“Should I pay for social media?”
It’s a question we hear a lot. And while there was a time when social media could successfully be done for free, that time is probably over.
Still, if you’ve absolutely no budget, you can still get some traction from social media. But any company that really wants to make progress will find it easier and more effective to spend a little money.
Here’s why the age of free social media is basically over.
1. Facebook’s organic reach is basically zero.
If you’re reading this blog, you almost certainly know that we recently got hit with another major change on Facebook. On January 11th, Mark Zuckerberg announced that the company is “making a major change to how we build Facebook.” He continued:
The first changes you’ll see will be in News Feed, where you can expect to see more from your friends, family and groups.
As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard — it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.
That means (among other things) that Facebook’s already slim organic reach will fall to basically zero. Even if you have thousands of followers, probably only a dozen or so of them will see your posts on a regular basis.
Organic reach has been falling rapidly over the last few years, but as the Wall Street Journal said of this most recent announcement, this change will basically be “the nail in the coffin” of organic reach. Even before this announcement, organic reach for most brands was below 1%.
So if you want people to see your content on Facebook now, you’re basically going to have to pay for it.
2. Facebook’s referral traffic has dropped in the last year.
Facebook is still giving Google an excellent run for its money when it comes to referral traffic. But Facebook also tends to prefer content that keeps people on their site.
And so if you want traffic to your website, and you want that traffic to be from Facebook, you may need to pay for it. Or you’re going to have to work harder and smarter than ever before (so you’ll pay in time and effort rather than money).
3. As other social media sites get more crowded, they too will require some spending if you want to get your content seen.
There’s more to social media than Facebook, of course (though it is the 800-pound gorilla of social media). LinkedIn is important – it’s essential for B2B marketers. And Instagram is developing rapidly and is already a powerhouse. And then there’s Twitter, YouTube, and Pinterest, all of which can work beautifully for specialized audiences.
But as these platforms become more competitive, they will also require some spending if you want to get more of your content seen. And in terms of referral traffic, they’re still dwarfed by Facebook.
Basically, as ad inventory gets tighter and costs rise on Facebook (CPMs were up 171% just last year!), it only makes sense that advertisers will begin testing other platforms.
That’s going to drive up costs. And so even if you can get leads on LinkedIn for $40-60 now, by the end of 2018, you’ll probably be paying more.
4. Social media is complex enough that even if you can’t afford advertising, you should invest in a scheduling and analytics tool.
It is true that almost every social media platform has basic scheduling functionality. And they all offer analytics reports.
But managing these on a platform-by-platform basis is difficult. If your time is worth more than a few dollars per hour to you, it’s smart to spend some budget on a good scheduling and marketing analytics tool (or tools). Social media is just too complex now to be doing it 100% manually.
How to Pay Less for Social Media
So does all that mean that you can’t do social media without spending money? Well, no. But it will be far easier and you’ll get better results if you can afford to spend some money.
The operative word there is “some”. You don’t necessarily need a huge budget. Especially if you do this to keep costs down:
1. Try new things.
Early adopters can do well on social media. Very well. Right now, there’s a major opportunity with Facebook Messenger for marketers who are willing to test. Our Ultimate Guide to Facebook Messenger Ads can show you how to get started with the advertising part. But you can do Messenger marketing without advertising, too.
2. Boost what works.
There are still plenty examples of “viral” campaigns on social media. And even if your posts don’t quite achieve full viral glory, usually there’s a post or two every week or so that just does better than average. Every marketer gets lucky once in a while.
We suggest you boost those posts.
This means you’ll sacrifice some control, of course. But social media isn’t straight-up old-style advertising. We can’t just broadcast any old message (unless you want to blow your budget). But we can “ride the wave” of popular content.
So consider investing what advertising budget you do have in posts that just naturally work. Work with the algorithms, rather than trying to force messages and posts that people just don’t care about.
3. Publish more of what works.
If your budget is small, you may have to invest more time and creativity into your posts than your more affluent competitors do. You’ll pay in time and effort rather than paying in dollars.
As Michelle Morgan, Director of Client Services at Clix Marketing says in our blog post, “Top 2018 Facebook Ads Predictions from the Experts” :
Whether it’s creating a new conversion type for a lead generation company, being more appealing with your ad copy doing a better job of not over-saturating your audience, or creating a retargeting funnel, there are many ways to get more creative with your advertising; and 2018 is the year you’ll have to flex those muscles to get the returns you need.
User-generated content can do particularly well on social media. And now that Facebook’s News Feed will be more tuned to posts from friends and family, user-generated content may do even better.
So step back from pushing content that exclusively serves your brand. Try to stoke some fun and get more responses from your fans. Like the pet retailer Chewy has done here with their doggy yoga post:
4. Think outside the advertising box
Still not sure you can scare up enough budget to employ even those low-budget tactics? Don’t worry – and don’t abandon social. There are important things you can still do (and should do) on social media that don’t require a dime of advertising.
· Customer service.
Consumers expect a response to any complaint or request made on social media. And usually, they expect those responses fast.
Customer service is typically done through Facebook or Twitter. But because these messages are direct, you don’t have to spend any money to communicate with people. And if you can respond to social media customer service messages fast (Check our Nest’s Twitter page for inspiration), you’ll keep existing customers and show prospective customers just how good you are.
· Give prospective employees an idea of what you’d be like to work for.
Hiring isn’t the first thing we think of when we think about social media, but your social media feeds can definitely help with it.
Instagram is particularly good for sharing in-office photos, but Facebook and Twitter are worth trying, too.
5. Use your social media posts to supplement your email newsletters or your blog.
Do you stress about what to put in your email newsletters? Stress no more: Social can save your bacon. Just use some of your social media posts to flesh out the empty spaces in your emails.
