Do Facebook CPC Ads Really Work? Well, Sometimes

It has been three years since Facebook launched their CPC model. There have been some solid product changes since then. And advertisers big and small are scrambling to find the right ad mix.

While all verticals differ, the following approach has proven to work well for many retailers.

Keep the Test Simple

A shoe retailer (our example for this article) needs to drive additional sales on their "Design Your Own" product line. Like most retailers, their pre-holiday slowdown hit in September after back to school.

Facebook had already played a role in past promotion at a national level. However, campaign performance rarely broke even.

The goal for the new campaign is to drive new customer volume at a break-even return metric for our shoe-tailer.

Keep the Groups Specific

The ability to create contextually relevant ads has been present since the beginning. With some internal refining, direct response type metrics are obtainable.

That being said, the goal for the program hinges on new customer growth with an ROI tag attached. We need to find a way to behaviorally target consumers that we foresee as having an affinity to our shoe retailer, not just contextually targeting their brand name.

So we pick a market segment we'll call "The Rabid Fan" -- a group which may prone to buy given the right situation (e.g., a winning season, game night, or school pride):

  • Four large college segments (e.g., University of Texas) with a football presence.

  • Gender targeting.

  • Age split by gender (14-17, 18-21, 22+).

  • Top product type (i.e., low top vs. high top).

  • Top product + collegiate color scheme by gender and age (e.g., burnt orange for University of Texas)

Testing Guidelines & Recommendations

Ad creation and targeting is incredibly tedious within the Facebook advertiser center. Integrating services with an API-ready management platform allows for the creation of robust ad depth and targeting in one-third of the time. It also consolidates conversion, traffic, and ad detail under a single user interface:

  • 7 day on/off period by product and by target.

  • 30 day evergreen "product Promotion" allows for brand consistency even after purchase.

  • 30 day click-to-conversion window*

*This may seem high for some retailers, but considering a "Saturday win" may be the true call-to-action, it's important to gather longer latency information.

Keep the Performance in Mind

Directly, this campaign worked and is still working today. There have been creative and targeting tweaks, but the simple plan continues to drive new business:

  • 3 percent growth in incremental sales.

  • Performance drops after day three for product sprints.

  • 15 percent increase in sales volume related week-over-week (see chart below).

  • 60 percent of sales attributed to "Design Your Own."

  • ROI goals exceeded by more than 5 percent.

The key is brand exclusive, individualistic, and behaviorally qualified product. As Facebook e-commerce platforms, applications, and storefronts continue become more relevant within Facebook, it should also become more applicable for consumers.

Consumers may not want to leave the Facebook commerce experience, which is the path for many today (including this shoe retailer). Keep them educated and keep them close to the original point of purchase.

About the author

Price Glomski is Director of Account Services & Integration for Range Online Media. He specializes in creatively integrating online and offline campaigns with new media approaches. Glomski draws upon years of retail marketing strategy and management, having worked with key brands such as Cole Haan, Johnston & Murphy, Converse, Journeys and Gap, for whom he's executed attribution modeling, IQM development and cross platform management. He has managed performance initiatives, which include paid search, media buying and natural search optimization for Wyndham Hotels & Resorts. Glomski has also provided strategic direction for Accor North America through paid search and SEO, performance branding, site and click path optimization and behavioral tactics. For Motel 6, he's implemented media ideas that have driven brand interaction and increased loyalty for the brand. He provides direct online marketing strategy and support to the growing luxury aggregator Perfect Escapes. Additionally, he has experience in the financial services & education categories.

Glomski sits on the Interactive Advertising Bureau's Mobile Committee and is a contributor to Hotel Executive Magazine. He has also spoken at, Search Engine Insider and eTail.