5 Social Media Stats on Demographic Targeting in 2018

Posted by in Social
5 Social Media Stats on Demographic Targeting in 2018

Forrester contends that social media advertising budgets will grow to $40 billion by 2021. Which channels will drive the most growth? As consumers switch between screens and apps more often than ever, we’ll see a battle for the scarcest marketing resource — the audience’s attention. To build an effective cross-network advertising strategy, marketers need to understand the dynamics of social media use across different channels. We looked at the recent Pew Research study on the social media use in 2018  to uncover the key demographic trends.

Pew’s findings feature data for the five major networks: YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram, plus the Facebook-owned messenger WhatsApp. The five stats below show that most users are scattered across 3+ social platforms, but some networks are better than others for targeting particular audience segments.

1. 41% of women are on Pinterest

Pinterest might be the best social media platform for retail marketers to reach female audiences. 41% of the surveyed women say they use the site — compared with 16% of men.

With Pinterest’s Shopping Ads program now out of beta, more advertisers can now scale e-commerce campaigns on the platform. Pinterest automatically pulls products from the catalog and leverages its visual search technology to help people find the items they need. Preliminary data shows that such ads are effective: Pinterest reported a 25% lift in cost per order for IKEA Canada and a whopping 76% higher return on ad spend for Lowe’s.

2. Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter own the mindshare of 18-to 24-year-olds

Younger audiences favor more visual content platforms, such as Snapchat and Instagram. Both platforms allow marketers to tap into the targeted following of influencers — or micro-influencers — through branded content.

Although advertisers are a little slow to adopt Snapchat, larger brands find it particularly effective to combine mobile campaigns with offline. For example, at a Coachella music festival, a single Snapchat story was able to reach 40 million people.

snapchat and instagram stats

According to the report,  78% of 18- to 24-year-olds use Snapchat, 71% use Instagram, and 45% use Twitter.

3. The typical American uses three of the eight major platforms

Just one network is no longer enough for organic and paid marketing. According to the report, Americans are active and engaged on multiple platforms.

Retargeting is perhaps the best way for paid marketers to leverage such multi-platform engagement. Facebook and Instagram are obvious choices, but adding other social platforms can boost impact. For example, Pinterest remarketing features also allow marketers to target their customer lists — as well as lookalike audiences. Since last year, Quora also offers retargeting functionality using the Quora Conversion Pixel.

4. 49% of Hispanics use WhatsApp

Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp is very popular in Latin America. It’s also the number one messenger for Hispanics in the U.S. (49% compared to 14% for whites and 21% for blacks).

While WhatsApp doesn’t allow you to put ads into the app (and has always said it has no plans in doing so), Facebook lets advertisers create a link between the two platforms. Businesses can include a CTA button in their Facebook ads so that people can call or message right when they click on the ad.

whatsapp advertising

5. Facebook remains the primary platform for most Americans

According to the recent AdExchanger article, advertisers haven’t changed their spending patterns after the Cambridge Analytica scandal. “As long as ads continue to perform on Facebook, the scandals won’t lead advertisers to pull back their spend,” an analyst interviewed for the article said.

Will Facebook remain the key social media advertising channel after the scandal? Most likely, yes — if users stay. Pew’s findings to that end are open to interpretation. While most social media users surveyed in the Pew Research say it would not be hard to give up social media (59%), the share of social media users who say “it would be hard” has grown in recent years, according to the report. Also, the percentage of those who say “it would be hard to give up” is higher among young people. 51% of people ages 18 to 24 say that giving up social media would be “very or somewhat hard.”

social media attitudes

The stats above are for all social media, not just Facebook. But — considering that Facebook as a platform is incredibly sticky (so much that 74% of Facebook users visit the site daily), the chances of people leaving the platform en masse are pretty low.

So, considering the audience size (about two-thirds of U.S. adults (68%) are Facebook users), granular targeting, and low chances of the critical mass deleting the app, Facebook will likely remain the key channel for social media advertising.

youtube and facebook demographis


Broad demographic data is just a starting point

For advertising to be effective, it has to be relevant — and broad demographic data is just a starting point. These stats provide a simplified framework for where different demographics spend time on social media in 2018.

As you plan your targeting strategy, remember that a narrow focus can lead to greater results — especially if your goal is direct response. With tools like Facebook Analytics and your website analytics with advanced LinkedIn event tracking, you can refine your targeting beyond demographics.