Actually, you could see your social media posts as a way to test content for your email newsletter audience. Just repurpose your most popular posts from the last week into your email newsletter.
Voilà: You’ll have plenty of content – and top-performing content, too. And that means more email engagement.
Honestly, you’re going to pay for your social media engagement one way or another. It’s just a question of whether you’ll pay for it in money, or you’ll pay for it in time and effort.
That said, you can still cut your costs, both in terms of money and in terms of time and effort. Just get smart about reusing content, and use what advertising budget you do have to boost what’s already working.
Or start to pay more attention to your social media reports. With a good analytics tool, you’ll be able to see what works for your audience much more clearly. And that means you can serve up content that’s more successful – whether you decide to boost it with advertising or not.
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Can we agree that we’re spending more time on our phones? We can’t get enough of these pocket-sized computers.
The average American spends more than two hours a day on their mobile device, with 50% of their app time in their most-used app, and almost 80% in their top three apps, according to comScore. And of those 140 minutes spent on our phones, 50 minutes are spent across Facebook apps (Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger).
Moving forward, Facebook will play a bigger role in marketer’s mobile strategy. That said, what’s in store for Facebook marketers as we head into 2018?
I predict Facebook marketers will turn to Instagram ads to drive conversions, experiment with Messenger ads to start conversations, and turn to offline conversions to measure business impact.
A Pipeline of Advertisers Headed Straight to Instagram
One reason for Instagram’s rapid adoption among advertisers is the pipeline of 5 million active advertisers on Facebook. As Facebook faces ad load saturation on its main app, marketers have more reasons to experiment with Instagram advertising. Facebook can provide the same targeting capabilities on Instagram, but there’s a growing number of ad types and more available inventory on Instagram for advertisers to drive conversions.
Driving Conversations With Messenger Ads
Figuring out how to stay in front of audiences is always top-of-mind for marketers. With Facebook pouring more resources into monetizing Messenger, I predict marketers will be enticed with more ad types and variations in 2018. And with a push for more adoption of the Messenger platform, expect that payment processes will get easier and more efficient. To learn more about how to get started check out the Ultimate Guide to Messenger Ads.
Measuring the Impact of Facebook Ads
Marketers are under constant pressure to prove the impact of their ad spend. With offline conversion measurement capabilities on Facebook, marketers can track when transactions occur in physical business locations and other offline channels (CRM) after people see or engage with their Facebook ads.
This is extremely valuable for marketers looking to justify their budgets. Facebook is uniquely positioned to provide multi-touch attribution so marketers can accurately understand campaign performance and optimize spend. Look for marketers to adopt Facebook’s offline conversions in 2018.
Facebook Ads Predictions from Industry Experts
We asked four Facebook Ads experts their predictions about what’s to come in 2018.
Key Facebook Trends to Watch for in 2018
- Facebook’s Diminishing Ad Load
- Experimenting with Messenger Ads
- Getting Creative with Ad Creative & Ad Types
- Be Ready to Test New Features
Susan Wenograd, Partner at Five Mill:
“I think there will be at least two developments related to FB targeting in 2018 and one development around rules and regulations.
Facebook started running out of News Feed space last year. This has caused skyrocketing CPMs, and really fierce competition. This is great for Facebook’s bottom line, but I think they also recognize that evolving is now more important than ever. They cannot just shrug and say, ‘Welp, that’s all we got. Good luck, folks!’ They have to test and iterate on new ways to create inventory, but simultaneously have it be quality inventory that will move the needle so advertisers will spend budget on it.
I believed Watch was their first step towards this when they announced it. Video has all kinds of applications and success for ads on the platform, so it makes sense they’d look to evolve this first. They also have the opportunity to learn from what other video platforms like YouTube do well and don’t do well. Indeed, they have announced testing of pre-roll images recently, so look for future inventory openings to come from things outside the News Feed directly.”
“I also think the other major targeting thing that will continue to evolve is targeting based on user behavior. This was a huge leap forward for Facebook in the past year, allowing us to target users based on their in-platform activities like their interactions with Events, Videos, and Posts. I believe this will continue to evolve, giving us options for how to create Audiences based off which Posts/Ads they interacted with, and whether their reactions to posts were positive or negative.
The other thing I’m watching is the rise of chatbots. This is a huge deal for Messenger, but will also require some oversight from Facebook to control what that looks like. Spammy messages and annoying marketing techniques will frustrate users, so I think Facebook will need to figure out the rules and guidelines advertisers need to adhere to about what is messaged and how it’s done.”
“They have to test and iterate new ways to create inventory, but simultaneously have it be quality inventory that will move the needle so advertisers will spend budget on it.”
~ Susan Wenograd
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Akvile DeFazio, President and Facebook Ads Specialist, AKvertise, Inc.:
“In this last year, Facebook continued making a push to get more users and brands on Messenger. As we head into 2018, we will most certainly see the trend forging a deeper path as more people dive in to the app from ads at different stages of the conversion funnel without even having to transfer to a website or wait for customer service responses via preexisting and less instantaneous means.”
“From Sephora making beauty service booking quicker than ever, to O’Reilly Auto Parts providing customer service, Domino’s Pizza featuring order placement and tracking, to Pinterest now allowing users to easily search and share pins, it’ll be interesting to see the many creative ways brands will utilize this highly coveted space to get the closest to their audience since email.
As it stands today, it is still an under-utilized space for advertisers, though not for long, as chatbots level up. Messenger is no longer just for communication, it’s also evolving into a medium for conversions.”
“Messenger is no longer just for communication, it’s also evolving into a medium for conversions.”
~ Akvile DeFazio
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Matt Mason, Senior Client Manager, Point It:
“With Facebook’s focus on Messenger and their acquisition of WhatsApp, they will find a way to be able to purchase directly through their messenger platforms. Imagine being able to serve an ad for a product within Messenger, and someone being able to purchase without having to click out of the app.
