Get in touch with our team
Feature image for 11.01.2023


13 min read

Paid Social 2022 retrospective: Lessons we can take into 2023

This article was updated on: 12.01.2023

2022 has been another huge year in paid social with a multitude of changes and trends taking place across the industry. This blog is a retrospective look at the highlights of the past year, key trends and best practices. We’ve also explored what 2023 might bring.

Revamp of Meta’s ad campaign set-up process

The year kicked off with a revamp of Meta’s ad campaign set-up process, which helped streamline campaign objective options from 11 options to 6: traffic, engagement, leads, app promotion and sales. Meta argues the reason is to;

  • Simplify objectives: Deliver widely applicable marketing goals that are used in the broader marketing industry, making it easier for you to communicate your true goals.
  • Provide Guidance: Refined intent allows Ads Manager to provide more guidance for you through the campaign setup, making it easier for you to achieve your marketing goals.

Our thoughts:

The overall impact of these changes is largely beneficial as it allows for a much more streamlined campaign creation process, whilst also limiting the risk of applying bad practices which may have been more likely prior to these changes. However, there is a trade-off for this new simplicity as we now must accept that there is less flexibility in terms of campaign options being available to you.

The rollout of Meta’s dynamic call-out ads

Early in the year we also saw the rollout of dynamic call-outs which enabled you to showcase key business information in their ads outside of the core primary text including; 

  • Free shipping: This enables you to set parameters around minimum spend to qualify for free shipping as well as the expected time frame for delivery.
  • Payment options: To qualify for this call-out it is necessary for you to accept one of the following;
    • PayPal
    • Amazon Pay
    • Apple Pay
    • Google Pay
    • Klarna
    • Affirm
    • Afterpay
  • Returns policy: Allows you to input whether returns are free as well as the time period returns are accepted within.  

The rollout of these new callout options will ultimately prove to be very useful as it allows you to showcase more information to the end user without taking up creative and ad copy space. This will enable you to use the limited space available for key brand/sales messaging.

Catalogue custom audiences for e-commerce business

In spring, Meta rolled out a handy targeting feature for e-commerce businesses – ‘catalogue custom audiences’. This introduced the ability to target users who have interacted with items from your catalogue in the following ways;

  • People who viewed products from your product set (default)
  • People who added products from your product set to cart
  • People who purchased products from your product set

This is a variation on what had previously been available which was limited to users who had more broadly viewed a product page, added to cart or purchased. The key difference introduced here is that we are now able to isolate actions to items in your Meta catalogue allowing you to be much more precise with what you want to showcase in your ads.

One huge advantage of this update is that it allows you to be much more targeted with your messaging based on a user’s previous interaction with a product. For instance, a business may be more inclined to offer a discount code message to users who had previously added an item to their cart. Another example would be to create specific messaging for users who have previously purchased from a product set that encourages users to ‘buy again’ or ‘try another’. This kind of specificity wasn’t available prior to this update and is a really useful tool in any advertiser’s armoury.

AR shopping for Snapchat

Outside of Meta we also saw innovations in Snapchat. It introduced AR shopping through its ‘Snap’s lenses’ which enables Snapchatters to try on digital versions of real-life products before being able to click through and view the item on the website.

This feature is potentially game-changing for clothing/furniture retailers as it enables users to essentially ‘try before you buy’. This could lead to a stronger conversion rate and fewer returns. The AR lens is also likely to increase the level of time a user interacts with an ad leading to a much more interactive and engaged experience.

High-quality audience targeting with TikTok

Value-based optimisation for web ads on TikTok was released in July. This enables you to set up TikTok campaigns that focus on reaching users with the intent of driving higher revenue. 

According to TikTok, VBO Web helps you find high-quality audiences by targeting those that are more likely to make a purchase and with a higher value per purchase, either by purchasing multiple products or buying products with higher price points. When using VBO, you are given two bidding strategies: ‘Highest value’ which allows for a more aggressive approach to drive as much revenue as possible versus ‘Minimum ROAS’ which sets stricter parameters to ensure campaign spend is profitable.