Ignoring the Funnel: The Unlikely Facebook Ads Strategies That Work

Ignoring the Funnel: The Unlikely Facebook Ads Strategies That Work

When it comes to Facebook Ads, there are a lot of tried-and-true practices that work for obvious reasons a vast majority of the time. But then there are those exciting welcoming challenges when you follow all the usual logic for a certain campaign type and it just. won’t. work.

Sound familiar? If not, the universe has been good to you, but don’t get too comfortable because there’s probably a failing campaign with your name on it lurking somewhere in the future.

The good news is, those initially frustrating situations can turn into experiments that produce valuable insight into alternatives for your go-to Facebook Ads strategy. Here’s a recent example of how I took a failing campaign, tried something new, and ended up with great results as well as an option to test in similar scenarios going forward [panic, hair pulling, and expletives omitted].

What Usually Works

When setting up Facebook campaigns, it’s generally agreed that you should tailor your strategy to where your audience is at in the funnel, especially with cold audiences because — let’s be honest — nobody likes it when you come on too strong. So we often play it safe, send them to a landing page, and decide to be more forward another time.

That’s all well and good, but what if you end up with a campaign that, despite following all the best practices, is just floundering even though others like it are doing just fine? That’s exactly what happened when I started working with a client that had a particular campaign that was doing far worse than all the others.

So… Now What?

The client’s goal with Facebook Ads was to increase awareness and drive website traffic to learn more, then ultimately convert website visitors through an on-page lead generation form to “Get A Free Estimate.”  Most of the cold audience campaigns optimizing for link clicks were converting well with healthy engagement and higher CTR’s, so we figured, why not just see what happens if instead, we switch the failing campaign to optimize for conversions?


Turns out, there are some instances when going against the common optimization method for a colder audience can help your campaigns succeed.

Tell Me More

By changing the optimization from link clicks to conversions, we saw huge results in just 10 days. The chart below shows how the campaign was performing in the first 10 days of the month prior to making the switch, with our test window from Jan 11-20 below for comparison.

facebook campaign analytics spreadsheet

We managed to increase the client’s lead volume by 1800%, while lowering cost per lead (CPL) by 94% and increasing the campaign’s conversion rate (CVR) by a whopping 2662% — in a matter of days.

Because we started optimizing for conversions instead of clicks, we saw an anticipated CTR decrease of 23%. However, the lift in lead volume and CVR more than made up for it, along with the drastic decrease in CPL from $366 to $20. All of that, plus no drastic effects on impressions or spend.

Why such a dramatic change? When optimizing for traffic, Facebook shows your ads to the people in your target audience that are most likely to click the link to your landing page at the lowest cost, whereas a conversion setup delivers ads to people in your target audience that will drive the most website conversions. Sure, it makes perfect sense. However, it can prove beneficial to skip ahead to conversions when testing top of the funnel audiences.

What Does That Mean for Me?

Given how quickly we saw a performance increase as a result of this test, we’ve started implementing this alternative optimization tactic to cold audiences in other campaigns and are seeing improvement there as well. While CTR and engagement have also decreased in those instances, we’ve been able to achieve our goal of acquiring relevant sales leads in a much shorter time period.

While this strategy worked well for this particular client, there’s no guarantee that it will work for all others. Keep this option in your back pocket if you have underperforming campaigns — or have a few that might be good candidates based on the trends you’re seeing. Just remember, expect to see a tradeoff in CTR and engagement with this approach, but it’s well worth the try if there’s a chance it will pay off in conversions.

Even if this exact approach isn’t one that would work for you, hopefully, it gets you thinking about ways you might find success if you’re willing to test a few theories that defy conventional wisdom.

How to Measure Social Media Effectiveness

How to Measure Social Media Effectiveness

Ah, the eternal question: Is your social media marketing effective?

We’ve come a long way with social media measurement in recent years, but we’ve still got a long way to go. Even in 2018, only 23.3% of CMOs say they can show the impact of social media on their business:

measure social media impact

So why is this so hard? If we can send a man to the moon, why can’t we quantify Facebook activity?

Well, therein lies part of the problem. Measuring social media is dicey for a number of reasons, but one of the biggest is because every social media platform measures activity differently.

Also, because different social media platforms have completely different functionality, there’s no way to bend the definition of most metrics so that all the platform metrics can “talk” to each other.

I’d say it’s an apples-to-oranges comparison, but actually, if you look at all the social media metrics available across even the most popular social media platforms, it’s more like an apples-to-oranges-to-clementines-to-bananas-to-kumquats to…

Oh, you get the idea. It’s a headache.