Facebook makes a big splash with an acquisition of a well-known brand in order to increase their reach but also solve for their dwindling inventory and ad slowdown. As the market becomes more and more oversaturated, they have to be able to meet the demand.”
“Facebook begins testing some sort of self-service creative studio to help advertisers with videos + statics. They’ve already announced the Creator App for the creative community. It wouldn’t shock me at all if there was some form of light version for advertisers. It would make sense considering the majority of the advertisers are small businesses without a lot of capital.”
Michelle Morgan, Director of Client Services at Clix Marketing:
“Long story short, Facebook is getting more competitive and that’s going to require advertisers to lessen or move away entirely from their previous strategies on the network. I think Facebook will continue to grow in terms of the number of advertisers over the course of 2018. Given the inherent nature of inventory on Facebook (there are only as many impressions available as people willing to scroll through their feed), that means more advertisers for the same amount of impressions. Economics 101, anyone?
Advertisers will need to be willing to do a few things to stay competitive on the platform.
First, be willing to bid competitively. Up until now, it’s been common to hear of highly successful Facebook campaigns for little ad spend. There might still be opportunities for that, but that time is fading. If you want to see returns from Facebook, you’ll need to get competitive with your bids or let go of the bidding reigns altogether and let Facebook’s algorithm do it for you.”
“Second, you’ll need to get more creative with how you engage your target audience. Going from zero to 60 and asking for a sale the first time someone visits your site might work during the holiday season, but it’s going to be harder to do during the remainder of the year. Whether it’s creating a new conversion type for a lead generation company, being more appealing with your ad copy doing a better job of not over-saturating your audience, or creating a retargeting funnel, there are many ways to get more creative with your advertising; and 2018 is the year you’ll have to flex those muscles to get the returns you need.
Lastly, stay on your toes in terms of the Facebook platform itself. Facebook is continually changing its advertising options, as well as its user experience. Keep an eye out for new targeting options, functionality, etc. that could benefit your accounts, and be willing to test new features as they become available. My guess is that early adopters will be the ones to get low-cost, profitable campaign results.”
“If you want to see returns from Facebook, you’ll need to get competitive with your bids or let go of the bidding reigns altogether and let Facebook’s algorithm do it for you.”
~ Michelle Morgan
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Marketing is all about (a) finding your target audience and (b) communicating how your product or service can solve their problem. And Facebook ads are making this easier to accomplish. The question is how are marketers going to react to rising News Feed cost and expanding onto other Facebook properties. And how will Facebook entice marketers to experiment with new networks in a transparent way.
It’s Monday morning. I just sat down with my favorite cup of coffee and opened up my computer. I’m about to dive into my weekly reports, ready to count the pennies I’ve gained over the past week from my Facebook campaigns. I notice that seemingly overnight, our spend and conversion numbers have dropped off. I panic, but it’s cool because at least it isn’t Friday afternoon at 4:30, am I right? As I dig in, I notice the drops in both metrics are primarily coming from one campaign. Not just any campaign. My most trusted, go-to, evergreen campaign.
Has this happened to you? It’s happened to me several times over the course of this year. I’m convinced that if you do enough Facebook advertising, you’ll run into this exact scenario at some point. It happened to me with one of my larger B2B lead generation clients, and it happened fast.
Listen to the latest PPC Show podcast episode for more details from Matt Mason.
When High-Performing Campaigns Go Bad
When comparing Year over Year (YoY) quarterly performance, our main conversion goal was down by 78%. Of course, the only upside is that we were only spending 43% of our budget. However, no matter how you look at it, our performance was down, and CPAs were on the rise.
This didn’t make sense. We were doing all the right things. We had a funnel. We were warming up cold audiences with landing pages specific to their interests. We were creating awareness. We were remarketing with offers that our audiences perceived as valuable. At the end of the journey, we were hitting them with content that differentiated us from their competitors and showed the value we offered. Our audiences were segmented.
We got strategic with our targeting and tailored our messaging and content to those segmented audiences. The performance was off the chart the previous year. Conversions were coming out of our ears.
Then it just stopped.
After banging my head against the wall for days trying to figure out what was going on, I reached out to my Facebook rep. They reminded me of a key characteristic of conversion campaigns: you need consistent, click-based, conversion events. Ideally 50 a week per ad set. I wasn’t getting that anymore, which meant that my campaigns were no longer giving enough data to Facebook’s algorithm. It didn’t have what it needed to predict who would convert, so it pulled back.
But…but…my audience was locked in. I was granular. I knew my audience.
There was just one problem. I wasn’t getting results.
I was at an impasse. Do I continue to dig my heels into this audience that I know converts? Or do I try something new? I really didn’t have any choice. What I was doing wasn’t working.
Facebook touts itself as having the best audience data, and they encourage you to leverage that. But what else does Facebook have? An extremely powerful algorithm that knows who is likely to take the action that you’re looking for. However, in my case, the algorithm had found “all” of the people in my segmented audience that were going to convert.
Campaign Trust Fall with Facebook
I spoke to some friends in the industry. I went through an entire pack of dry erase markers. I looked at the data and where I historically saw the most success. For this specific account, the majority of the conversion actions were coming from our larger lookalike audiences, read: large audience pools. Finally, AdStage’s JD Prater encouraged me to try something new. Again, what’s more important? The audience or the conversion? I know the Audience, but Facebook knows the conversion.
What if we threw the audience out and let Facebook determine who we should target? If you’re like me, the idea of throwing our tried and true strategies for a hail mary probably makes you start to sweat. My mind was screaming what every best practice tells you: Audience. Audience. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE.
The industry who created the best practices weren’t going to have to deal with my client’s failing performance; I was. So, I took a leap of faith, because I really had nothing to lose.
