Facebook’s ad revenue has grown steadily since the social giant first launched paid ads five years ago. Marketers in the space have 15 unique targeting criteria, some with sub-criteria and additional options, plus the opportunity (and responsibility) to keep ads fresh and engaging with creative graphics and copy. How can marketers best cut the learning curve and take advantage of the growing opportunities in Facebook paid ads?
Social Fresh’s new 2012 Facebook Ad Report combines helpful insights from their survey of experienced marketers, with analysis and tips from industry experts. Analysts from Webtrends, Likeable Media, BlitzLocal, UNIFIED and Buddy Media offer tips to help agencies and in-house marketers increase their return on investment (ROI) in Facebook ads.
1. Take Advantage of Targeting by Gender
Social Fresh found that just 34 percent of respondents target by gender “always” or “often,” making it the ninth most used criteria overall. This may be a missed opportunity, said Michael Lazerow, CEO of Buddy Media, who advised, “We see big differences in performance based on gender, so not segmenting by this variable and controlling your budget accordingly is definitely sub-optimal.”
2. Enjoy Higher CTR with Sponsored Stories
Content-focused and dissimilar in appearance from traditional ads, Sponsored Stories enjoy a higher click-through rate (CTR) and user engagement. Their format also allows marketers to scale back on the amount of creative they need to produce to keep ads fresh. However, 55 percent of survey respondents aren’t using them.
Likeable Media CEO Dave Kerpen recommends giving this ad format a try.
“The real power of Facebook advertising lies in the ability to tap into the word of mouth marketing potential that your fans have with their own friends,” he said. “Sponsored Stories is your best option for driving word of mouth. It is being underutilized.”
3. Refresh Facebook Ad Creative 2-3 Times Per Week
Thirty-seven percent of respondents refresh their ad creative once every 5-14 days, while another 20 percent only change it up as often as every 15-29 days. Overall, two-thirds of marketers ran their ads more than three days. This simply isn’t enough to keep ads from becoming stale, said Justin Kistner, Director of Social Products at Webtrends.
Their data shows that the average Facebook ad has a peak CTR in the first 72 hours after going live. Advertisers pay a higher CPC as click-throughs decline, making this a costly mistake. Kistner’s advice: “Social has a voracious appetite for creative, and ads need to be refreshed 2-3 times per week - another good reason to partner with agencies, who can keep up with the flow.”
4. Give Ad Management Software a Try for Scaling Campaigns
Utilizing ad management software, offered by many Facebook ad API partners, can help marketers manage campaigns at scale. Yet 85 percent of survey respondents aren’t using any type of ad management software, said Social Fresh.
Dave Donohue, VP of Facebook Ads API Partner UNIFIED, said, “As powerful as Facebook advertising is, there are times when advertisers will need help with strategy, creativity, execution of very complex campaigns, and most importantly – the ability to track the ROI on your FB ad investment.” He recommends, “At those times, it may make sense to engage a Facebook Ads API partner.”
5. Use Third-Party Analytics to Measure What Happens After the Click
ROI and analytics were the biggest Facebook ad challenges identified by survey respondents, together representing 68 percent of the marketers’ greatest concerns. Yet almost two-thirds of marketers aren’t using third-party analytics, says Social Fresh.
“If 62 percent are not using third party analytics on their Facebook ads, it's no wonder we have so much discussion in the marketplace about not seeing a good return on ad spend,” commented Kistner from Webtrends. “No mature digital advertiser in search or display would spend without having analytics to track what happens after a visitor clicks on an ad, which is what third party analytics are designed to measure.”
6. Try CPM Pricing Option for Smaller Audiences
Facebook has two ad pricing options, CPC (cost-per-click) and CPM (cost-per-thousand-views). An overwhelming majority of survey respondents prefer CPC, where they see an average rate of $0.80 per click.
However, BlitzLocal CEO Dennis Yu advises marketers with smaller audiences to give the CPM model a try. “CPM is useful in audiences under 1,000 – where Facebook's ad algorithm has trouble matching inventory,” Yu said.
7. Point Ads to a Page or App on Facebook.com for Lower CPC, Higher ROI
Seventy percent of survey respondents are more likely to point ad traffic to a Facebook ad than to point users off-site to another web location. Taking users off Facebook warrants a CPC an average of 50 percent higher, compared to ads that keep users within the social site’s ecosystem.
Social Fresh shares in their report, “Facebook has also said that when ads point to Facebook.com, they see a 50 percent improvement on ROI. Facebook vendors like Pagemodo and Webtrends have confirmed similar numbers through their client performance.”
Download the full 2012 Facebook Ad Report from Social Fresh for more analysis and tips from their survey of 347 experienced marketers. Respondents were, on average, 34 years old, with over 8 years marketing experience. They had been managing Facebook ads for an average of two years, with 42 percent working in-house for brands and 58 percent coming from agencies or vendors.