That said, despite all the challenges of measuring social media effectiveness, some companies have solved the mystery. You can see this plainly in the first chart. 23.3% of CMOs do know the impact of their social media work. It can be done.

Now, we hope you’re on the team of one of those CMOs. But if you’re not, maybe you can get there.

The exact way to do this will be different for every company. And that’s as it should be: You’ve got different business goals, different tactics, different assets, a different business model. Using the exact same methodology to measure social activity as everybody else would be ridiculous. It wouldn’t work.

But you can take the principles of social media measurement, and get a reliable read on what’s working and what’s not.

Here’s how:

1. Define what “effective” means.

What does your company want from its social media marketing? More revenue? More brand awareness? More social media leads?

A bit of all three?

Ideally, you’ll pick just one primary goal for your work, but “ideally” is the operative word there. Often, there’s a squabble between different people on your team about what “effective” means.

Work this out as best you can. Get a meaningful, working definition of what “effective” means. You can change that definition next year if your business goals change.

But obviously, until you get clear on what “effective” means – in a quantifiable way – it’s going to be basically impossible to measure it.

Want to know what your fellow marketers are doing social media for? The DMA asked them about that last year:

primary social media goal

2. Assign some metrics to track your vision of effectiveness.

Does “effective advertising” mean more revenue for your company? Great. The classic ROI formula will work for you.

Here it is:

ROI formula

Did you want to measure brand awareness instead? Ah… that’s a squishier problem.

Brand awareness is not impossible to measure, of course. But it’s not as cleanly quantifiable as revenue. However, there are companies that can measure how aware your target audience is of your brand or products/services now. And then your team can decide where you want your goal brand awareness number to be. You’ve got your starting measurement, and your goal measurement.

At that point, some companies just step back from measuring every little step along the way. They’ll say, “Great – get us to brand awareness measurement 6.3 and we’ll call this effective.”

That’s fine in the boardroom, but it breaks in the cubicle. You – the social media manager, the marketing manager, even as CMO – are going to need to measure every campaign by how much it moves the needle toward the brand awareness measurement that you want.

You need an attribution model.

3. Pick the best possible attribution model for your needs.

An attribution model is basically the formula you’ll use to tie marketing messages and customer actions directly to quantifiable results.

In other words, an attribution model takes into account a variety of different “touches” your prospect will go through before they become a customer. It weights each touch and then assigns each touch a quantified value (in dollars) for the sale.

Attribution models range from the simple to the far more complicated. For example, “last touch” is a simple attribution model. That’s where you attribute revenue to whichever marketing message happened right before the sale went through. The “last touch” before the sale happened, literally.

So if the sale is worth $30, and the last touch is a click from an email that drove the customer to your site, the email message gets full credit for the $30 sale.

Unfortunately, while last touch and other simple attribution models make for easier analytics and report generation, everybody knows they don’t tell the whole story of what’s happening.

Here’s why: We know that it takes the average B2C consumer 9.5 visits to a website before they decide to buy. So while using a last touch model is convenient, it completely ignores any contribution from those other 8.5 visits (much less what drove those website visits).

If you’re in B2B, the sales funnel gets even more complicated. It’s not uncommon for B2B marketers to have a sales cycle of six months or more. And remember – every sales process (aka “customer journey”) is different. We consumers don’t move through sales cycles all in the same way.

So suffice it to say, there’s just a lot to track. Which is why we have attribution models. Think of them a bit like simple customer journey tracking algorithms.

This complexity gets particularly funky for social media. Even if you just optimize all your social media marketing for clicks, and add a set value to each click (either based on what you pay for social clicks, search clicks, or organic clicks), you could still miss out on quantifying some the benefits your social media marketing delivers. Especially if your goal is, say, brand awareness.

All this complexity is at the core of why marketers struggle to know if their social media is effective. Many of them know, intuitively, that it is – but they can’t prove it on paper.

Which is, again, why we use attribution models. They certainly aren’t perfect, but they’re much better than just throwing your hands up. A well-implemented attribution model can give social media the credit it is due, while still weighing all the other steps your prospect goes through along the way.

Again, it is definitely not perfect, but it can be good enough to make decisions from.

The question, of course, is which attribution model to use. That’s really for you and your CMO, your CFO and your team to figure out. But for reference, here are the most commonly-used attribution models for B2B marketers.

b2b attribution model

Also consider this breakout of attribution models. It’s for B2B and B2C:

attribution models for b2b and b2c. Emarketer

Source: eMarketer

After you’ve got an attribution model, all that’s left is to plug in your data (we recommend using our new Calculated Metrics Builder to make this easier).