My hypothesis was this:
By focusing on creative and messaging that is relevant and highly targeted for the right market and letting Facebook determine who the audience should be, we’d get better performance.
Convincing a client who’s been targeting highly granular audiences to completely blow up their strategy was going to be a tough sell, so I took a different approach.
I took my tried and true prospecting campaign that had been performing well before but was now experiencing extreme decline, duplicated it, and relaunched it with several 10% Lookalike audiences. This increased number of users in my audience by 10x (a larger pool! Consistent with other high performing campaigns!). I used the same settings and the same copy to isolate which change in the audience was the reason for increased or decreased performance.
When Taking a Leap Pays Off in Performance
In the first month, we drove 111% more conversion actions than we had the month before with the “high performing” audience I had typically used, while CPAs increased 19% month over month. Not bad. Remember, this campaign had dropped off to the point that we were spending around 20% of our allocated budget. Our spend doubled month over month.
Using All the Tools At Your Disposal
The idea is driven by the core belief that when we create our audiences, we’re actually only capturing a fraction of the overall conversions out there. Take a piece of paper and pencil. Draw a big circle. Now draw a couple of small circles inside the larger circle. This is what we’re doing with audiences. There’s still a large portion of the overall circle that is full of people who might not convert.
Facebook is going to find those people because it pulls from many data points that we don’t have access to as marketers, like who is likely to see an ad and take the desired action. That’s why as you collect consistent conversions in your ad sets, things get more efficient. The algorithm improves over time. Eventually, you’ll hit the end of your audience, and all of the low hanging fruit will have been picked off. Next steps dictate that you need to find those prospects who don’t fit the typical targeting profile.
Go-Forward Plan for Social Strategy
Now the fun part begins. I’ve already proven that by opening up audiences, we can get better results. So just recently, I launched my first ad set with no audiences identified other than age. The initial results are promising. I will admit, CPA is higher by 17%, but the key is that we’re getting consistent leads. This strategy, over time, should prove to be more efficient.
What about you? Have you tried this strategy? What are your thoughts and concerns? Hit me up on Twitter with your feedback!
Instagram Ads have come along way since they first started to test ads in user feeds in late 2013. They now have over five different ad types for advertisers to choose from.
One reason for Instagram’s rapid adoption among advertisers is the pipeline of 6 million active advertisers on Facebook. As Facebook’s News Feed faces maximum ad capacity, they’re pushing marketers to experiment with Instagram Ads since there’s more available inventory. And marketers looking for more audience reach are turning to Instagram as they same targeting capabilities as Facebook.
But a question marketers are quick to ask is, how much does it cost to advertise on Instagram? Well, we have an answer.
How Much Do Instagram Ads Cost?
In a brand new report from AdStage, we take an in-depth look at the PPC benchmarks and trends that matter to you and your digital advertising strategy. In Q3, we analyzed over 200 million Instagram ad impressions.
Based on AdStage data, we found in Q3’17 for Instagram ads
- the average CPM on Instagram was $13.92
- the average CPCon Instagram was $1.94
- the average CTRon Instagram was 0.99%
Instagram Ads Key Takeaways
- The average CPM on Instagram ads increased 72% since Q1’17
- The average CPC on Instagram ads decreased 35% since Q1’17
- The average CTR for Instagram ads increased 44% since Q1’17
Be sure to view the Q4 Paid Search and Paid Social ads Benchmark Report for the latest trends.
Instagram’s Supply and Demand
Facebook’s ad impressions are flat while ad spend is moving up. This tells us advertisers are paying more to enter the auction while getting the same number of impressions.
Instagram Ad CPCs Decrease 35%
Based on our data, we saw CPCs increase by 35% over the first nine months of 2017.
The biggest correlation in our CPC data was when Instagram announced new objectives for Stories Ads on May 25th.
When first rolling out ads in Instagram Stories, we began by focusing on the Reach objective to help businesses better target and reach the people they wanted to connect with. But over the past three months these capabilities have greatly expanded, giving businesses the ability to purchase ads in Instagram Stories across additional objectives—Video Views, Traffic (formerly known as Website Clicks), Conversions and Mobile App Install. As a result, stories has become a full-funnel solution for a growing spectrum of business objectives.
With the rapid growth in users, advertisers, and the strong adoption of new ad features like Stories ads, Instagram is poised to make a splash in 2018.
The exclusive Q4 2017 PPC Benchmark Report gives unprecedented paid marketing benchmarks, insights, and trends into what’s happening on the major ad platforms. Just click on the button below to access the full 70+ page report.
Facebook Audience Network (FAN), which reported a $1 billion run rate earlier this year, is a great option for marketers looking to scale their ad campaigns. FAN lets you run ads on third-party websites and apps while taking advantage of all the things that are great about Facebook native in-feed ads: rich targeting data, measurement, and user-friendly interface.
I know you’re probably thinking: my conversions and brand safety would really improve if I could just place more ads alongside third-party content that I can’t control. Well, with a little bit of tinkering in Ads Manager and a trusted list of exclusions, you can increase reach at a lower CPM and perhaps, even drive more down-the-funnel metrics. Read on to learn how to make Facebook Audience Network work for you.
What’s Facebook Audience Network?
Facebook launched its Audience Network back in October 2014. This strategic move allowed Facebook to grow its footprint by boosting the volume of ad spend going to off-Facebook websites and mobile apps. Needless to say, it’s a way for Facebook to address its growing ad load challenges. FAN lets advertisers extend their Facebook campaigns outside of the social network while using the same ad targeting data.
FAN has grown quickly over the past few years. It’s not just websites and apps now; Facebook is aggressively taking aim at the TV advertising market. Facebook video ads are delivered through apps that run via set-top boxes, such as Apple TV and Roku.
