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5 Advanced Tips from a Facebook Advertising Playbook

by Frank Strong
facebook advertisingSince I’ve recently ranted against Facebook’s push for advertising, I thought I’d turn it around and take a fair look at effective advertising strategies. I downloaded white paper pitched by Marin Software titled The Definitive Facebook Advertising Playbook and found it to contain pragmatic advice for Facebook advertisers.

The paper outlines what the software vendor sees as four key advertising trends:

  1. Facebook’s news stream functions like native advertising
  2. User are increasingly accessing Facebook on mobile devices
  3. Social commerceengaged Facebook fans are more likely to purchase
  4. Rotating the creative aspects of an ad avoids user fatigue

Facebook news stream as native advertising

The notion of the news stream as a native ad hadn’t occurred to me previously, but it seems obvious in hind sight. A native ad attempts to look like natural or organic content, which generally attracts more engagement than a traditional advertising spot.

Native ads, while effective, are controversial because on major media outlets, it approaches deception – deceiving readers into thinking the content was vetted by a third-party.  Google may be casting a wary eye on native advertising.

Advocates argue, amid shrinking publisher revenues, news sites have few alternatives – native ads are the price of business.  Within Facebook, ads or promoted posts that appear in a user’s news stream attempt to look like natural posts the user would typically see – you know, right alongside the photos of your last vacation or a video of your child first steps.

Broadly speaking advertisers have two choices in Facebook ads: a spot on the right column or appearance in the news stream.  In my own experiences with Facebook ads, Facebook places newly created ads in both spots by default. Typically the news stream costs more, but vastly outperforms ads in the right hand column.

Competing to advertise

Advertising on Facebook is getting competitive, which some might argue will raise the quality, or perhaps entertainment value, of the ads users might see. The concept seems aking to the competition for Google’s pay-per-click advertising.  According to Marin:

As Facebook advertising has become increasingly competitive, the company has become strict on showing ads with the highest CTR.

Five tips for effective Facebook advertising

Marin uses some of its own data combined with industry research to make the case for several Facebook advertising approaches. Here are five I found to be noteworthy:

1. Mobile only ads.  According to Marin, 74% of Facebook users access Facebook through a mobile device.  Facebook has offered the opportunity to create mobile only advertisements for some time through the use of its Power Editor feature.  Marin suggests managing mobile ads separately:

One key strategy advertisers already utilize to optimize their mobile ad spend on Facebook is to split targeting into separate desktop and mobile campaigns, instead of creating one campaign for both devices.

2. Mobile Apps Ads.  If your brand has a mobile app available, Facebook offers the ability to create ads specifically for those apps – and to track downloads. This strikes me as a very effective way to use Facebook ads for creating our own community. With every download, you have the ability to reach those users organically.  A new start-up trying to drive engaged users for a product could find a lot of potential in this sort of promotion

3. Retargeting with custom audiences.  Retargeting has reached a crescendo in marketing circles – it’s the type of ad that follows you around the web.  For example, if you find yourself perusing a website for a new pair of shoes, whether you purchased a pair or not, it’s likely you’ll see ads for those shoes all around the edges of the web as you continue to browse elsewhere. Facebook offers a powerful way to retarget customers through Custom Audiences:

Custom Audience targeting provides marketers with a simple solution for reaching highly specific audience segments using a combination of Facebook-provided interest data and first-party customer or prospect data owned by the advertiser. For example, Custom Audience targeting would allow an outdoor retailer to target “a potential customer who visited our site to browse kayaks, is located in Seattle, and is interested in open-sea kayaking.”

Another way to retarget is to “create an audience” with the Power Editor.  You’ll have to download a Chrome plug-in for this to work, but what it will allow you to do is to upload a list of customer email addresses in an Excel spreadsheet or from some common email marketing platforms, and target those customers on Facebook (assuming they have accounts). This is one technique for working around the clutter found in email inboxes.

Retargeting customers through Custom Audiences has already proven to be the most cost effective targeting option…

4. Experiment with published and unpublished page posts. When creating a Facebook ad, the advertiser may choose to promote a post already published on Facebook, or they may create a new never before published post.

…advertisers should promote organic Page posts that have garnered high levels of engagement and virality amongst Facebook users, which will immediately add “social context” to the target audience. Unpublished Page posts, which do not require a prerequisite post to your fan base, should be targeted at your audiences with the highest ROI and contain deep links to optimized landing pages.

5. Rotate the creative design of ads.  Switching up the creative aspects of an advertisement is perhaps rooted in the long history of advertising.  It’s simply smart to take this time-proven approach and apply it to social media advertising.  As the white paper says:

Marin found the number of Facebook advertisers using creative rotation strategies increased by 21% in Q3 2013 compared to Q2 2013, and for good reason. Advertisers who use creative rotation to eliminate ad fatigue tend to have significantly better performance than those who don’t.

* * *

Previously, I have never heard of Marin Software and cannot vouch for the product. However, I did find the white paper worth reading. Speaking of Facebook, follow this blog on Facebook here.  What tips would you offer?

Photo credit:  Flickr via Creative Commons

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