You’ll get back a measurement of how effective each of your marketing campaigns are.

Now, is it gospel? Hardly. It’s an educated guess.

In Zen-speak, you attribution model is the finger pointing to the moon – not the moon itself. But it’s as accurate an analysis as possible. And you can confidently run a business, manage your social media campaigns, and invest in resources accordingly.

Word to the wise: Every CMO I’ve ever come across will ask you to run more than one attribution model. So even when we have our snapshot view of “this is our best, data-driven view of what’s going on,” they’ll want another view of it.

And this makes sense. It’s smart to take attribution models with a grain of salt. But they’re good at dispelling cognitive biases we may have (I know Snapchat works… we just can’t prove it yet.”). But they’re still a model. Sometimes data models fail.

But they’re good enough to trust and take actions from. And that is the ultimate goal of all this data we have – to show us which actions to take.

4. Figure out what it cost to achieve your results.

This is in some way the easiest part of measuring social media effectiveness. You do it because to get a true return on your investment, you’re going to need to know what your investment was.

Here are a few of the items to include in that calculation:

·      Staff salaries

If you have people dedicated to social media, this is easy. But you probably have a couple of people who contribute to your social media work part time. Ask them roughly what percentage of their time goes into social media, then allocate that portion (including benefits and all other employee costs) to the staff section of your social media costs.

·      Outsourced support.

Got any freelancers who contribute to social media? Add up their costs here.

·      Tools, software, services, etc.

Use a social media scheduling tool? Add its cost here.

·      Advertising and promotion costs.

·      Content creation costs.

This is trickier than it sounds. For example: You publish a blog post. It costs $900 all in. You publish it on your blog but it also goes into your email newsletter, and you share it several times on social media.

Is it fair for your blog to bear the overhead burden for the whole blog post, when your newsletter and your social media marketing get benefits from that post, too? Most marketers would say no. So they might attribute 10% of the cost of the blog post to both the newsletter and social media each. The blog itself would only “pay” for 80% of the overhead for that post.


Let’s bring all this complexity into perspective.

At it’s simplest, achieving social media effectiveness just means you’ve achieved the goal you set for yourself on social media.

If your goal is clear, it’s not hard to tell if you’ve done that.

Of course, as business people, we want to quantify our marketing goal and its achievement better than “I achieved my goal – good for me!” So we’ll specify what our goals are. We’ll set measurable goals and give ourselves a deadline to achieve those goals.

Again, it’s not so hard to tell if you’ve achieved a goal or not. No rocket science required here.

But because we’re wonky businesspeople, we’ll also want to know if we achieved our goal in an affordable way.

So when we set out to achieve our goal, we allocate a bunch of resources into achieving it. And we keep track of how much those resources cost, so we’ll know how much it took to achieve our goal.

If the results of our goal are worth more to us than what value of the resources we put in, we’ve got a positive return. Our social media marketing was effective.

Now, that’s certainly not the classical definition of ROI, but this simplification can help. It’s a plain way to think about the resources we put in, and the results we get out. Or, in other words, if we achieved our goals at a price we’re happy with.

Back to you

Where are you at with this whole issue of tracking social media effectiveness? Does your company use an attribution model, or can you say with confidence that you know your social media work is effective? Leave a comment and tell us what you think.


How to Create LinkedIn Remarketing Audiences from User Interactions

Posted by in LinkedIn, Social
How to Create LinkedIn Remarketing Audiences from User Interactions

We love LinkedIn ads for B2B marketing. It may be the only social media platform where you can always be sure to find highly-engaged professionals who are actually actively thinking about work.

Let’s be honest – on other social media platforms, they’re likely not thinking about work-related software in between liking photos of their friends’ dogs’ birthday parties. So even if your targeting is great, your performance may be mediocre. Context is a huge part of conversion.

The classic B2B funnel requires putting the right content in front of the right audience, at the right time. If your audience is not currently consuming work-related content, your ads’ performance may suffer, regardless of how awesome your targeting is.

This is why LinkedIn ads are perfect for sophisticated B2B remarketing. It allows us to combine the high-value context with super-relevant targeting to create what some might call magic.

An example of this would be promoting a case study in the banking industry to someone who visited the “Industries > Banking” section of your site.

As a co-founder of Fixel, an AI-based audience segmentation tool, I wanted to make this “magic” possible for all LinkedIn advertisers. We already had our tool integrated with  Facebook, AdWords, and Twitter, so LinkedIn was a logical next step. Fixel’s sophisticated AI model analyzes over 60 parameters of user characteristics (such traffic source or device type) and site engagement (such as videos views and button clicks), through which it can narrow down on your top performing visitors.