Types of Ads in Audience Network
As of October 2017 (and Facebook has been moving especially fast this year), Facebook Audience Network lets advertisers place ads in the following formats:
- Native, Banner and Interstitial
- In-stream videos
- Rewarded videos
Rewarded videos currently support Unity and Cocos2DX game engines. Mobile gamers can choose to watch an ad in exchange for in-app rewards such as coins and power-ups.
Facebook’s SDK is now embedded into nearly every app on the planet. The use of header bidding and a solid inventory that includes Instant Articles makes Facebook a major challenger to traditional programmatic inventory sources and direct ad channels.
Why Advertise on Facebook Audience Network?
Facebook inventory is in high demand. Facebook’s CPMs were up 171% in 2017 and showing no sign of a slowdown, especially with the upcoming holiday season. For advertisers looking to scale spend and reach, the Audience Network could be a good option.
A few ways advertisers can take advantage of FAN:
- Drive e-commerce sales at scale
- Generate more leads by driving customers to register for something after they click
- Boost brand awareness
- Reach new relevant audiences
- Repeat your message by following users off Facebook and on their favorite websites and apps
- Target very niche audiences across web, mobile, and connected devices.
How Facebook Audience Network Works
In a nutshell, the Audience Network is Facebook’s version of Google AdSense. Here’s how it works:
- Publishers with websites or apps can join the Audience Network by submitting their application for review. They agree to allow Facebook to place ads on their websites and apps.
- Advertisers set up campaigns on Facebook. By default, ad placements with FAN-enabled campaign objectives will run on the Audience Network.
- Facebook places ads on its partnering websites and apps. Advertisers compete to get their ads on placements by bidding.
- Facebook makes money on ads and splits it with the publisher of the website or app.
Create Ads for Your Campaign Objectives
If you disable automatic placement, Facebook will recommend using Audience Network for the following campaign objectives:
- Video views (including reach and frequency buying)
- Traffic (for website clicks and app engagement)
- Product catalog sales
- App installs
Whether you’re increasing brand awareness measured by views and clicks or driving sales, you need to write Facebook ads for people in the “browse” mode. Like billboard ads, FAN creatives shouldn’t pack too much information. The simpler the message, the more powerful the effect.
Set Up Your First Facebook Audience Campaign for Success
Whenever you create a campaign using the new Ads Manager, Audience Network is selected by default for any of the FAN-enabled ad objectives.
So, unless you manually opt out of running ads on FAN in Settings, your ad will be running both in native Facebook feed and on the partner network. At the same time, you can’t select Audience Network alone. Ads must run either on Facebook or Instagram to run on FAN.
It’s possible to drive quality traffic for your direct response campaigns on FAN. Be mindful to review your placement report and not waste your ad budget on fake clicks and hurt brand image in the wrong placements. Facebook Blueprint course recommends leaving the Automatic Placements option selected, but you’ll really be better off by commanding more control. So skip the “recommended” trap and head over to Advanced Settings and Block Lists – these settings are not that “advanced” and will take you like five minutes to set up.
Protect the Brand and Improve Results with Blocklists
To set up a block list for Facebook Audience Network, go to Business Settings in your Facebook Ads Manager and find “Block Lists” under People and Assets. Upload your block lists. Apply your block lists to all or selected ad accounts. When you create a new ad set or ad, you can check if the list has been applied in Advanced Settings =>> Exclude Categories =>> Account Block Lists.
At AdStage, we built our FAN blocklist based on Seer Interactive’s blocklist for Google Display Network. You can copy and export in .csv AdStage’s blocklist for Facebook Audience Network by clicking on the link. The volatile political environment has led many programmatic buying platforms to shun many alt-right news websites, and you can certainly add such sources to your FAN blocklist to ensure the best brand representation and safety.
Note: you can add blocklists to your ad account only if you’ve been added as an advertising Admin on that account (if you have advertiser or analyst permissions, you won’t be able to add a blocklist).
You can track your campaign success on Audience Network the same way you would do for in-feed ads via Ads Manager Reporting (or your preferred PPC reporting tool).
Further Resources on Facebook Advertising
- 7 Major Updates for Facebook Advertisers
- When and How to Use Facebook Sequential Advertising
- Quick Guide to Facebook Offline Conversions
- Crash Course on Facebook Organic Reports
- The Facebook Ad Type with the Best ROI
- Facebook Ads Reporting Tool
Have you tried Facebook Audience Network? Any best practices to share? Tell us in comments!
Over the last year, we’ve analyzed over 8.8 billion Facebook ad impressions. We found that during the first six months, the average CPM increased from $4.12 to $11.17, and the average CPC increased from $0.42 to $0.99.
- The average CPM on Facebook ads is $11.17
- The average CPC on Facebook ads is $0.99
- The average CTR for Facebook ads is 1.10% (remaining consistent over the last six months)
Be sure to view the Q4 Facebook Ads Report for the latest trends.
Facebook’s Supply and Demand
Facebook’s ad impressions are flat while ad spend is moving up. This tells us advertisers are paying more to enter the auction while getting the same number of impressions.
Facebook’s CPM Increase 171%
Based on our data, we saw CPMs increase by 171% during the first half of 2017. This shows how competitive the auction is and illustrates why Facebook is having ad load issues.
Facebook’s CPC Increase 136%
The CPCs of Facebook Ads went from $0.42 to $0.99 during the first six months of 2017. That’s a huge jump, especially when thinking about the role of Facebook in the customer journey.
Facebook’s CTR Remain Flat
Advertisers are getting consistent CTRs month-over-month, but it’s costing more to get the same result due to higher CPMs and CTRs.
Why Are Facebook CPMs Increasing
Our ad spend data includes all ads run on Facebook, Instagram, and Audience Network. There are a number of possible explanations for the increase in CPMs and CPCs.
