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As the world's largest social media platform, with the most active users, it’s crucial to leverage the marketing potential of Facebook correctly, by understanding the types of ads you can run there and the different options to choose from.
Not all ads are created equal. The best option for your business will depend on your desired result. If you are already leveraging the inbound marketing funnel or the buyer's journey, Facebook's ad options need little explanation. They’re separated by the stages of the buyer’s journey: awareness, consideration and conversion.
Explore how each option can help your business to discover which has the best ROI potential for you.
Within the Awareness ad category, brand awareness tries to show your ad to the most amount of people who they believe will pay attention to your ads. Reach tries to get the most amount of impressions as possible. If you want to increase awareness, I recommend A/B testing these two options to see which helps you reach your goals, which are likely a mixture of impressions, shares, likes and comments. If clicks to your FB page or website are your goal, you should instead be focused on the “Consideration” stage ads.
All these options are billed on per-impression basis, meaning the cost is based on amount of views. For more information about the price breakdown, check out facebook's definition here.
There are no set rules for how much of the ad needs to be on screen, or how long it needs to be on screen for a view to count. In Facebook's own words “In a few cases when it can't be determined whether ads are on screen, such as on mobile phones, impressions are counted when ads are delivered to devices.” This means a person might not even see the ad, but you‘ll still be charged because Facebook still delivered it. Additionally, impressions work for pictures and videos equally, by not actually requiring the video to begin playing for an impression to count, meaning you can be charged for a video impression for a video that never played or even appeared on the screen.
I don't use any impression-based payment plans for any ads on Facebook for just this reason, as my goals are ROI driven. Your mileage may vary depending on budget and goals.
If your goal is simply brand awareness with no emphasis on ROI or conversions, awareness ads will do just fine. But don't spend all of your budget on Facebook alone, think about where your buyer personas spend time and what they are interested in. A/B test with Google display network. From my previous experience, Facebook is a little cheaper, but the rules around charging for impressions in which people may never see the ads is very shady.
The consideration ads option concentrates a little more on action and engagement. It also offers my favorite delivery method of CPC and Link Clicks. For more information on these terms check out the glossary.
Under the consideration category, different options include:
- Traffic: Attempts to send people to a destination on or off Facebook such as a website, or message conversation.
- Engagement: Encourages actions including, comments, shares, likes, event responses, and offer claims.
- App Installs: This sends people to the App Store where they can download your app.
- Video Views: Promotes videos to raise awareness.
- Lead Generation: Collects lead information from people interested in your business.
- Messages: Increases conversations with your business to complete purchases and answer questions or offer support.
Best Options For ROI
The most important option while using this AD set is under the setting “Optimization for Ad Delivery”, located at the bottom of the tab “Ad Set” under the subtab “budget & schedule”. This hidden little option controls the way in which your ads are delivered. From my testing, the Link Clicks option has resulted in the best ROI, as this is the only way to ensure advertising dollars results in action from the customer, and therefore we can calculate and predict outcomes.
Even if you change to landing page views (suggested by Facebook) the delivery type changes to impressions, so you aren't charged for people actually visiting your landing pages. Instead, you’re charged for simply for the ad’s delivery to them, with or without a real impression. While I am sure there are examples of successful campaigns using impressions, the vast majority of people who want predictable results should stick to link clicks using CPC. Additionally, for even better results, set a maximum bid and change delivery to accelerated. Based on my personal, testing this has resulted in the most impressions and clicks.
If you are running a consideration campaign, absolutely use link clicks whenever possible, and stay away from impression-based ad delivery. Add landing page views as a metric in your dashboard to see how many people actually visit your site from the ads and be sure test to other platforms for comparable ROI.
Finally, the last step in the buyer's journey, conversion. Why Facebook uses this type of funnel makes no sense as there is no actual funnel to set up, unlike HubSpot where you can target buyer personas with personalised emails, landing pages and offers based on their life stage cycles or previous behavior and interactions with your site and brand.
The options for conversion stage ads include:
- Conversions: Valuable actions on your website, app or in messenger, i.e. adding payment info or making a purchase, tracked by a facebook pixel or app events.
- Catalog Sales: Ads that show items from your catalog based on your target audience.
- Store Visits: Promote multiple business locations to people who are nearby.
Don't be fooled, you won't actually be charged per conversion. You’ll be charged per person seeing your ads, with an amount that’s based upon how likely Facebook thinks they are to convert. To use these types of campaigns you will need to install Facebook Pixels, or set up a business location, or online catalog in Facebook.
Based on my testing this is one of the most expensive types of campaigns to run and, from my experience, one of the worst. You have to solely rely on Facebook showing the right ad to the right person at just the right time. And instead of incentivizing collaboration by Facebook taking a cut of your sales, Facebook makes sure they get paid first, offering no assurances of success or profitability. I’m sure there are examples of this working, but having such little control over the final stage in the buyer's journey makes absolutely no sense.
The conversion options are little more than awareness ads using the same targeting and delivery and expecting a different result. As Albert Einstein said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
For the best results, use the traffic option when these ads setting up, select link clicks as the delivery method, and change to the CPC option for selecting when you get charged. All this offers a greater degree of certainly, more trackable results, and usually includes a generation of free impressions anyway (win - win).