But when we started integrating Fixel into LinkedIn Ads, we hit a snag – LinkedIn only allows for URL-based Matched Audience creation, and nearly all sophisticated remarketing relies on events rather than pageviews (we’ll go into this in a moment – see below).

linkedin audiences

LinkedIn Events vs. Pageviews

To understand LinkedIn remarketing, let’s take a step back for a minute and describe the difference between pageviews and events.

Pageviews are easy – say you want to target all users that visited your pricing page? Boom, set up an audience for yoursite.com/pricing. You want to target all users that visited your blog? Kablammo, set up an audience for yoursite.com/blog.

This is a simple way to tell your users apart. In this example, we know that users that have only visited your blog are usually at an earlier buying stage than users visiting your pricing page.

But pageviews only tell a small part of the story. User engagement spans interactions that are far more significant than simple pageviews.

For example, what if you want to set up an audience based on users that spent more than 30 seconds on a given page, and also partially filled out a form (but didn’t complete it), and also visited more than 3 pages, etc.?

That’s where you use Events. Anything your diabolical marketing brain can think of, you can create a sophisticated audience for.


Too bad, LinkedIn doesn’t have this functionality built into its remarketing setup.

But wait, LinkedIn does have conversion events!

LinkedIn indeed supports event-based tracking for conversion purposes – for example, if someone fills out a form that doesn’t point to a “thank-you” page. But these can only be used for conversion tracking.

So, back to the matter at hand. No events in LinkedIn Matched Audiences makes Jack a dull boy, and makes your remarketing flexibility pretty limited. It also meant that our solution, Fixel, wouldn’t work in LinkedIn, which is completely unacceptable.

Well, if LinkedIn needed pageviews, then we’ll give them pageviews!

Hacking the stack

It took a few tries, but we’ve succeeded in hacking the pageview recording for the LinkedIn pixel. Now, you can fire scripts in the Google Tag Manager that emulate pageviews to the LinkedIn tag. Booya!

We decided that this solution is too awesome to keep to ourselves, so we’re making it available to the public at large.

We’ve created an event javascript generator that enables advertisers to capture custom events as a seed for their remarketing audiences in LinkedIn.

What does that mean for you? Well in just two simple steps you can create LinkedIn Matched Audiences based on users that watched the explainer video on your website and then searched for “llama farms” in your search bar.

fixel remarketing audiences

Setting up the LinkedIn events

Creating these audiences in LinkedIn is a breeze. Create a free account at https://my.fixel.ai and grab the code snippet from the Free Tools section. Then use Google Tag Manager (or ask your developers) to trigger this script on the user engagement you want to track.


Make sure that you create a corresponding Matched Audience in your LinkedIn Ads account (learn how here) so that these interactions will populate your remarketing audiences.

So where should I start?

Glad you asked. A first step would be understanding which behaviors on your site you would like to capture.

In the classic B2B scenario, in which most LinkedIn marketers operate, we’d suggest looking at interactions with ungated content you have on your site.

For example, take users who viewed over 50% of your testimonial video for the telecommunications industry. Creating a targeted audience of these users will allow you to serve them a targeted follow-up ad with the right messaging.

Another example would be targeting users who read a top-of-funnel ungated PDF, such as  a how-to (even something like this article, for example). These can now be served with mid-funnel content to push them to conversion.

Of course, you can also create more complex rules that combine multiple behaviors or data points, such as a user coming from organic search that scrolled to 90% on an industry-specific blog post. These can then be served with a follow-up message tailored to their industry.

Applying the tag to these users will allow you to add them to a Matched Audience in LinkedIn. They can then be used as a pinpoint target for your remarketing efforts.

Got a suggestion for additional ways to use the tag? Post it in the comments.

Important note:

This is a free standalone tool that isn’t part of the core Fixel solution and will not collect any information from your site.

The Performance Marketer’s Guide To Facebook’s Campaign Budget Optimization

Posted by in Facebook, Social
The Performance Marketer’s Guide To Facebook’s Campaign Budget Optimization

Part 1 – Facebook Campaign Budget Optimization (CBO) Basics

Part 2 – Choosing An Effective Account Structure for Campaign Budget Optimization

 – Example Account Structure

Part 3 – Strategies To Improve ROI With Campaign Budget Optimization

Closing Thoughts

I joined JD a few months ago on the PPC Show podcast to talk about my experience using Facebook’s campaign budget optimization feature which was (at the time) just starting to be released to advertisers. After spending over $400,000 on campaigns with Facebook’s campaign budget optimization enabled in the last few months, I believe it is one of the ad platform’s most impactful changes ever, allowing advertisers to truly scale their campaigns with ease.

