The Importance Of Target Audience Testing In Marketing With ATT
Audience Testing
iOS 14

The Importance Of Target Audience Testing In Marketing With ATT

Jon BrodyJon Brody

July 15, 2021

In our previous article, we talked about how the release of Apple’s iOS 14.6, which included App Tracking Transparency (ATT), has affected ad performance and how you can counter those effects. Now, we’ll discuss the effects of ATT on audience testing and what you need to do in order to survive in the post-privacy advertising world. If your marketing creative isn’t currently converting customers, it may be that you’re not reaching the correct audience. 

How To Figure Out Your Target Audience

To figure out who your audience is, you should be able to answer two simple questions.

  1. Who are your best users?
  2. What do they love most about your product?

If you can’t answer these two questions, you won’t be able to create content that converts. But, this is a common issue in marketing. Even established businesses have a hard time answering these questions with the precision needed. 

Audience Testing In The Past Was Made Easy By Facebook

In the past, many advertisers shifted the responsibility of audience testing to Facebook and allowed Facebook to do that targeting for them. Instead of doing it themselves, they trusted Facebook's internal algorithms to do it for them. This worked out very well, and it was a great, cost-effective tool that allowed those advertising on Facebook to promote their products to a wide range of people and cut through the noise to find the ideal customer.

How ATT Has Changed Facebook Advertising

With the release of the ATT privacy protection framework, the advertising landscape has changed drastically. Two critical changes are a decrease in targetable audiences based on activity across multiple sessions and in other iOS apps and a decrease in observable conversion rates. Anyone who advertises on Facebook will tell you that the performance of their iOS campaigns has suffered dramatically since the rollout of iOS 14.6. With an overwhelming number of users opting out of iOS tracking, advertisers are left in a tough spot. 

What can marketing companies do to combat the negative impact privacy protection is putting on their ability to reach their clients’ target audience? They have to adapt to the change because the broad-based ad strategies used in the past simply won’t work in the ATT environment. 

Why You Can’t Use Broad-Based Audience Testing 

The broad-based audience testing that was widely implemented prior to ATT resulted in creative pairings that are much less effective now than they were before. The reason is that now only a small number of ad pairings between creative and potential audiences can be tested at any given time. Simply put, broad-based targeting has become less reliable than before because Facebook has a weaker signal than it previously did due to reduced tracking. This is why it shouldn’t be relied on exclusively.

As a result, advertisers are seeing an overall decrease in targetable audience sizes and a loss of performance, fewer conversions, and a decrease in revenue. 

Using Ladder’s ACED Funnel

At Ladder, we always do a creative audit. This can help you solidify your target audience, but it also sets you up to create better ads before testing. To do this, we use the ACED funnel for data analysis. 


Ask yourself these questions about your company.

  1. Are we memorable? 
  2. Does each ad have one clear message that will stick in the mind of the viewer? 
  3. How does it link back to the brand?


For this stage, ask yourself:

  1. Is this ad interesting enough? 
  2. Does this ad tell my users what’s in it for them? 
  3. Does it make them stop and think?


This stage may be the most important.

  1. How can we make our product/service a must have?

Direct Response

The final stage is to ask yourself:

  1. Have I made use of cognitive biases? 
  2. What can I offer to get the user over the line?

This includes using offers, like free shipping or discount codes.

How To Use Audience Testing Successfully

The time has come to overhaul the creative production process and focus on smaller, interest-based audience targeting. Advertising strategies will have to change to rely less on audience creation based on user activity. Although interest-based targeting takes time, effort, and is often difficult to get right, it is more valuable now than ever. You can’t just toss everything at the wall anymore and see what sticks. You need to focus on smaller volumes and fine-tune them to be more audience relevant because the broad audiences that you relied on before aren't going to work as well, as much, or as often. 

Get To Know Your Customers Better

This is the time for your marketing team to invest more in things like qualitative research and creative thinking. You have the perfect opportunity to personalize your creative production around interest-based campaigns that can give you new opportunities for performance growth. To be successful, your team will need to think about your user segments and go deeper into the things they're going to be associated with instead of only focusing on the obvious ones. So, what are the non-obvious ones that still create leverage? What are the interests of your users? 

To answer these questions, you’ll have to do your research and get to know your customers better. A deep understanding of the intended audience, along with better insights of ad presentation, will lead to the outcomes you need in order to make a vastly reduced volume of ad creative perform as well as before. Develop insight for finer details. You might find a product that isn’t directly related to a user segment, but that segment might often use that product or the product might be an associated service. This level of targeting is what you’ll need to employ from a strategy point of view. You can then build interesting audience-driven targeting off of it and tailor your creative to a more specific use case. This will translate into a better conversion rate.

As we all navigate through the new ATT environment of enhanced privacy, the advertisers that can evolve in their approach to digital advertising will be best positioned to overcome the new data privacy landscape. Applying interest-based audience targeting will provide advertisers with a better approach to connecting with users, preserving brand equity, and continuing to survive in an ever-changing ad world. 

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