DTC Companies Testing Old Marketing Techniques After Apple’s Privacy Update

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  • Apple’s privacy changes have made it harder for direct-to-consumer businesses to attract new customers to platforms like Facebook.
  • Some D2C brands are redirecting their Facebook budgets to old-fashioned methods like direct mail.
  • Pebblepost, a direct mail platform, said D2C investment in its product has grown an average of 72% this year.

As Apple’s privacy changes, tech giants and advertisers are shaken, some direct-to-consumer startups are turning to old-fashioned – and offline – marketing tactics to mitigate the impact.

Outerknown, a 6-year-old surfwear company, was adept at using Facebook ads to target potential customers.

But after Apple rolled out changes to the iPhone in April – requiring apps to display a pop-up window to users to track them for advertising purposes – its performance Facebook campaigns decreases.

Facebook said this fall that Apple’s privacy changes brought it to underestimate the effectiveness of some advertisers’ campaigns. Facebook also cited Apple’s tracking update as one of the reasons its ad revenue declined slightly in the third quarter. Many companies said the changes made it more expensive to acquire new customers using Facebook ads.

Outerknown’s chief marketing officer, Max Lishansky, told Insider the company now plans to shift at least 25% of its marketing budget to physical direct mail.

Apple did not respond to a request for comment. A Facebook spokesperson, now Meta, told Insider of recent blog posts and comments made during the company’s earnings call.

Outerknown is not an outlier. Men’s clothier Buck Mason has increased its catalog circulation this year by 30% from 2020 and 2019. Luxury bedding brand Boll and Branch and men’s fitness clothing company Ten Thousand have increased their use of the direct mail this year, following Apple’s privacy update.

Ten thousand catalog

The last mailing in the Ten Thousand catalog

Ten thousand


“We are actively researching and testing new platforms. And what is old is new again. Printing is certainly not dead, ”said Jason Nickel, vice president of marketing at Ten Thousand.

Pebblepost, a “programmatic direct mail” company that allows marketers to marry online data with mailings, said investment in its D2C brand platform – about half of its customer base – has increased about 72% on average year over year. The average campaign size has also doubled from last year, said Jacob Ross, CEO of Pebblepost.

Advertising experts have said direct mail is inherently traceable – it’s easy to trace if someone who received a catalog purchased an item. Additionally, physical senders tend to sit on the dining room table or on the refrigerator door for a relatively long period of time.

Mailing from Buck Mason

A recent mailout from Buck Mason to announce a new store in Nashville.

Buck mason


Direct mail is not without its challenges. The shortage of the supply chain made it difficult to plan campaigns around products that might be out of stock – and raised the price of paper in some cases. And marketers are increasingly taking into account the environmental impact of their advertising campaigns.

For Rockerbox, a marketing attribution platform that works with around 150 D2C brands, Facebook still accounts for the lion’s share of its customers’ ad spend. But Facebook’s share of those budgets has shrunk over the past two quarters, as customers shift to areas like direct mail, live TV, video, and affiliate marketing.

Other D2C brands are reallocating spending to retailers and markets such as Amazon that offer first party and consumer data at the point of purchase, said Steve Ricketts, partner and ecommerce manager at media agency WPP. MediaCom. Social media companies, including Facebook, TikTok, and Snapchat, have also created


social commerce

offers to facilitate consumer purchases on their platforms.

Running brand Tracksmith, a Rockerbox customer, recently aired its first prime-time TV commercials

For its part, Facebook said it was building more privacy-focused methods to target and measure ads, saying in its recent call for results, it aims to fix more than half of its underreporting of iOS web conversions by the end of the year.

And many advertisers held on – Facebook still reported a 33% year-over-year increase in ad revenue in the third quarter.

“Many D2C brands rely very heavily on Facebook ads for prospecting and growth, so they are reluctant to make significant strategy changes without a solid understanding of the impact,” said Madan Bharadwaj, CTO and co-founder of the company of measurement of Measured ads. “The sales figures suggest that the campaign’s performance is not as gloomy as Facebook is reporting.”

Still, experts said Apple’s privacy update prompted Facebook-dependent D2C brands to diversify their media mix in the long run.

“Gone are the days when you could get started on Facebook and jump to six-figure ad spend very quickly – it’s not impossible, but much more difficult,” said Will Ashton, CEO of the marketing agency. social e-commerce Nest.


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