1) Advertisers Are Flocking to Facebook
Facebook reported a total of five million advertisers as of April 2017. That’s up from four million monthly advertisers in September 2016, and three million in March 2016. Put another way — Facebook gained two million advertisers in one year.
Keep in mind that Facebook’s five million advertisers are only 8% of the 65 million businesses active on the network. Therefore, we don’t foresee a slowdown in advertisers’ growth over the next 12 months.
2) Advertiser’s Facebook Budgets Are Growing
Hanapin Marketing conducted a paid social survey asking marketers where they plan to increase and decrease budgets in 2017. They reported that 73% of marketers are investing the majority of their social spend on Facebook and 71% plan on increasing their Facebook ad spend within the next year.
Our Facebook data confirms that advertisers are indeed increasing their Facebook budgets as overall ad spend more than doubled since January 2017 (122% increase).
3) Facebook Is Reaching Max Ad Load
Facebook CFO, David Wehner, said on the Q2 2016 earnings call:
“We anticipate ad load on Facebook will continue to grow modestly over the next 12 months and then will be a less significant factor driving revenue growth after mid-2017.”
The company’s Q2 2017 results showed its reaching max ad load with only a 19% paid ad impression growth compared to Q1’17’s 32% and Q4’16’s 49% growth. However, Facebook’s revenue will continue to increase as surging ad prices, user growth, and Instagram are enough to pick up the slack.
4) Facebook’s Ad Load Slowdown Is Real
Facebook’s Q2 2017 paid ad impression growth slowed to 19% compared to Q1’17’s 32% and Q4’16’s 49%.
Eric Jhonsa of The Street reported:
“Slower ad supply growth is naturally boosting prices. But given that supply is still growing (albeit at a slower rate), it’s also clear that strong ad ROIs — made possible by Facebook’s powerful and steadily improving targeting abilities — are motivating marketers to pay more for ad impressions and clicks. A growing mix of video ad sales might also be helping, given that video ads tend to carry relatively high prices.”
Takeaways and Insights
Based on the data, here are our main insights and takeaways:
- Small and mid-size brands are flocking to advertise on Facebook
- As a result, Facebook’s CPMs & CPCs are rising fast
- Advertiser aren’t afraid to increase budgets even as the auction gets more expensive
- Are results driving the increase in budgets or is it the competitive auction?
- How will advertisers react to increased competition and ad prices?
- Q4 is historically more expensive on Facebook, will they find more inventory or will CPMs skyrocket?
Our mission at AdStage is to connect paid marketers quickly and easily to the data they need to understand holistic campaign performance and take action at scale. Learn more about our Facebook Ads reporting solution, and get our latest Q4 2017 benchmark report!
What a week in ad tech! While Apple was putting on a show in Cupertino, Facebook quietly revamped its Ads Manager, rolled out several updates for advertisers, and even launched a new video chat app. Here’s a recap of all the major announcements:
1. Power Editor and Ads Manager Are Now One.
Starting this week, advertisers will begin to see an updated Ads Manager interface. Here’s what you need to know about this update.
- No features lost.
The updated Ads Manager will look just like its old version, plus all the features from the old Power Editor and Ads Manager.
- Quick or guided: choose your favorite creation flow.
Whether you preferred Power Editor’s quick creation or Ads Manager’s guided creation, you’ll be automatically opted in to the same workflow you used previously. You can change it anytime in the top right of the ad creation window.
- Automated drafts: review and publish.
You’ll still have access to the Power Editor’s Automatic drafts feature. However, you will now manually review and publish all the changes that need to go live. Nothing to worry about: if you leave the updated Ads Manager with unreviewed changes, Facebook will show a reminder.
- All campaign data insights and reporting in a single interface.
The updated tool will allow advertisers to view and report on campaign data within one interface.
2. Lifestyle Templates to Mirror Print Catalogs
On Monday, Facebook announced a new ad format which allows users to shop directly from the Facebook ad. The new ads carry the look of a modern-day print catalog: not as glossy, but with the added benefit of interactivity, mobile reach, and less consumer friction. The new lifestyle format should appeal to the Pinterest demographics (Williams-Sonoma was among the first brands to test these ads in beta).
3. Canvas Ad Format on Instagram
On Tuesday, Instagram announced the integration of Instagram Stories with Facebook Canvas. Canvas ads can now run in Instagram Stories.
What does it mean to advertisers?
- The ability to capture Instagram’s younger demographics with full-screen experience on mobile
- New features allow uploading organic stories as ads in Ads Manager
- Broader reach: you can now run the same Canvas ads across Facebook, Instagram, and Audience Network.
4. New Rules for Branded Content and Instant Articles
On Wednesday, Facebook introduced monetization eligibility standards. Which means Facebook will now be more selective and cautious about Branded Content and Instant Articles. The new guidelines will control who is eligible to earn money on Facebook and what kind of content can be monetized. Starting today, the update will apply to videos and will extend to Instant Articles over time.
5. Third-Party Verification for Facebook Ads
You knew this was coming. Brand safety and ad fraud are major issues for advertisers. How do you make sure ads don’t show up next to questionable content? And who is clicking, a bot or a human? Facebook has been under scrutiny this year: first, fake news, and then inflated ad reach numbers.
To help assuage growing concerns, Facebook partnered with the Media Rating Council, the U.S.-based non-profit industry organization that reviews and accredits audience measurement services. Over the next 18 months, the MRC will work with Facebook in three key areas:
- First-party served ad impression reporting
- Third-party viewability partner integrations
- Facebook’s new two-second video buying option.
To ensure advertisers have better control over brand safety, Facebook will work closely with third parties, such as DoubleVerify and Integral Ad Science.
As Facebook is looking to make more ad money on its original content, these changes will be critical to rebuilding the network’s trust with advertisers.
