Facebook's new premium ads have been creating 5 to 10 times more click-throughs and a 3X ROI lift when compared to previous units after more than two months of testing. Mike Hoefflinger, Facebook's customer marketing director, disclosed the metrics while announcing his company's premium ads upgrade - among other items - at the Facebook Marketing Conference (fMC) this week.
"We are evolving from advertising to stories," Hoefflinger said. "Ads are good, but stories are better."
The ads, bigger now, will start as a page post and then later appear as an ad unit on the right side of the user's home page. From there, they will show up in users' news feeds if they have liked the brand, as well as in the news feeds of their Facebook friends. Lastly, the same ads will be served to users who are logging out.
And mobile advertising has finally come to the eight-year-old digital giant, as a premium ad buy also renders in mobile users' new feeds if they or their friends have liked a brand.
"We are not selling mobile separately," Carolyn Everson, Facebook's VP of global market solutions, explained during a press Q&A at the event, which was held at the American Museum of Natural History. "We are selling them as part of the premium package."
The new premium ads build on Sponsored Stories, the company's first social context ads iteration that launched one year ago. For at least the time being, there are no significant pricing changes to the premium ads, says Facebook.
And Facebook, only weeks from its IPO, debuted a brand-new monetization product called "Reach Generator." Premium ad buyers can now pay the digital giant for guaranteed news feed distribution to up to 75 percent of its fans. Facebook's Hoefflinger said that test partner Ben & Jerry’s was able to reach 98 percent of its Page's fans using Reach Generator. He said that number represented a huge increase over the 16 percent of fans that Pages reach without ads or Sponsored Stories.
Menlo Park, CA-based Facebook also unveiled the newest version of its daily deals platform. The program is called Offers (yes, like Google Offers), which have been in test mode during the last two months. When a deal is claimed by a Facebook user, his or her friends will see an ad in their news feed. The action will also post to a user's Timeline.
Real Time Facebook Page Insights
Facebook has an answer for marketers lamenting long lags in post engagement metrics. The digital giant said at fMC this week that its Page Insights will soon includes real-time data. The latest Page Insights iteration will be available to all businesses in the next few weeks, the company said.
Give Facebook credit for being attentive to product problems. Misi McClelland, metrics and media director at Ignite Social Media, spoke with ClickZ about Facebook Insights data being four days behind, or "like a month in marketing time," she added. That four-day lag was reflected on WhyIsFacebookInsightsNotWorking.com, a site built by Facebook analytics firm Page Lever. The goal of the site has been to "give everyone a simple site to see how far behind you should be," states the site.
Menlo Park, CA-based Facebook said the upgraded Insights are designed to let marketers promote the most engaging posts by pinning them in a new Pages feature. The company says the upgraded version should help brands attend to posted content that is performing poorly as well.
Will Timelines Create More or Less User Engagement?
Facebook also unveiled the new Timeline-styled Facebook Pages for brands, businesses, and organizations this week. The pages allow brands to tell their stories going back to their founders – as long as it's not before the year 1800.
For instance, Coke's Timeline begins in 1886. The new brand pages look and function like the user Timelines that have been rolling out for weeks.
Facebook hasn't tested whether engagement rates - primarily the number of comments and "likes" a brand post receives - will be affected by the new design.
People visiting brand Timelines will quickly notice that photography and videos are a much bigger part of the user experience than before. Gone is the message board-like quality that former Page iterations have entailed.
So will Facebook users keep commenting and liking brand posts? Or will they now become more distracted by the rich media? When asked about that concern, Monica Peterson, Lexus digital manager, sounded confident that Facebook fans will engage with brands on the new Timelines.
"Although the layout may look different, we are still dedicated to responding to fan inquiries and comments quickly and efficiently," Peterson said. "We know our fans will adapt and embrace the new features and we're looking forward to utilizing the new platform to connect with new and future fans more than ever."