While Facebook still has this release in beta (as of the publish date of this article), it has proven to work very well across a wide range of audiences and industries. This guide will cover insights gained while working with this functionality on large-scale campaigns using the lead generation and conversion campaign objectives.

Part 1. Facebook Campaign Budget Optimization (CBO) Basics

Facebook’s launch of the campaign budget optimization provides direct response marketers an automated way to leverage Facebook’s predictive bidding to scale their conversion volume across multiple ad sets. Balancing budgets to maximize ROI is one of the most important tasks a paid media manager can focus on — and with Facebook now handling this aspect of campaigns, it frees advertisers to focus on more strategic campaign components like ad content, targeting and landing pages.

What does Facebook Campaign Budget Optimization do?

This new functionality allows you to set a daily or lifetime budget at the campaign level and give Facebook the control to move budget between your contained ad sets to find the best performance based on your goals. At a basic level, Facebook automatically prioritizes what it believes will be your top performing audiences and then moves on to other audiences once the current one is “exhausted.”

How do I activate Campaign Budget Optimization?

Using campaign budget optimization is easy and can be activated on the campaign settings for any new campaign. It can not be applied to existing campaigns that were running before this option was enabled for the account. Simply click on the toggle option to optimize budget across ad sets when initially setting up your campaign and create your ad sets as you normally would.

facebook campaign optimizationWho should use Campaign Budget Optimization?

The core functionality of campaign budget optimization is built for advertisers who are looking to scale their program performance. Advertisers with hypotheses about specific audiences can now use Facebook’s predictive bidding to see which will result in more conversions. With this in mind, it is perfect for advertisers who are looking to test and find new ways to expand their campaign reach while also maintaining performance.

Are there limitations for advertisers?

Because Facebook will be automating some aspects of your campaign, there will be some platform limitations in place (at least for the beta) that you should be aware of. You are unable to daypart, use accelerated delivery or make changes to bid strategy once a campaign is published.

Additionally, you cannot use import and export functionality with Power Editor to build campaigns from a template. While these aren’t deal breakers by any means, these limitations may hinder the use of other more advanced strategies.

When should I not use CBO?

There are a few situations when using campaign budget optimization is not recommended, primarily for short-term campaigns of less than a week or campaigns with only one target audience. Because Facebook’s bidding engine needs time to “ramp up” and collect data while using CBO to really be effective (just like standard campaigns), it’s best to make sure there is ample time to build a conversion history that can ultimately improve campaign performance.

Further, if you have audiences and campaigns that have historically performed very well for you, keeping those in a standard campaign can be a very smart move, as you will have the ability to optimize those audiences independently of separate CBO-enabled campaigns.

Part 2. Choosing An Effective Account Structure for Campaign Budget Optimization

One of the most important things to understand when working with this functionality is that it will change how you structure your entire account. With budgets being managed only at the campaign level with contained audiences now going “head-to-head,” there are a number of considerations in how and when to use CBO most effectively.

Focus on conversion-based campaign types

After running across multiple Facebook Ads Objectives, it is clear that campaign budget optimization was made for performance marketers. While I have not tested CBO extensively with engagement-based campaigns, I can say that when testing with Reach and Awareness objective campaigns, the budget was not always allocated toward the top performer of the campaigns’ primary metric (CPM and Reach CPM).

Avoid placing “significantly different” audiences in the same campaign

You likely already have different types of audiences and offers that are converting well across your account in multiple areas of the funnel. In a standard campaign, grouping these together in different ad sets is not a problem because each ad set functions independently of the others. But with CBO, this is not the case.

When using campaign budget optimization you should avoid putting disparate audience types such as lookalikes, retargeting and interest-based segments into a single campaign. When this happens, budgets will very quickly skew toward what Facebook’s bidding algorithm assumes will be the highest performing audience. This essentially defeats the purpose of using campaign budget optimization because a single audience type will more often outperform the others. As the optimization engine looks to test the other audiences, it doesn’t see better performance and stays “locked in” to your top performer because it is still most likely to drive the lowest CPA.