6. Get Ready for Instant Videos
Facebook is testing a new feature called Facebook Instant Videos. Facebook Instant Videos download and cache Facebook videos to a user’s phone while they’re on WiFi so that they can watch them later on the go without spending their cellular data.
Instant Videos could be a game-changer for advertisers in the developing countries with a slow mobile Internet connection. For places where mobile data is pricey, and the network is weak, the new feature can level the playing field — at the very least when it comes to ads. For example, the average download speed on cellular in Afghanistan is 2.2 Mbps, compared to 4.4 Mbps in South Korea.
7. No More Instant Articles in Messenger
While it’s clear from some of the earlier updates that Facebook will continue to focus on Instant Articles (and videos), this ad format will no longer be available on Messenger — for now. The truth is, as of now, Instant Articles are still not as publisher-friendly as Facebook wants them to be. Publishers report traffic issues; according to TechCrunch, advertisers have also complained about attribution: you can’t easily add UTM parameters to the end of Instant Article URLs. Facebook is collaborating with publishers to give them more control over their content, so maybe we’ll see a comeback.
… and a Bonfire
To top this week’s updates, Facebook also launched a new video chat app called Bonfire. The app mimics all the features of Houseparty, a social network popular among teens. Facebook’s copycat strategy is strong and already caused Snap’s earnings to plunge in the first quarter. Which app is next?
Tune in to hear the experts’ commentary on AdStage’s PPC Podcast this Friday.
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It takes a lot of testing to uncover one really good Facebook ad. Once marketers find it, they scale it, investing more money in just the top-performing ad. Facebook ad fatigue happens when an audience gets served the same ad over-and-over, causing them to ignore it and may even hide it from their feeds. This turns off audiences, hurts ad performance, and increases CPCs.
To solve this problem, you have one solution: rotate in fresh ads. By rotating your ads, you get the best ROI and decrease the chances of triggering banner blindness on your audience. In this article, we’ll show you why Facebook wants you to rotate your ads, how to do it, and five examples to inspire you.
“Ad fatigue happens when an audience gets served the same ad over-and-over, causing them to ignore it. Thus, leading to poor results.”
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Why Facebook Ad Fatigue Matters
People get bombarded with ads. In the U.S. alone, the average person is exposed to 4,000 to 10,000 each day. The high volume of advertising has triggered a psychological effect known as “Banner blindness.” As the name suggests, people have become blind to the advertisement banners they see in the streets, newspapers, and other media. It’s not that consumers hate ads, >they simply ignore them.
According to a 2013 study by Infolinks, 86% of consumers suffer from banner blindness. Another study from the Nielsen group found people almost never look at anything that resembles an advertisement, whether or not it’s actually an ad.
To prevent banner blindness, the Nielsen group recommends making your ads look like a native part of the site. That means you should make your ads look less like an ad and more like a message from a friend. Ironic, but effective.
Banner blindness has become our defense mechanism against information overload. While banner blindness describes users’ tendency to ignore an ad because they have grown used to it, ad fatigue refers to the decline in click-through rate and conversion after banners have been left to run for a certain amount of time. In other words, ad fatigue is a symptom; banner blindness is the cause of the problem.
In Facebook, you can measure ad fatigue with the frequency metric. The more you show your ads to an audience, the higher the frequency. When Facebook shows your ads to your target audience too many times (which means your frequency increases), your click-through rate drops and your cost per click increases.
The good news is, you can fight ad fatigue by automatically rotating in fresh ads.
How to Automatically Rotate Your Facebook Ads
As the name suggests, to rotate ads, you define a piece of your ad, which could include your creative, targeting, or bid, and replace with another piece. For example, you could rotate a headline that says “See Why +10,000 Customers Love Us” with another one that says, “Get A Free Trial of X Today.”
Facebook rotates your ads automatically. Once you create a series of ads within an ad group, Facebook makes them compete against each other for delivery. Facebook displays all the ads in your ad set until they find one that works best. When that happens (usually within the first 1,000 impressions), they will show the projected winning ad more often than the others.
There’s no right or wrong time to start rotating your ads. At the least, try to have two or three ads in the same ad group, in which case Facebook will automatically rotate your ads. Once you hit a winner and start to see a decrease in conversion and an increase in cost-per-click, create a new ad group with the same targeting as the winning one, and add more variations to the winning ad to keep your ad fresh.
With Facebook automatic rotation, you can’t choose which variation to show your audience. That can be frustrating. With the help of AdStage’s Facebook Ad Rotation and Flighting automation, you can display the variation you want in any given time frame. You can rotate one successful ad during the weekends, or you can test different ad variations every week, as well as many other combinations you prefer.
If you are having a hard time finding inspiration to rotate your ads, here’s five examples to get you started.
5 Ways to Rotate Your Facebook Ads Creatives
1) Use Power Words
After decades of testing sales-proof copy, copywriters have found that certain words evoke more emotional responses in the target audience. These are the so-called power words. Adding power words in your copy increases chances of a positive outcome for your ads.
“Free,” “now,” “sensational,” and “instantly” are popular power words to use in ad copy. For more examples, check out this list of 189 power words.
- Take a look at the list mentioned above. Select 5-10 words and use them in your ads.
2) Show a Giveaway
People love getting things for free. That’s the power of giveaways. Neil Patel gives away his framework for teaching marketing to convince people to sign up for his webinars.
He could reverse his ad and focus on the giveaway in the copy or the description, and add the webinar in the title. He could also mention either the webinar or the giveaway in the image of the ad.
- Think about what things you could give away for free to your audience. You can repurpose content and package it as a bonus or resource, and give it away in your ad as an extra.
3) Make an Irresistible Offer
Sumo, the email list building, analytics, and social media tool, offers a 40% discount in their accounts with an annual subscription. The ad retargets users who have already tested Sumo and may need some extra convincing.
