Updated: May 6
We all have a love/hate relationship with Facebook's advertising platform. As it evolves, from a business standpoint the platform seems to get more convoluted. From a user standpoint, it seems to be more intrusive. What is a marketer to do when the number one ads platform online has lost its way?
Just because Facebook offers up a new way to advertise doesn't mean you should take them up on it. I'm sure you've seen those video ads that interrupt the user experience. After convenience, the top reason people don't watch TV is related to intrusive commercials. Why Facebook ever thought it would be a good idea to give that same dated experience on a 21st-century platform is beyond me (money isn't everything) so why "do it" just because Facebook "offers it"?
Then you have their suggestions as to how an ad should be run. Who do you think those suggestions benefit? Time-and-time-again we have tried Facebook's ad suggestions against basic common sense in the interest of the business we represent only to find basic common sense winning. Of course, that's because we have an intimate understanding of the platform.
So, with that in mind, here are some tips to get your Facebook Ads on track straight from our cobweb minds and even the desks of Facebook.
1. Choose an objective that drives business value
Facebook offers a wide range of advertising objectives which can help brands reach their business goals. We no longer live in a world where Facebook ads success is only achieved by running 'Page Likes', 'Website Clicks', or 'Engagement' campaigns - in addition to these, Facebook now offers advertising objectives which include 'Awareness', 'Consideration', and 'Conversions'.
These categories each offer different ad units which are geared towards achieving specialized results.
Objectives which generate interest in your product or service.
Brand Awareness - Reach people more likely to recall your ads and increase awareness for your brand
Reach - Show your ad to the maximum number of people in your audience.
Objectives that get people to start thinking about your business, and look for more information about it.
Traffic - Increase the number of visits to your website
Engagement - Get more people to see and engage with your post or Page
App Installs - Send people to an app store where they can download your app
Video Views - Promote videos that show behind-the-scenes footage, product launches or customer stories to raise awareness about your brand
Lead Generation - Collect lead information, such as email addresses, from people interested in your business
Messages - Get more people to have conversations with your business to generate leads, drive transactions, answer questions or offer support.
Objectives which encourage people interested in your business to purchase or use your product or service.
Conversions - Get more people to use your website, Facebook app, or mobile app. To track and measure conversions, use the Facebook pixel or app events
Catalog Sales - Show products from your catalog based on your target audience
Store Traffic - Promote multiple business locations to people who are nearby.
Don’t be overwhelmed. Yes, there are a lot of options, but choosing the right objective which is aligned to your broader strategy, and drives true value for your business, will make all the difference.
2. Using Placement Optimization
We often get asked which Facebook ad placements are the best. To clarify, a Facebook ad placement is anywhere that an ad is eligible to be served—this includes in the Facebook News Feed, Instagram feed, Stories, Audience Network, and even in Messenger.
According to Facebook, the best way to run campaigns is to activate all placements. This enables the Facebook Ad platform to optimize against which placements are achieving your desired objective at the most cost-effective rate. While we mostly agree, we don't recommend turning on Instagram placement. Instead, promote natively on Instagram. The boost feature is currently the best type of ad on Instagram because it also helps bolster your followers.
Facebook calls this 'Placement Optimization'. The logic here is that the more placements you use, the more data the Facebook Ad platform has to learn from. The more it can learn, the better your campaigns can perform.
But even though this is one of Facebook’s own recommended best practices for Facebook Ads, it is important to consider where you, as the advertiser, want your ads to be shown.
For example, ad placements on Audience Network won’t generate engagements. If you care about that metric, you might want to omit Audience Network from your efforts. We recommend going to market utilizing Placement Optimization and nurturing what performs the best.
3. Embrace Campaign Budget Optimization
Facebook's Campaign Budget Optimization process is a way of optimizing how a campaign uses budget across ad sets.
Typically, an advertiser would set budgets at the ad set level, however with Campaign Budget Optimization, Facebook will continuously and automatically find the best opportunities to achieve your designated objective across your ad sets, and prioritize budget to the ad sets that are performing best. This gives you less control as an advertiser but gives the system more control to use your budget efficiently.
The one thing to be cautious of here is that if there are campaigns that you need to get a certain level of attention, you will not want to use Campaign Budget Optimization. You'll want to set the budget at the ad set level to ensure visibility. Otherwise, this is one of those automation tools you can use with confidence.
4. Use mobile-first creative
It's no secret that social media has rapidly become a predominantly mobile-first experience. Keep this in mind when it comes to creating your Facebook ad campaigns.
You'll want to ensure that your ad creative is attractive, engaging and looks great on the small screen. Consider bright visuals for banners, and be sure that your video ads are under 60 seconds.
Focusing on mobile first creative will enable you to activate more users into your marketing funnels, at a more cost-effective rate. Make sure your ads look awesome on mobile.
5. Understand the value of broad vs specific targeting
In conversations with our partners at Facebook, this best practice surprised me personally.
In the past, the goal of Facebook ad targeting was to be as specific as possible. However, due to increased competition and the evolution of the Facebook Ad platform, being super specific in targeting can sometimes lead to more costly results.
When you go with super-specific targeting, you're telling the system that you want to serve ads to a certain amount of people no matter what. The Facebook ad system then goes after those people, and you, as the advertiser, are battling budgets for a presumably small amount of people who are also being targeted by other advertisers.
This can drive costs up, and Facebook doesn’t have much to learn from. When you go a little broader with your targeting, however, Facebook has more touch points to learn from, and will automatically optimize to serve your ad to the people in your target audience who are most likely to take your desired objective action.
While doing this, the system also looks for the best use of budget in an attempt to drive more results for lower cost. We recommend testing this for yourself - specific targeting always seems great, but consider going a little broader when trying to stretch your budget.
Some times Facebook is helpful and their automation can give you the insights you need to realize success. But, don't rely on Facebook's direction solely. Think about your business and what you want to achieve. Set it and forget it doesn't work.