribution windows were shortened significantly - from 28 days to 7 days, affecting products with a longer sales cycle, which in effect saw a decrease in tracked sales and as such, tracked ROAS (although sales remained steady within the e-commerce platform, further highlighting the need to trust Top Line Revenue and in-store sales).

Audiences: The iOS update also heavily affected audiences - both retargeted audiences and lookalikes - the impact of the former meaning that in some instances, middle of funnel ad sets have needed to be consolidated allowing for the A.I. machine learning to favour certain audiences based on data of who is more likely to convert at a given time.

Top of Funnel Acquisition: Another side effect of the iOS 14 update was the price of top of funnel acquisition, which in many cases became extremely expensive with very high CPMs (cost per 1000 impressions), the impact of which meant that many top of funnel campaigns on Facebook had to instead optimise for awareness, as opposed to conversion.

When reflecting back on Paid Search and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) in 2021, it's apparent that the year also brought with it a lot of big changes, particularly as platforms like Google Ads move towards A.I. based automation.


Broadening Match Types

There's been a shift in the way users search on Google. Users are using voice search and shorter sentences, whilst Google's auto complete has continued to advance (where users type in one or two words and get the rest of their sentence filled in. The result of this has been a complete change in the way that Google Ads defines match types. Broad match modifiers became deprecated in 2021 with phrase match taking their place, whilst exact match has become a little broader. Overall, we're seeing keywords in Google moving towards a broader future. The effect of which means that even more regular monitoring of search terms and updates of negative keywords needs to happen.

Ad Types

Responsive ad types are becoming the new standard, with extended text ads being phased out.

Data Crackdown

With plans in motion to move to a cookie-free internet and with iOS 14 updates and the like, it is become increasingly important to have first party data for machine learning and retargeting.

Jono Duguid

Senior Business Development Manager - 12yrs+ Experience in Digital Marketing