As a result of this, you’re able to effectively tailor TikTok campaign setups to align with your business objectives. For instance, if your objective is to drive efficiency, you can opt for minimum ROAS, whereas if you’re looking to drive the maximum revenue possible within your budget, you can opt to choose a more aligned strategy within TikTok.  

New trend tools for Pinterest

Pinterest released updates to its trends tool that promised to help you discover emerging trends and measure success. The updates allow you to gain deeper insight into the following;

  • Discover what is trending amongst your engaged users and followers in the last 90 days
  • Deeper demographic insights that allow you to filter by age, topic, time and place
  • Insights into seasonal trends to help you align content and marketing calendars based on when Pinterest users are typically engaged with different topics

WooCommerce & TikTok integration

WooComerce integrated into TikTok ads manager to help bridge the gap between TikTok’s incredible engagement metrics and attributed purchases. This integration has opened up a host of opportunities for you to reach users by unlocking the following features;

  • Sync your product catalogue – Allowing users to showcase products in the collection and dynamic showcase ads
  • Advanced TikTok Pixel – Through automatic updates, it enables you to leverage advanced matching capabilities that help increase the visibility of products in front of shoppers who are more likely to generate a return on ad spend.

As a next step, we’d like to see TikTok increase its level of integration with other third-party platforms. For example, there are currently only two CRM platforms that are compatible with TikTok (LeadsBridge and Zapier), improving its capabilities in this area would unlock opportunities to better utilise first-party data. 

Meta’s ‘Advantage’ automation tools

As of May 2022, advantage tools within Meta’s ads manager platform consist of a variety of options including:

Advantage Lookalikes and Advantage Detailed Targeting (currently known as Lookalike Expansion and Detailed Targeting Expansion) are 2 products that allow you to optimise for conversions and improve performance by expanding audiences.

  • Advantage Lookalike –  Geared up to reach a broader group of users of people than those typically defined in Lookalike Audiences (if Meta deems this audience as more likely to improve performance).
  • Advantage Detailed Targeting – In a similar fashion to the lookalike feature Meta will explore audiences outside those set if it believes it will produce better results. 
  • Advantage+ Placements – Allows Meta to deliver content across all placements available within the platform based on where it believes it will drive the best performance. This is essentially a re-brand of the automatic placement options that were available before.
  • Advantage+ Creative – Provides the option to toggle on/off allowing Meta to make the following creative optimisations including; Media enhancements, adjusting image brightness and contrast, applying artistic filters, varying aspect ratio, adding labels and text combinations.

Now that we have cherry-picked some of 2022’s biggest platform changes, we’ve also reflected on platform performance to see where we can identify any trends;

PlatformReach (Billions)CPCCPM
Source: Statista

Throughout 2022, Meta continued to have the largest reach of active users across its platforms with Facebook having a cheaper CPC than most of its competition. However, this wasn’t replicated on Instagram, with CPM being relatively expensive versus its rivals. Elsewhere, we saw Twitter delivering the cheapest CPC whilst Snapchat delivered a substantially cheaper CPM but both at the expense of a more limited reach. 

Although these patterns aren’t surprising and follow trends that we have seen in previous years, analysing and understanding this information can shape future campaign creation as we can look to align marketing objectives with platforms that are more likely to deliver success. For instance, if you are running brand awareness campaigns, you should consider Snapchat to reach users on a cheaper basis, whilst if you were looking to run cost-effective traffic campaigns, you should consider Twitter.

When considering which platform to use for your next paid social campaign, it’s essential to recognise the differences in ad format performance within each of those channels. 

Winning ad formats for campaigns in 2022

To help you determine what good looks like when it comes to the various ad formats available, we’ve handpicked three of our favourites from 2022:


Spotify – Video

Spotify produced a simple yet effective animation to drive app installations across Meta. Using concise copy and a simple two-tone coloured background, they managed to produce content that was both eye-catching and easy to digest. 