Group custom audiences of similar types together

Instead, when building campaigns with CBO enabled, make sure your audiences are similar and group multiple custom audiences of the same type such as engagement, CRM-based audiences, and retargeting in the same campaign. With the likelihood that these audiences will perform similarly high, you can be confident that Facebook’s bidding engine will perform the way it was intended to, allocating budgets appropriately.

Group audiences of similar sizes together

During testing, I found that my optimal campaign was around 6 ad sets, each with “somewhat similar” audience sizes of approximately under 500k, 500k to 1 million or 1M+, respectively.

The reason for using a similar audience size across your ad sets? Smaller audiences will more quickly exhaust their lower cost conversions, moving on to the larger audiences within just a few days or a week. Grouping similar audience sizes will result in smoother delivery and less campaign “turbulence” when increasing budgets or running a campaign over longer periods of time.

Leverage single audience ad sets (SAAS) to isolate your top performers and scale

Using campaign budget optimization as a testing ground for new audiences can be a great strategy. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by testing each audience segment individually in its own ad set, also known as “single audience ad sets,” or SAAS.

Similar to the paid search strategy of using single keyword ad groups, both the SAAS and SKAG campaign structures allow you to isolate the targeting variable that is responsible for your conversions and build your ideal targeting, personalized ad content, and landing page combination to drive results.

An ideal process for scaling your conversions with CBO and SAAS involves 2 steps:

  • Step 1 – Use campaign budget optimization to test new audiences of any type (interest, lookalike, custom) and see which perform well.
  • Step 2 – Once you find a high-performing audience segment, pause it in the CBO campaign and then place it into its own standard campaign with a unique ad set. This allows you to identify audiences that will perform well in their own campaign, in which you can then test different aspects of your funnel (ads, landing pages, bid strategies) more effectively than as part of a CBO-enabled campaign.

Use a dedicated lookalike campaign to find incremental conversions

Many Facebook Ads practitioners leverage lookalike audiences to scale their campaigns and overall conversion volume. I found that lookalike audiences perform exceptionally well when grouped with other percentage-based audiences of the same seed audience in a CBO-enabled campaign.

By creating numerous lookalikes from the same audience segment at different percentages (1%, 1-2%, 2-3%, etc.) and excluding them from each other to avoid audience overlap, you can easily create a lookalike campaign with an audience size of 10 million. In numerous tests, this type of campaign structure started to grow quickly in conversion volume after the learning period was completed as the algorithm had the flexibility to move between much larger groups of people with ease.

Example Account Structure

Campaign 1 (Standard)  – Top Performers

  • Retargeting Audience 1
  • Retargeting Audience 2
  • Top Performing Interest 1
  • Top Performing Interest 2
  • CRM Segment
  • Engagement Segment

Campaign 2 (CBO) – Lookalike Segment

  • Lookalike Segment A – 1%
  • Lookalike Segment A – 1-2%
  • Lookalike Segment A – 2-3%
  • Lookalike Segment A – 3-4%
  • Lookalike Segment A – 4-5%

Campaign 3 (CBO) – Interest

  • Interest Audience A
  • Interest Audience B
  • Interest Audience C
  • Interest Audience D

Part 3. Strategies To Improve ROI With Campaign Budget Optimization

Most best practices for Facebook Ads still apply when using CBO, but marketers should pay careful attention to the way in which CBO works in relation to other ad sets in the campaign. With Facebook now reallocating your budget to maximize ROI, you can focus on other improvements that can drive your performance even higher.

Push the Facebook Pixel more data by tagging “soft” conversion events

Tagging both standard and custom events is a must for every Facebook Ads account. For CBO-enabled campaigns, this is even more critical. I found that CBO worked well when using a single standard conversion event such as lead or registration, but it was even more effective when other soft conversions events such as button clicks or page scroll depth were tracked but not optimized to.

If you are looking to take your campaign to the next level, give the pixel more data by including additional custom events. These will help improve decision-making for the overall optimization engine, which more accurately informs where Facebook will reallocate your budget to get you the best results.

Understand that your learning period still exists across all ad sets in your campaign

No matter what, Facebook needs time to understand your audience, your conversion goals, and the attributes of your pixel’s converting users to really tune its optimization engine. Facebook states that “your ad set needs about 50 conversions per week for our delivery system to learn who it’s best to show your ads to” and this still applies to campaigns that are using campaign budget optimization.

If your campaign has only 1 or 2 unique ad sets that are driving results, it can be hard for other audiences to start converting. In some cases, this may not be ideal — so if you value results more from some ad sets (read: audiences) over another, Facebook suggests that you control this “through appropriate bid caps or cost targets” instead of using ad set spend limits, which may affect the automatic bidding strategy. The image below from the Facebook UI shows exactly show to control this.