Agoda, a Singapore-based hotel booking website, offers discounts and makes it easy to pick a hotel room right from your Facebook feed with the carousel ad.
4) Make It Exclusive
Scarcity is one of the most powerful economic drivers: what’s scarce is valuable.
Foundr promoted their Foundr Club 2.0 by highlighting its exclusivity in their ad copy: “private membership for entrepreneurs.” They also use emojis to draw attention to the ad.
- Make one of your offers scarce. You can show it for a limited period of time, for a specific number of people, or both.
5) Play with the Length
Your ads have just a few seconds to catch the audience’s attention. Better Help’s ad keeps the message simple and highlights just the core value proposition: getting therapist help.
In the second example, MentorBox promotes a video of the founders. The ad copy is longer than usual and includes all the details of their offering — a subscription box for business-related books.
- Play with your ad’s length. If you promote short ads, make them longer, and vice versa.
- Think on the user’s stage of the buyer’s journey. If your customers are in the beginning, they may need more explanation to your ad’s message. If they are closer to the purchase, they may want to use a shorter message focused on the offer itself.
Facebook ad fatigue is a common and important factor to consider when running a Facebook ads campaign. Even though Facebook automatically rotates your ads to increase their relevance, you want to constantly experiment with your ads to find the best performing combination.
Throughout this article, you have seen five ways you can rotate your ads. To get you started, pick a couple and test them in your ads today.
Lead generation campaigns often require multiple touch points before a prospect converts or becomes qualified for sales outreach. Extending your ad’s message across multiple networks is a great tactic to expand your reach, increase conversions, and accelerate sales cycles. However, building a comprehensive cross-network advertising strategy from scratch can seem daunting.
Let’s examine six key elements that can help simplify the process.
1. Define Your Objectives
Before your mind starts wandering towards budget allocation, targeting, and ad choices; start with the foundation – your objectives.
What’s your definition of a lead?
It seems like a no-brainer question, but you might be surprised by the variation of answers from key stakeholders. Sit everyone down and create a universally understood definition.
A request for a demo might hold different weight than a whitepaper download, for example.
What’s the absolute maximum you’re willing to pay for a lead?
Consider the following metrics to help define the highest Cost Per Lead (CPL) threshold management is willing to pay:
- Total lifetime value of a customer
- Average closing percentage of qualified leads from sales
- Historic landing page conversion rates
How long will the ad campaigns run?
Define the advertising flight. Will it be a short initiative or an evergreen campaign? Knowing how long your campaigns will be active can determine your aggressiveness in optimization techniques.
2. Understand Your Target Audience
In short, do the upfront research. Really understand who your target user is, where they frequent, and what their pain points are.
- What are their firmographics? Title, industry, company size, and skillsets.
- Are they a decision maker or an influencer?
- How long is their average purchase cycle?
- What organizational pain points do they current have? Are they actively searching for, or aware of, your product or service?
- Are they within the geography you service?
- What are their core demographics? Age, sex and ethnicity.
- What are their psychographics? Personality, interests and lifestyle.
- What buyer type do they fall under? Are they an impulsive or carefully researched buyer?
- Are they within the geography you service?
3. Allocate Your Budget
The mark of a great PPC advertiser is someone who looks to test everything and quickly iterate on the findings. In the case of testing all the ad networks during initial launch, it can actually hurt your results. Spreading your budgets too thin can lead to high cost per leads, and a lack of consistent data to optimize against.
Pro Tips for Allocating PPC Budgets
- Start with 2-3 key networks. Then, invest a percentage of the returns from these campaigns into new network exploration.
- Include the networks with the highest likelihood to convert.
- Choose the networks with the highest intent to purchase.
- Think about which platforms reach your target audience most effectively.
- Consider overall reach.
- Create aggressive budgets and optimization calendars for short promotions.
- Total campaign budgets settings work well here.
- Run smooth, evenly distributed budgets for evergreen campaigns.
- Daily budgets help keep an even pacing.
- Analyze direct versus assist channels.
- Some networks drive last click attribution, leading from direct ad click, to new lead.
- Other networks may not drive new leads with every click, but they can lift overall conversions through assists.
- Learn more about setting your campaign budgets here.Think about the campaign flight length.
4. Have a Consistent Message
Your target customer no longer visits just one network on one device. It’s common for prospects to hop between networks and devices throughout their day. Having a consistent brand or offering message can lead to increased awareness and likelihood to convert.
Tips for Selecting a Cross-Network Message:
- Ensure the message is aligned with your core objectives.
- Mention your promotion, sales, or new content in ad copy across all media.
- Route ads to a common landing page so you can understand which networks are yielding the best returns.
- Map out the buyer’s journey.
- Search can be direct, to-the-point sales messaging. It’s geared to drive leads at the bottom of the funnel to convert.
- Social requires a softer touch and is a great medium for drip lead nurturing through differing ad messaging at different stages of the buying journey.
5. Leverage Network Strengths
Each network offers a unique set of offerings and configurations. Be sure to take advantage of network specific settings.
Google AdWords & Bing Ads
6. Track Your Results
Finally, ensure that each network’s conversion tracking is provisioned and placed correctly. Add custom URL tracking strings to each of your ads to track performance through web analytics.
For help on setting up proper conversion tracking for your campaigns, you can reference our post, “Tracking Conversions With Google Analytics.”
Be sure to have some sort of PPC reporting software in place as well. They can house your all your PPC campaign data allowing for campaign monitoring, quick reports, and budget pacing. This will save you countless hours previously spent pulling and prepping data in Excel tables.
Follow these tips when creating a cross-network advertising strategy to ensure the best return on ad spend from your campaigns. Examine performance as a collective whole. Then dissect it by network, campaign, and ad level. Optimize towards conversions (leads), conversion rate, and cost-per-conversion (cost per lead), leaving no stone unturned.