The concept of sequential advertising first started buzzing in 2013 but failed to gain momentum. That could be changing as platforms finally begin to build ways for marketers to more effectively deliver the right message, to the right person, at the right time.
What Is Sequential Advertising
But first, let’s take a small step back and look at what sequential advertising is. Essentially, it’s a way to show your targeted audience a group of ads by step, with the goal of one day following consumers’ eyes as they jump between devices. It’s different (and more advanced) than rotating ads in that it uses technology to determine which ads someone has already seen and automatically serves up the next one in the series.
So instead of running the risk of someone seeing the 4th ad in your campaign multiple times (hello, ad fatigue), sequential advertising guarantees a person will see Ad 1, then Ad 2, then Ad 3, and so on, even if they’re switching between many devices.
It’s a complicated process, which is why advertising platforms have been slow to implement it. But progress is being made, like Snapchat now allowing marketers to run sequential video ads in its Discover hub. And consumers like what they see.
Facebook, Refinery29, and Adaptly held a study that found campaigns that tell a brand story before presenting a CTA were more effective than ads that only focused on a CTA. In fact, according to the study, view-through rates for sequenced ads were 87 percent higher than standard ads.
Now we’ll go over when’s the best time to use sequential messaging, how to get a campaign going on Facebook, and how to tailor your ads to this new medium.
When To Use Facebook Sequential Advertising on Facebook
The best time to start testing a new ad unit is before the rest of the digital marketers catch on, right? But seriously, sequential advertising is proving itself to be a means to forge deeper relationships with customers thanks to the storytelling structure it provides. Even if you’re just running some light tests, early adoption could give you a huge leg up.
Sequential also works exceedingly well for less well-known brands who need to build awareness before serving a CTA, and companies that are selling a complicated product or service that’s difficult to sum up in one ad. Instead of having to jam everything into one ad for fear it may be your only chance to catch someone’s attention, sequential ensures your messaging is guiding consumers down a natural funnel.
Advertising often is too focused on acquisition and ignores lead nurturing. Sequencing helps here by providing a way to better pair blog posts and email campaigns with advertising to offer more helpful, relevant ad messaging based on where a prospect is within the buying cycle.
One example is taking low friction content such as a blog post, which often doesn’t introduce your product or service, and moving on to items like a gated whitepaper, case study, then a webinar or demo.
How To Get Started Using Facebook Sequential Advertising
Facebook is slowly rolling out access to sequential within reach and frequency campaigns, but there’s no word on when it might be more widely available. To check if you have access to sequencing, see Facebook’s step-by-step instructions and note “sequencing isn’t available until after you’ve reserved and uploaded your reach and frequency ad set.”
Because Facebook and Instagram share data, sequencing is available on both platforms, and your ads will show up on both, but you cannot control which ads are delivered to which platform.
If you don’t yet have access to sequencing directly through Facebook, AdStage recently introduced a new Flighting Feature that gives all customers access to sequencing! It includes funnel-based storytelling and prime-and-remind storytelling, discussed in more detail below, as well as progressive promotions, which allows you to run a promotion with different percentages off per week. For example, 10% off the first week, 20% the second week, and so on.
Facebook digs in deeper on funnel-based and prime-and-remind storytelling in this great overview and data booklet on tests they conducted for sequential:
Funnel-based storytelling = messages guide consumers down the purchase funnel.
Priming-and-reminding storytelling = multiple ad formats “prime” people with the brand’s story via video ads and “remind” people of the info in the video with display ads:
In the funnel-based test, Facebook used Refinery29’s conversion rates for email sign-ups. One set of ads used direct-response messages, while the other set used sequential storytelling. There was a 49% greater conversion rate using a funnel-based marketing approach. And for the priming-and-reminding test, Facebook looked at a nonprofit advertiser that used a video ad with a display ad to return a 5.97% better rate of donations. Approaches and ad combos will work differently for every brand, so test small and tweak.
Tips to Tailor Ads to Sequential
Sequential offers many more options for creative than standard ads. Because it effectively guides consumers along the funnel, test different ad formats at each point – brand awareness, consideration, conversion.
Video can help deliver more info upfront, and carousels can showcase multiple products before you serve up a simple CTA. Also, test the pacing of your ads. You don’t want to move too quickly for larger purchasing decisions, or too slowly for low price points that don’t need much consideration. Always print and lay out your creative to ensure it tells a cohesive story.
For years, marketers have talked about the possibilities and implications of sequential advertising but had no way to execute. If advertising platforms continue with the progress they’ve already made, 2017 could be the year we finally have a way to form deeper and richer relationships with customers.
Breanna is a freelance senior copywriter with a decade of storytelling and marketing experience. When she’s not nerding out on words, she’s exploring the Rocky Mountains with her husband and pup.
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