Facebook UI - Budget Optimization

Build your budget toward a goal of 50 conversions per week per ad set

There’s no doubt that the use of CBO is effective when used correctly. One easy way to get off track is by having a limited budget or too many ad sets. Campaign budgets should be large enough to equally distribute across your campaign ad sets with a daily budget that is capable of driving the minimum recommended conversions (50 or more) per week as discussed above.

Facebook’s own site states:

“campaign budget optimization works best when all ad sets in a campaign could spend a full budget, but we get to pick only the best results from each one.”

Placing too little daily budget on the campaign will leave your campaigns restricted and less likely to unlock the full potential of the budget optimization settings.

Regularly flight new ad creative across all ad sets in your campaigns

With a new feature like campaign budget optimization active, your strategy is likely more focused on how to use it most effectively. I found one of the best ways to maintain performance across a CBO-enabled campaign was still to flight new ads regularly. AdStage excels at automated ad flighting, and using it with campaign budget optimization is a great way to make your campaigns continue to drive results.

Closing Thoughts

Using Facebook’s campaign budget optimization feature over the past few months has helped me to reevaluate my process for testing new audiences, budget for top performing segments, and scale overall conversion volume quickly and effectively.

Not only did CBO perform better across dozens of campaigns, but I spent less time allocating budget to top-performing audiences, which allowed me to focus on ad copy, audiences and landing page content—all of which had a positive effect on campaign performance.

What Facebook has done with this campaign budget optimization is truly impressive and it is apparent that the product team will continue to build core features for the benefit of its direct response advertisers. As with any new platform functionality, your campaigns will be subject to trial and error but hopefully, the learnings outlined above can help you take steps toward better ROI and improved campaign performance.

Should You Pay For Social Media?

Posted by in Social
Should You Pay For Social Media?

“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.

facebook publisher referral traffic

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.

FacebookGoogleReferral Traffic

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.

Facebook CPM Increase

Facebook’s advertising costs are skyrocketing, as ad inventories dwindle. That could drive advertisers to other platforms and increase advertising costs.

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.

Messenger Examples

Hundreds of thousands of companies, bots and people are on Messenger. If you’re not there yet, it’s time to start experimenting.

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:

chewy social media examples

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.

twitter customer service example

Most consumers expect a quick reply to customer service issues on Twitter.

·          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.

Instagram ads examples

You may not get a lot of engagement for these types of shares, but it only takes a handful of prospective employees to see them to make these posts worthwhile. Source: Instagram

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.


DKNG Studios has plenty of content for their email newsletters thanks to their social media posts. Source: ReallyGoodEmails


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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Top 2018 Facebook Ads Predictions from the Experts

Posted by in PPC News, Social
Top 2018 Facebook Ads Predictions from the Experts

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.

Instagram Ad Types

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.

match transactions to campaigns to determine attribution

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

  1. Facebook’s Diminishing Ad Load
  2. Experimenting with Messenger Ads
  3. Getting Creative with Ad Creative & Ad Types
  4. 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.”

Susan Wenograd Facebook Quote

“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.”

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.”

Akvile DeFazio Messenger Quote

“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.”

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.”

Matt Mason Facebook Quote

“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.”

Michelle Morgan Facebook Quote

“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.”


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.

How to Fix a Failing Facebook Campaign

Posted by in Social
How to Fix a Failing Facebook Campaign

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.

but why

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.

dr who got to end

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 Advertising Costs [CPC, CPM, & CTR Benchmarks]

Instagram Advertising Costs [CPC, CPM, & CTR Benchmarks]

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.

Instagram Ad Types

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 Q1 2018 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 Supply and Demand 2017

Instagram Ad CPCs Decrease 35%

Based on our data, we saw CPCs increase by 35% over the first nine months of 2017.

Instagram CPCs in 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 Q1 2018 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 report.

Q1 2018 Paid Media Benchmark Report


7 Major Updates for Facebook Advertisers

7 Major Updates for Facebook Advertisers

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.
facebook ads manager updates

The Power Editor Interface.


facebook power editor guided creation 2

Guided Creation in the new Facebook Ads Manager. Source: Jon Loomer

  • 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).

Instagram ads

Facebook Lifestyle Templates replicate the print catalog experience for mobile. Source: Facebook

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.
Instagram Ads

With 250m DAU, Instagram Stories are catnip to advertisers. Source: Instagram

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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