This campaign was clearly aimed at new customers as it highlights features that users can unlock upon installation. A similar approach could be applied to existing customers with a message of ‘no ads’ and a CTA of ‘buy now’.

SunExpress – Snapchat AR Lens

SunExpress delivered an entertaining, creative ad campaign on Snapchat, using its AR Lens feature. The campaign showcased various destinations that the airline flies to by manipulating the AR lens to virtually take Snapchat users to a location. 

This campaign delivered a truly unique experience for Snapchat users, driving awareness of the destinations that SunExpress caters for whilst driving engagement with its interactive nature.

TikTok – Branded hashtag challenge

The ‘Poses with your glasses’ campaign by ‘Clearly’ was created to drive awareness and consideration amongst its Canadian audience. The campaign encouraged users to showcase their favourite looks with their glasses, including #ClearlyTransform.

Whilst the idea alone was noteworthy, ‘Clearly’ was able to extract even better performance from the campaign by partnering with TikTok creators (notably David Suh), using music and giving users the creative freedom to do what they wanted with the challenge. All of these extra elements led to the campaign gaining more traction and more users taking part in the challenge.

Predictions for paid social in 2023

As we enter 2023, one thing that’s certain, the innovations within social platforms are set to continue. Two trends that we are almost certain to see continue in 2023 include;

User Generated Content

This has been an emerging trend over the past few years. UGC or ‘lo-fi’ content tends to outperform polished professional content, especially on platforms such as TikTok and Instagram. App users typically react better to content that looks like it was posted organically and is more relatable. As a result, you should adopt an approach that focuses on authentic, personable and ‘real’ content it’s much more likely to resonate with users who are using the platform to view that type of content in the first place.

You should consider incorporating more UGC into campaigns, especially since it’s often quicker and cheaper to produce than traditional social media content. App users don’t expect UGC to be perfectly polished so smart businesses will look to create ad-hoc content and should look to focus their UGC activity around whatever trends they can relate to on TikTok or Instagram Reels. Consider creating partnerships with influencers who are relevant to your product/service through programmes such as TikTok creator marketplace. This will drastically help boost reach and improve trust amongst your target audience. 

Artificial Intelligence (Machine Learning)

Love it or hate it, it’s undeniable that AI will very likely continue to play a huge role in the way users are targeted across social media platforms. We envisage ad platforms will continue to encourage marketers to give AI learning systems more licence to deliver success, rather than relying on marketers creating detailed audiences. 

There are still however a few key areas for you to have a big impact on your account’s performance;

  • Split testing and data-driven decisions – although now very streamlined, paid social platforms still require manual input for key things such as campaign objectives, audiences, creatives, copy and more. Therefore continuing to trial different variants and comparing results is still a very important tool for understanding what is and what isn’t working. Understanding this data and making decisive decisions is vital for improving account performance, don’t be afraid to let the winners run and cut the losers.
  • Feeding the machine – machine learning via paid social platforms is becoming ever more self-sufficient, however, marketers in general can assist by ‘feeding’ the machine useful information to improve performance. One key area to utilise is first-party data, selecting those high-intent/existing customers to create lookalike audiences. This is especially useful for products/services that have a limited amount of preset interest/behaviour-based targeting options.

Whilst we can’t be 100% sure of what is around the corner, one step that you can take to prepare for this year is considering how to best utilise content within your accounts;

As mentioned earlier, campaign creation and targeting are becoming ever more reliant on in-platform learnings, therefore it’s now even more important for you to differentiate and test with options that are still flexible within paid social platforms. Creatives and copy are the two clearest examples of this, regular testing and updates will help drive performance within paid social accounts, subsequently, a key part of driving success this year will be to ensure that there are sufficient creative and copy variations lined up for upcoming campaigns. 

Here at Impression, we pride ourselves on staying ahead of the game and will be looking to utilise any new features/trends that pop up this year. We are super excited to deliver these fresh techniques and deliver success for our clients in 2023. For monthly updates on everything that goes on in the world of paid social, be sure to check out our industry updates series.