A prime number of things I've learned about Facebook Ads

Everybody loves advertising, so I figured I'd share some tips about advertising on Facebook that have accumulated on my plate after a few different jobs and consulting projects using them.

o. You can get started with Facebook ads on the cheap. Anybody can run ads on Facebook on a CPC or CPM basis (and I'll wager that they'll roll out CPA after a while) with a few dollars and half a clue.  Results improve with additional dollars and clue.

1. Facebook ads are not behavioral, and they're not search ads either. In the main, you can target Facebook ads at facebookers based on what's in their profiles - location, age, relationship status, gender, employment, stuff they like, etc. This info is self-reported and subject to the categories that Facebook has created. This is not the same as search ads that target people based on what they just an instant ago typed into a search engine.  Adjust your expectations accordingly.

2. There's some serious freshness bias. I'm willing to bet that the first (full) day you run an ad, you'll get more impressions and more clicks than any other day after that.   I don't know for sure why that is (or even if it's universally so) but I suspect that the ad serving system is biased towards newer ads.  It's also possible that the Facebook community gets immune to your ad very quickly.  In any case, I find that making small modifications to you ads on a weekly or even daily basis can help mitigate this effect.

3. It's got nothing to do with advertising, but you can use the Facebook ads interface - for free - to do some quick and dirty market sizing. Just go in as if you were creating an ad, and play with the targeting options to get exciting factoids like the number of people on Facebook who are single, in your geographic area, and like dogs.  You can get all that info without even writing any creative or paying for any ads.  But be careful about generalizing this info as Facebook adoption isn't uniform around the world or across demographics.

4. Help is available - for a price. Facebook has some ad service people who will talk to you if you're buying at least $15k/month in ads. Furthermore, they will under some circumstances provide you with a "business account" - a separate login to the ad system that's not linked to anybody's individual profile, a definite plus for businesses.  On top of that, sometimes they can be convinced to provide a bulk ad upload capability.  This would seem to be in their interest as it lets customers run lots and lots of ads.  Note that in order to run ads promoting your fan page, you'll have to make the business account a page admin, which you can do only by email address, since the business account doesn't really have a profile.

So do I recommend Facebook ads? I'm not going near that question, I'm just sharing some things I've discovered.  Do your homework, test a little, double down if it's working for you.  Advertising is key to Facebook's world-domination revenue goals, and in the short time that I've been working with Facebook ads, I've seen them invest a lot in the capability.  While they still have some distance to go, they provide some opportunities that you can't get with seemingly similar search ads on the more mature Google and Yahoo ad networks.  And, I might add, Facebook's ad system is parsecs ahead of LinkedIn's.

Your mileage will vary, but I hope you'll share what you find too.

2 Responses

  1. Good post David - been definitely noticing the freshness bias as well. From a business point of view for Facebook it makes complete sense though. They need to incentivize people to keep their ads fresh in order to get a higher CTR, so what better way than rewarding advertisers with a huge impression spike when they change up their ads. I've noticed that by simply rotating the image and changing a word or two every few days it has resulted in about a 40% increase in CTR, which for Facebook means millions more in revenue each month. The best way to improve results on Adwords and Facebook Ads is to think like Google and Facebook. What ever makes sense for them to make more money, you should probably be doing.
  2. Any general sense if the leads or click you get from Facebook are better or worse than other sources? In theory they should be way more targeted. I am just not sure about the specificity and engagement even if the CPL works out.

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